Heather Spears’ take on the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 single player campaign:
Although the stories in Call of Duty games aren’t usually what most players love most about the game, Call of Duty Black Ops II’s campaign mode is brilliant. This mode not only has a stand-out plot in the Call of Duty series but the statement stands true even in gaming as a whole. Black Ops II has done something with the camping that has never quite been executed in such a manner with player’s choice in the gaming industry. Choices are not the only thing that makes this mode particularly outstanding but the creative take on future warfare, past and futuristic weapons, memorable yet familiar characters, challenges and strike force missions really help to make this aspect of the game one of the single best elements of any Call of Duty game to date.
Above, we have mentioned that the player’s choice options are what make Black Ops II really noticeable in expression of story. This is most definitely true but must be explained because this title is nowhere near the first game to attempt to wow players with their own choices. In Black Ops II the player can choose how the story will play out but not in the normal manner. A box does not come up and tell you the choice and consequence but the games continues to play if what the player has done was meant to be the way it was played. Most everything, even to the smallest detail can be controlled by the player without interruption to actual game play. If the player decides to take their own route instead of listen to directions at certain points it will show through to the end of the game. This is a completely new experience that shows players that they are in control and that their actions have consequences without dragging them out of the game to do so.
Along with the topic of choices, the fact that there are so many major and minor choices to make all within the campaign mode of Black Ops II gives the game incredible replay value. When the player finishes the game one way they are left wondering what would happen if they decided to do something another way. When gamers jump in and try things out differently they will notice the changes, even certain dialog will be different if slight choices are made; or something as large as an absence of a major characters can be changed upon the players hands. The choices can be made so discreetly that the player may not even realize they have done something to change the conclusion of the game, and once they do find out something can be changed they will want to go back and try it another way. Black Ops II story can be considered a single game mode but in reality this is more like multiple stories all in one making it more like multiple modes because of all the different ways the game can be finished.
Within each story missions there are challenges which are a first in the Call of Duty series. These challenges range from a variety of different tasks that the player can choose to do or not. There are perks that come along with completing these challenges like achievements and in-game points which give players some incentive to do them. Once the Career Record Update signal comes up on screen the player has received credit for the challenge. Beware though, the only way to save the challenges that have been completed is through completing the missions, so there is no playing half the mission and quitting once it’s finished. On a positive note, not all the challenges have to be completed at one time but the level does need to be completed in order for one to count… no cheating! Challenges are another way to up the replay value in the game considering some of the challenges are pretty tough.
Another fantastic element to the games campaign mode is the weapons. It is very neat to see the past weapons and then the mix of the future weapons. One of the main fears before the game was released was how believable the future setting would be portrayed and if the weapons would fit together. Once the game was released all fears were put aside when players witnessed Treyarch at their full creative capacity but kept everything believable of the near future setting. Having the game move from past to future set Treyarch up with something that they could have done anything with because players have no clue of knowing what the future holds. Instead of taking that power and abusing it with weapons and abilities that players wouldn’t believe were in that near future setting they kept it with aspects that were cool, futuristic and yet believable. This is an area of high praise for Treyarch because it is something that could have so easily gone wrong but thankfully didn’t.
A few of our favorite futuristic weapons in the campaign included the gloves that allowed the player to stick to the rocky wall surface and Ziggy, the mechanical spider. At a few points during the campaign the player will be able to control their character on a rock mountain cliff with these really neat gloves on. These gloves allow the character to stick to the wall without gripping the ledge. This is something that was neat and unique, as well as, showed off the futuristic approach to some areas of the story without going overboard. Another futuristic weapon that was a joy to use was Ziggy the spider. This is a mechanical spider like device that had every capability that a spider in real life would have except it could jump, taze and gather information. The spider that players control in Black Ops II is just like natures most feared critter except it is a robot and quite possibly more deadly!
