Call of Duty: Black Ops II Review

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call of duty: black ops IIBy Heinreich T. Sioson

It’s fun, so go buy it.  No, really.  If you’re a fan of the franchise or are looking to jump back in, then Call of Duty: Black Ops II is the game for you.  Need convincing?  All right, here goes…

The storyline directly follows the first Black Ops and deals with the maniacal Raul Menendez, leader of Cordis Die.  Set in 2025, he hopes to set the world ablaze by having the major powers go to war with one another and cause a popular rising amongst his followers. You play as David Mason – son of Alex Mason from the prequel – and you lead soldiers in a covert war to unravel and stop Menendez’s plans.  You also jump back to the past and play as his father, setting up the backstory for Menendez’s rise to power.

What follows is a story that is very interesting and engaging, both of which can be said of many of the characters.  Raul Menendez himself, while sometimes feeling like a cookie-cutter villain, is very sympathetic and arguably steals the show away from the primary protagonist of the game.  Even though the narrative gets a little tongue-in-cheek with the inclusion of a few famous names in history, the way it unfolds is compelling.  There are a number of actions you can take that changes events in the campaign and making one choice over another might be enough to change the ending, of which there are several.  Some are obvious while others are deviously subtle, which can make you hesitate and think; this is something I enjoyed very much and found very intriguing.

If you played any of the previous incarnations before then you know how Black Ops II plays.  That said, the changes in multiplayer are very much appreciated and revitalized my interest.  Killstreaks are gone and have since been replaced with Scorestreaks.  Action skills are no longer attached to how many kills you make but how much you score in a short period of time before getting killed.  This allows for greater teamwork because it forces players to play with their team in mind as opposed to personal accomplishments and their kill-to-death ratio.  UAVs, Counter-UAVs, and Care Packages return, but new streaks like the Guardian and the ominous Swarm have been added to freshen up the skill system.

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You still rank up and you can Prestige all the way up to level 10, at which point absolutely everything is unlocked for you.  The Playercard returns with Calling Cards, Clan tag, and Emblem which you can customize.  Players can also create their own vids with the Highlight Reel.

The Create-A-Class has been revamped to a 10-point system where players are given 10 points to use however they want to customize their class.  From weapons to perks, they are free to mix and match their load-out.  A new feature introduced this time around are the Wildcards, which allows players to “break” certain multiplayer systems.  For example, one Wildcard allows you to carry three attachments on a single weapon while another allows you to equip 2 perks of the same type at the same time.  Each of these also count a point to equip.  These new enhancements to multiplayer is a breath of fresh air and allows for greater customization.

Though not my cup of tea, Zombies mode gets its own campaign mode called Tranzit, where players travel through multiple maps killing zombies and racking up points.  Survival mode makes a return, followed by a sort of 4v4 competitive mode called Grief.

call of duty: black ops 2My problem with the game comes in the form of the “optional” Strike Force missions.  You are given a top-down view of a battlefield and you are given control over a number of units a la an RTS.  Unfortunately, the A.I. for the units under your control is dumb.  Getting from point A to point B is a chore; so much so that expecting them to complete a mission on their own is quite the stretch.  Thankfully, you can hop into any of the units you control to accomplish your mission.  It is still frustrating at times, and adding to this is the fact that the main story can change if you fail too many or all of these “optional” missions.

My last love affair with the franchise ended a couple of years ago with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2; it was mutual and I had my fun but it had to end.  Initially I was skeptical about Call of Duty: Black Ops II thinking, “God, here comes another one.”  But hearing more and more about it, the game intrigued and finally getting in-depth with the game I was glad to rekindle the relationship.  The gameplay is familiar but fun, and the new additions and tweaks make the experience fresh.  Despite my problems with the Strike Force missions, the campaign is solid and the story is one that should be experienced at least once.

My verdict is simple: buy it.

 

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