Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Another year, another Call of Duty. Does Treyarch improve on the formula?

Each year we have become accustomed to seeing an array of familiar video game titles on store shelves during the Christmas season, and Call of Duty certainly reigns supreme in a market filled with cookie cutter copies on every shelf. So much so, that some have even deemed the Tuesday closest to Veteran’s Day “Call of Duty Day”. This year, it was Treyarch’s turn to develop Activision’s sequel to the 2010 blockbuster, Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Has this franchise been drawn out for too long? Can it live up to the hype and sales of its predecessors?

As a die-hard Call of Duty fan, it wasn’t surprising to find out at this year’s E3 that the Black Ops franchise was to be continued as this year’s Call of Duty. My expectations were much of what they normally are in a Call of Duty game developed by Treyarch: great multiplayer, superb graphics, customizable guns, a fairly interesting campaign and most importantly, zombies.

Read on to find out more on this year’s self proclaimed “Best Call of Duty Yet!”

Gameplay

The single-player campaign revolves around two connected storylines. The first is set around the original protagonist of Black Ops, Alex Mason (voiced once again by Sam Worthington) and is set during the 1970s and 1980s. The second story features the son of Alex Mason, David. Set in the future, 2025, during a Cold War between China and the United States. Both stories involve the game’s primary antagonist, Raul Menendez.

With that being said, from the get go you are immediately thrown into the action. As with many other FPS titles, you are given the opportunity to select from a variety of weapons prior to entering the action from a loadout screen (a feature which is new in Black Ops II). Aside from this option, much of the campaign will feel familiar (without giving any spoilers of course), with similar strategies and tasks involving interaction within the game’s environment.

Multiplayer

Many people feel that the multiplayer component is what truly drives the Call of Duty franchise to continue producing a game each year. With many players using the single -player campaign to re-familiarize themselves with the game play and controls, the real enjoyment in this game is had while playing the multiplayer component of the game.

On that note, it is very hard for a Call of Duty to be unsuccessful in this component of the game; however, there is seemingly something missing in this year’s multiplayer campaign. Much of the familiarity in the guns and perks were completely revamped; as such, there was certainly a learning curve to better understand the new options available. Although many familiar perks and weapons have returned in Black Ops II, some have been either removed, or changed from their predecessor.

The killstreak rewards have also seen some serious changes. Previously familiar rewards such as the RC-XD, and K-9s have been brought back for this installment of Call of Duty as well as many other new additions to suit the 21st century setting.

Zombies

Treyarch seemingly spent a great deal of time developing the content for this year’s Zombie component of the game. There is now a greater sense of connectivity between the different settings and scenes within a Zombie level in Black Ops II. So much so, that it is very reminiscent of a Left 4 Dead game.

Overall the zombie component this time around has taken a step in the right direction by creating a sense of purpose by including a storyline. In previous zombie campaigns, it was simply a matter of survival, with no real linear sense of story. These changes provide the player with a greater sense of purpose and add value to the game when considering the amount of customizations available which are completely separate of the multiplayer campaign.

Verdict

The name Call of Duty has brought many to expect a certain level of quality in the multiplayer aspect of any Call of Duty Game. This year, it feels as though this rendition of Call of Duty was unpolished, and perhaps stretched in too many directions. There are times when looking at the visuals (on Xbox 360) where I found myself asking if this was a “new” Call of Duty, as the graphics engine is now appearing to be more dated. The pace of the gameplay can be as fast and exciting as ever during multiplayer. The one true flaw which haunts this game is the aspect of time travel which takes place during the connected storyline. Where this game is redeemed is in its replay value for its multiplayer and zombie modes.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II is available now for PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U.


The Verdict

7Good

The Good:
• Addictive multiplayer
• Improved zombie campaign

The Bad:
• Dated graphics