Gamers will also be pleased to know that most characters from the original Black Ops return in Black Ops II. This was most definitely expected once the trailer was released featuring Sgt. Frank Woods as a retired veteran but was still a pleasant sight to see when starting the game. The story continues perfectly with the way things left off with the original game despite the future setting because there are points to where the game does sink back off into the past. Players will see Alex Mason and Jason Hudson again along with a cast of new characters. It is so neat to see how Woods has aged over the years and is nice to know that he is just as cool as he was before. Woods has the same attitude in his later years as before but players can also see the way battling and age has affected him. The way the old and new mix alone is enough to praise the game. With that being said, this game or at least this mode is very unwelcoming to new players. If a player has not played or beaten the original Black Ops campaign then they will probably find this element of the game to be far less enjoyable.
In Call of Duty single player in the past, some of the AI characters hold the players hand through the entire game. This is not the case with Black Ops II, for the most part, as your character seems to be in more control over the surroundings than your AI counterparts. There are points that are classic to the Call of Duty style (follow the other character to certain point) however, in Black Ops II it feels like the player is in complete control. It may seem like a small change but the player can sure feel the difference in control between Black Ops II and other games in the Call of Duty series. This is apparent in the Strike Force aspect of the single player story.
Aside from the actual plot there are also missions within the story title Strike Force. This missions offer players a different take on the Call of Duty series as they are not controlling one character but a small army of soldiers and drones to accomplish certain tasks. There are a total of five Strike Force missions within the story that must be completed at certain points during the campaign. These missions are a unique take that add strategy into the first-person shooter genre. Just like the points within a mission that alter the way the story plays out the Strike Force missions also have to do with story progression.
Overall, Black Ops II campaign is one of the most magnificent plot lines playable in video games. This is a astounding rendition of what can be done in gaming and having these choices is something that can inspire other game to do the same. To have an aspect that so many gamers turn a blind eye to be something so magnificent is beyond belief. The Black Ops II story is something that cannot be acquired anywhere else. It is the way players make choices that force it to stand out; it is the weapons, the charters and setting that pushed this mode over the edge. If you are not a fan of multiplayer or zombies but still want to jump in on the Call of Duty action, Black Ops II proves that the campaign is stand-alone. The amazing experience of Black Ops II campaign is something that will please gamers around the world but will also offer the want and need to replay the story to find out more information.
Jim Girgenti’s take on Black Ops 2 Zombies:
In Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Treyarch has upped the anti when it comes to zombies. First of all zombies have always been a hit no matter the game or portion of a game… they just never seem to get old. Everyone loves zombies and Treyarch have made more Zombie Modes to play in Black Ops 2 than just your standard survive as long as possible… while that notion is always still there no matter what you are doing while playing zombies in the game. A new mode (I suppose you could call it that) has been introduced called ‘Tranzit’ and this basically just let you travel from map via a bus (driven by a creepy robot skeleton) letting you take advantage of all the maps in one playthrough. However the bus makes its rounds to each map so it will not just wait for you to hop on forever. You can find parts to upgrade the bus (roof latch, side ladder, etc.) as well as parts to create certain unique objects that help you to survive. For instance the most basic of these is a device that when taken out (after built at a bench using the parts needed) you can use to open doors without having the power on. That is really just the tip of the Iceburg when it comes to new additions, with another device like auto turrets and more which again require you to find the parts (usually 2-3), then find a bench to build them.
Along with all that they have added a bank which is used to store points that you had acquired from a previous game. So as long as you can make it to the bank in one piece you can essentially start off on a lower round with a shitload of points to purchase/upgrade weapons, open doors and more. Depending on what mode you are playing you may have to build the pack-a-punch machine. There is also a fridge on the farmhouse map that doesn’t have cold beer in it, but rather lets you put a weapon in it to save it for a rainy day, or when your out of ammo, have a crappy weapon or whatever the case may be. If you upgrade a weapon and then store it in the fridge, it will be there just as you left it even after leaving the game and starting another one. The same goes for the bank and only you can take points you have put in the bank, not your team-mates. This has also only been tested online by us and even works in single player but you must be online and not local play.
