Thursday, 27 December 2012

Review: Call of Duty Black Ops II (PS3)

When I saw Call of Duty: Black Ops II at E3 in June of this year, I couldn't have been less impressed. The demo we saw was hands-off and consisted of a walk through of the game's campaign and tactical strike missions. For the most part the game appeared similar to past iterations of the series. It wasn't until I actually got my hands on Black Ops II that my attitude changed.

Black Ops II does a lot of new things, while still feeling familiar.

Black Ops II is set during two time periods: the first Cold War (70's-80's) and the new Cold War in 2025. The story switches back and forth between these two time periods.

Gone from Black Ops are the jungles of Vietnam and Cuba; they're replaced with the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, plains of Angola and the dense urban areas of Nicaragua and futuristic landscapes of Yemen, Pakistan and the United States.

The game is a sequel to the original Black Ops game so characters from that game, including Mason, Woods, Hudson and Menendez, are back. Since a majority of the game takes place in 2025 all of our characters have gotten much older and greyer. All of the past missions are told from the perspective of Frank Woods who now lies crippled in a retirement home. The main villain in the game is Raul Menendez whose hell bent on bringing America and China to its knees. David S. Goyer who penned the Dark Knight wrote the script for this game and for the most part it works quite well. There are some parts of the story that aren't entirely flushed out or explained in more detail, but the narrative overall is fantastic and is full of interesting twists and turns.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the campaign is that the decisions you make impact the game's story. Whether you choose to save or kill a character can impact the entire story. In total there are four endings to the game. The in-game decisions are presented through quick time events. These quick time events are intense as I was often left thinking whether I should let certain characters live or die.

Also new are the tactical strike missions.

The strike missions act as a bit of an intermission to the game's main story. In between the campaign's levels you're offered up optional missions whereby you can control multiple units consisting of soldiers and robots completing a variety of objectives. Successfully completing these missions also impacts the outcome of the game's story.

Like Modern Warfare 3, the outer shell of the multiplayer has been changed, while still keeping the gameplay relatively unchanged. There already are tons of game modes to choose from and past modes including Kill Confirmed from Modern Warfare 3 make a return. Most of the changes have been made to how you customize your loadouts. Rather than having your three standard perks to choose from and the ability to customize each gun once or twice, the game has a new Pick 10 system.

The Pick 10 system gives you freedom on to customize your loadout however you want. Each component of a loadout whether it's a gun, an attachment, perk and so forth count as 1 point and you only have 10 points in total to use. You can create an endless combination of loadouts and customize your loadout to your playing style. If you're like me and sick of having to carry flashbangs or smoke grenades, you can ditch them in favour of more perks or weapon attachments.

Since Treyarch has developed this year's title, Zombies mode makes a return. I've never really been a fan of Zombies as I've always enjoyed the Spec Ops mode from Infinity Ward's titles more. That being said, this is by far the deepest Zombies mode to date and those who love the mode are going to get their money's worth.

There will always be those who discredit the series as being a rehash of the previous years titles. For the most part, that does not hold true for Black Ops II. The game packs so much content onto one disc and takes the series in a new direction, even if that new direction is mostly limited to the campaign. While the campaign length is fairly standard of past iterations of the series, it's worth multiple playthroughs and the multiplayer offers endless hours of fun and enjoyment; whether it's slaying zombies or facing off against other players in a wide range of multiplayer modes with an endless number of loadout combinations.

- Sidd Masand

The Good:
- So much content packed onto one disc.
- Terrific Campaign with multiple endings
- Still one of the best multiplayer experiences around
- Zombies mode is back and deeper than ever

The Bad:
- Story is good, but not everything is clearly explained
- Multiplayer gameplay feel generally the same as past titles
- No Spec Ops Mode

Score: 9.0 / 10