Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Review
Being completely honest, I haven’t really enjoyed a Call of Duty campaign since the original Modern Warfare. Sure, I’ve spent my fair share of time with the multiplayer in the games since and had some enjoyment, but I never felt that the single player managed to reach the heights of the game that revolutionized the biggest franchise in the world right now.
So when I loaded up Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, I was a little hesitant to jump into the single player, yet excited to go into the multiplayer.
What I Liked
The Past Missions
The direction that Black Ops 2 took with the story is splitting it into two different parts: past and future. I’ll get into the actual story points of these two time frames a little later on in the review, so this part will focus on the action, which is pretty much standard fare for a Call of Duty game.
Starting out in the past, you go around with some very familiar weapons, shooting down the same old enemies. In the very beginning it was actually quite boring to replay what I felt the franchise has been doing for years, but when the gameplay switches between eras often, I began to appreciate the past.
Instead of worrying about all the high tech gadgets to kill your enemies, it just felt like you and your gun against the enemies. Despite Treyarch relying a little too heavily on the past missions in the beginning, it was a great bridge between the new elements with the future segments.
The Future Missions
Unlike the past which felt familiar, the future missions of 2025 all employ some form of new technology or gameplay mechanic. A quick rundown of these include using wing suits to sneak up on your enemies, controlling drones to take out groups of bad guys, fighting through a flooded city while trying to hide from a plane solely designed to kill you, and even dealing with active camouflage.
Nearly everything I played in the 2025 setting was a breath of fresh air that the series definitely needed. To make things even better, the last few hours of the campaign solely took place during this time setting, complete with a mission aboard the USS Obama and controlling a fighter plane, leading up to some of the best moments I’ve ever had in a military FPS.
With the quality of the latter portions of Black Ops 2, I really hope that this is the direction the franchise starts to take.
They Put The Money To Good Use
It’s no secret that Black Ops 2 will be the best selling game of the year, so Activision and Treyarch spared no expense in creating the game. The voice acting is all done by familiar actors (Michael Rooker anyone?), the set pieces are very grand in scale, and the character models on the main cast look better than ever.
Call of Duty games are always at the top of the charts when it comes to online activity and Black Ops 2 absolutely delivers everything you could want in a multiplayer experience. Even I, someone who isn’t the biggest fan of the multiplayer (mostly because I suck), found a lot to enjoy when playing against the world.
First off, series veterans will find the standard COD playlists of Domination, Free-For-All, and Capture the Flag to play through. Though there are no standout maps in the bunch, they all get the job done and this part of the multiplayer is sure to please most people who buy the game.
For people like me who get destroyed in most game types though, once I discovered the Party Games section, I was hooked. In these, you can choose a free-for-all playlist from a set of four (Gun Game, One in the Chamber, Sharpshooter, Sticks and Stones), with the radar always on for easier detection.
My favourite of the bunch is easily Gun Game where you start off with a lowly pistol and after each kill, you get a better gun. Then, whoever gets a kill with each of the alotted guns first, wins. It’s just such a simply premise that is made even better by the fact that everyone starts with the exact same loadout and no one has a clear advantage.
Other playlists like One in the Chamber saddle you with just one bullet, making every hit an instant kill, but you have to make contact to get another bullet. Or there’s Sharpshooter where each person starts with the same gun, then every 45 seconds the gun will randomly switch to another, creating a crazy atmosphere of never knowing what’s coming next.
If all of this wasn’t enough, the game also includes full local multiplayer with up to 9 AI bots, great for those times when Wi-Fi is on the fritz.
While I’m not a huge fan of the Zombies mode, it does have flashes of brilliance. Ganging up with people on Xbox Live to try to survive the zombie apocalypse is worth at least a few hours of fun, complete with a good variety of maps, I just wish it wasn’t so boring for the first few rounds.
What I Didn’t Like
I may have enjoyed the action of the Black Ops 2 campaign, but the story is a letdown. Starting the game off in 2025, you listen to an older version of one of the characters from the past, telling the story of bad guy Raul Menendez. Flashing back to the past, you learn why Menendez became the way he is through the shoes of Alex Mason.
Then, you get brought back into the future where Menendez is still alive and have to hunt him down as Alex’s son, David. Since I don’t want to give away too much, I can really only say that the story became very boring with the numerous betrayals, fake outs, and overuse of the word ‘section’ (David’s codename).
Perhaps my biggest gripe with the Black Ops 2 story though, is that by the time the credits roll around, you’ll have played as five different characters, one of which barely makes any sense.
There’s So Much Pointless Walking
For an action title that boasts a huge war experience, you really do a lot of slow walking. Throughout the campaign, about 20 minutes of your total time will be spent just walking, listening to people talk, and doing nothing. I really started to question why the talking wasn’t relegated to cutscenes because walking as slow as you do is very annoying.
As Good As: Modern Warfare
Looking back on the original Modern Warfare, I can safely say that Black Ops 2 reaches the heights I experienced with that game. If for some reason you skipped any Call of Duty games recently, this is one that will get you back into the series.
I’m almost surprised that I’m giving such a high score to a Call of Duty game, but Black Ops 2 really delivered. The single player campaign is quite memorable with tonnes of action, the multiplayer caters to all audiences, and the zombies mode can be a lot of fun to play through. If you haven’t bought it yet, Black Ops 2 deserves your money as it is one of the best military first person shooters I’ve ever played.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was reviewed with a copy provided by Activision.