Call of Duty: Black Ops II
The Call of Duty franchise is a global phenomenon, selling millions of copies each year and captivating players for months at a time thanks to an addictive, highly honed multiplayer mode. With Modern Warfare 3 racking up 6.5 million sales in the first twenty-four hours of release, this year’s installment, Black Ops 2, has a lot to live up to, but we reckon it’s the biggest and best Call of Duty to date.
In the single-player campaign players take control of Alex Mason, protagonist from the original Black Ops, and guide him through numerous conflicts of the 1970’s and 1980’s, tracking a narco-terrorist causing untold grief to the United States. Viewed as a retelling of events by Black Ops’ Frank Woods, the story also jumps forward to 2025, giving players control of Alex’s son, David, who has to protect the President of the United States during a full-scale assault by parties unknown.
For the first time in the franchise, choices in the campaign will have major ramifications, branching the storyline in different paths, ultimately leading to one of several outcomes. Known as “Strike Force Missions”, these branching paths will appear exclusively during the events of 2025, and can result in the death of major characters.
In multiplayer, radical changes are introduced, reinventing the Create-A-Class system and shaking up streak rewards. With regards to Create-A-Class, the system has been rebooted, introducing players to a new “pick-10” allocation system, allowing an unprecedented number of combinations of create-a-class content. Simply put, players no longer have to take one or two perks from each category; instead, any combination of ten perks or items can be chosen, resulting in thousands of possible loadouts.
Similarly, Streaks have been redesigned, moving away from the Kill focus to one of Score and team actions. Scorestreaks, as they’re now known, reward players for helping their team win the game: capturing flags, defending your teammate with an Assault Shield, getting kills and assists are all examples of actions that help your team win and thus give you score. Each action has a different value and can influence the theater of operations through the introduction of autonomous and player-controlled perks, many of which have hard counters.
The multiplayer mode also embraces eSports for the first time, this year, with the introduction of an eSports casting and live streaming suite built directly into the game. As a live-streaming “CoDCaster”, call out plays using voice chat, mix in player voice chat to reveal their strategies and actions to viewers, switch to picture-in-picture display modes to provide greater visibility of the match, and utilize other tools to give the audience the best possible play-by-play of the frantic action. And to get players ready for their own eSports matchups, Black Ops 2 introduces League Play, pairing players with those of similar skill levels in a fight for supremacy.
Game modes are plentiful, as always, including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Domination, a King of the Hill-style mode called Hardpoint, Kill Confirmed, Sharpshooter, Gun Game, One in the Chamber, Sticks & Stones, and a revamped Combat School with more options than ever before.
If a lengthy, branching single-player campaign and a massive, life-devouring multiplayer mode weren’t enough, Black Ops 2 also features a brand new, bigger and better iteration of the massively popular Zombies mode, that sees up to four players attempting to survive against ever more dangerous zombie foes. This time, there’s a fully-fledged “Tranzit” campaign for the four players to fight through, in addition to the original Survival mode. Little is known about the mode at this time, though we do know that players progress through multiple locations, punctuated by perilous bus rides that attract fare-dodging zombies.
Also on tap in the Zombies mode is “Grief”, a brand new competitive mode that sees two teams of four competing for survival. Unable to attack one another directly, players must sabotage the enemy team’s defenses and find ways of sending extra zombies their way. Again, little more is known about the mode at this time, but it sounds like the icing on a feature-packed Call of Duty cake.
Technologically, Black Ops 2 is the most advanced Call of Duty title to date, featuring a DirectX 11-enabled engine that accelerates rendering and enables the use of advanced Depth of Field effects, and NVIDIA TXAA anti-aliasing on Kepler-based GeForce GTX 600 Series graphics cards. Multiplayer and Zombies will be protected by a robust anti-cheat setup, which encompasses three different anti-cheat technologies in an effort to secure the game against those unable to compete on a level footing, and there’ll of course be other PC-specific settings as seen in previous titles.
All in all, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is the biggest and best title in the series, featuring three distinct, content-packed modes that will keep gamers entertained for many many months.