Call of Duty: Black Ops II Review
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A new height for storytelling in Call of Duty games paired with a remodeled multiplayer component that is as addictive and rewarding as ever makes for really attractive package, despite its shortcomings.
- New height for storytelling in Call of Duty games
- Multiplayer has aged with us, remodeling an addictive competitive online component to prioritize customization
- There's quite a bit of game here, and something for everyone
- Strike Force missions bog down a surprisingly good Single-Player campaign
- PS3 version doesn't run as well as its Xbox 360 counterpart
- We miss Spec Ops
(continued from previous page) ...down your opposition, or the Guardian, a turret that spits out a wall of microwaves to slow and damage your opponents. Don’t worry: you’ll still find the familiarity of UAVs, Care Packages, Sentry Guns and more in Black Ops II though. Scorestreaks—unlike Killstreaks—are also rewarded for completing objectives and helping out your team in various ways, meaning that you’ll still do well if you’re a support-style player.
New features to multiplayer include CODcasting: a replay/spectating mode where players can record audio over their recorded game sessions, a feature Treyarch hopes will be adopted by the competition scene just as much as the YouTube scene. Also worth mentioning is Black Ops' new ability to Live Stream any game from the console to the web or, in theory, to a mobile device.
There are more small-to-decently-sized changes that make Black Ops II multiplayer arguably the best Call of Duty multiplayer experience yet. The addition of League Play, where players can create ranked teams with friends to progress through skill-based matchmaking and seasonal ladders, is a nice addition that should cater to the competitive crowd. Being constantly matched with a team of your skill-level, winning matches in League Play means that you move up in rank, from bronze to gold and higher. Other changes like maps being generally smaller, shareable and greatly customizable emblems, as well as the rebalancing of weapons and when you unlock them are all just small examples of why Black Ops II multiplayer is so fun to play. New and returning game modes aside, at the end of the day, it’s more of the same, but just different enough where it feels fresh and fun again.
It’s worth mentioning that Call of Duty ELITE is now free as of Black Ops II’s release. This means you’ll be able to access the app on either your console or mobile devices/tablets to access a multitude of multiplayer stats and options, as well as the ability to find friends, start your own clan, win prizes and more.
Now on to the third and final piece of the pie that is Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Zombies mode. Unfortunately, I don’t have nearly as much to say about this whole part of the game since it’s without a doubt the most uninteresting to me. I’m just as big a fan of the “zombie genre” as the next guy, but Call of Duty zombies never really lived up to either Single Player or Multiplayer modes in each respective game it’s been in.
The biggest addition to this game’s Zombies portion is “Tranzit,” a mode where you can take a bus from level to level in order mesh all stages into one big adventure. You’re also able to play “Grief Mode” where your team of four survivors can interact with another group of four players by shooting/attacking them. You can’t damage other players, but you can blur their vision and knock them back into zombies to—as the game mode names implies—grief them. It’s a fun little addition, but nothing that makes Zombies any more special.
“Zombies” just doesn’t match the calibre of neither Single Player nor Multiplayer in terms of quality and refinement. That being said, there’s still a lot for zombies fans to do here: hidden easter eggs, the ridiculous and un-funny dialogue and the usual “Survival” mode, where you’ll take on hordes of zombies, round after round, until you die, is all here. If you absolutely love CoD Zombies, then you’ll be happy with this offering. If not, don’t expect this mode to attract new players in any way.
Instead of Zombies, I would have much preferred to see an update to Modern Warfare 3’s Spec Ops mode, which is, to me, a more fun co-operative experience all around, but I understand that zombies is Treyarch’s thing.
In terms of presentation, Black Ops II is the series high-point for Call of Duty. Rather impressive facial animations and expressions really help the dated graphics engine from showing its age. The sound design was also very impressive this time around, with a focus on making guns and explosions sound more…explosive than ever. Voice acting is top-notch as well.
I spent a good amount of time with both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, and I’m disappointed to report that the PS3 version suffered from slightly blurrier ... (continued on next page)