Aside from ‘Tranzit’ you can also play each of the maps individually but, there is no bus however perk machines as well as other things have been changed around a bit. This mode is just called ‘Survival’ and you cannot get to the ‘Town’ map unless you are playing ‘Tranzit’. Additionally, Treyarch has added yet another mode (which has not proved to be quite as popular as the others) which is called ‘Grief’ and here it is basically a team of players vs another team of players vs the zombies, making it ultimate mayhem. Now when you first go into the general Zombie mode, you are given a choice (via a planet/areas on the planet) to play the on disc maps or the Nuketown 2012 map if you have it (from the Season Pass or the Hardened Edition). This display of options seems likely it will be the way DLC in the future will be formatted, like choosing different DLC maps on the planet infested with Zombies. Now there are a ton of Easter Eggs and voices telling you what to do depending on what character you are playing as, so I will just leave it at that. There is plenty to delve into with the Zombie Mode in Black Ops 2, but it is still done in the same fashion as the previous games for the most part… except for this new creature that grabs onto your face while you must knife it off of you should you venture into to the fogged areas in ‘Tranzit’ mode. They have even added a new ranking system just for zombies, but it is more of an overall trueskill based system which Treyarch has not disclosed how exactly it works, but being a team player, opening doors first will likely get you ranked up from one of the eight ranks.
Jim Girgenti’s Mutliplayer Rundown:
Call of Duty is back meaning months of everyone’s lives will be lost playing the online multiplayer. The experience here is familiar yet new in some aspects, in the form of the create a class as well as in our competitive gameplay. In terms of the gameplay the standard issue COD experience is here with some tweaks to make the game feel a little differently than the others. Grenades now arch meaning you player online never threw a baseball in his life. The responsiveness of controls even feel tighter than ever however sometimes we feel that the character on screen responds a little to slow. This is especially found in the analog sticks movement or the keyboard and mouse while playing on the PC. All small differences aside this game feels the same as is has for the past six years, which could be a problem for some gamers who are strapped for cash.
The new Theater Mode will record all your most recent matches and will actually let you edit them in very precise detail, splicing different match highlights together essentially being able to create you very own video montage right from your console. After you do this TreyArch has implemented a feature where you can directly upload from your console (or PC) to YouTube which is obviously the most popular video site, not to mention the most convenient to add personal videos to. This alone is a huge deal and brings a lot more to the game, however the game must be enjoyable for you online and you must be able to use highlights that are entertaining whether they are from skill or luck. No one wants to see a montage of you getting spawn killed repeatedly.
All in all the online Multiplayer experience has not changed all that much from the previous couple in the franchise. Every time a Call of Duty title is released since the Call of Duty 4 game revolutionized multiplayer, it seems that a couple of new things are added here and there, while a new look is thrown over an already used layout. Do not get me wrong, if you are a Call of Duty fan, whether hardcore or casual you may very well enjoy the hell out of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 multiplayer. They have added some really cool looking gun camos, a lot of more futuristic weapons are available where you won’t find any M4, M16 or anything that is quite like it from the older games. Prestiging in Black Ops 2 is finally truly rewarding players with much more than a new emblem, as you get to keep many things even after prestiging. Every time you do prestige you can use a token on a number of things whether is be my personal favorite to the new addition which will permanently unlock any item, perk, weapon, etc. in the game no matter your level or prestige… you will always have it. You can prestige weapons, to add tag and emblems on them but always keep you camos/camo progress. You can start at level one with no prestige, gain extra create a classes and more.
So if you are looking to continue your joy from the last game or even are new to the franchise, the multiplayer may provide you with one of the most fun online experiences you may ever have… not to mention addictive. However I have played every single Call of Duty game ever made which many in the online community for Black Ops 2 cannot say. With that I must say that the multiplayer in each of the titles seems to shift back and forth between two or more specific player styles, where they add a feature or mode and then take it out in the next title, with the process just repeating as the formula that was originally created by the founding members of Infinity Ward is just being polished and repeated as I would presume it will continue to until a new shooter comes out that does not just take players away from Call of Duty but breaks it completely. So it is really up to you to decide, even with what I had mentioned I still felt obligated to take advantage of a double XP event, getting sucked into it and in the end enjoying the process or formula at hand for unlocking things, customization, prestiging, etc. So odds are you will enjoy it very much as there are many different modes to play and you will surely take a liking to one or more of them no doubt. However you are generally going to be a Call of Duty player that plays mostly that and that alone (which will save you a lot of money, while keeping parents happy they do not have to buy another game until the next one) or you will have a taste, then pass on to play other titles as you broaden your gaming horizons.