This is the final installment of our test-drive of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Check out the first half here so you know what the hell we're talking about. We got the rest of the campaign, zombie, and multiplayer under our belt and here is what we came up with.
Choice and outcome are also massive themes in Black Ops II campaign with the addition of 'Strike Force Missions'.
Players will be given control over teams of soldiers, drones, turrets, and other battle-ready units in a real-time-strategy digression from the main narrative of the campaign. The missions are optional, however, succeeding or failing in this missions will have a direct impact on the game. Strike Force centers on a coup attempt in the Asia/India region by the same para-military group that is looking to start WWIII. The relationship between America and China, whether or not we stay BFFs or become mortal enemies, is what hangs in the balance of these missions.
Release date: Nov. 13
You will be charged with defending against wave after wave of comic-book commandos in the Strike Force mission, with each successive mission increasing in difficulty. Objectives range from defending a given position, assassinating a target, or rescue missions. The real-time-strategy is felt most pointedly when you swap from commanding your units as a group, or swapping to take direct control of a soldier or drone. This was a welcome feature, as we could still polish our FPS gun-lust while controlling the battle as a whole. Our only complaint about Strike Force Missions is that there weren't really enough of them
As a whole, the campaign does the best that it can while observing the limitations of current-gen consoles, balancing veteran and rookie fans' expectations for a Call of Duty title, and creating the heftier, star-studded plot that Treyarch had promised. Not the main attraction in any sense, the Black Ops II campaign does a hell of a job of not seeming tacked on, or an afterthought to the competitive multi-player shit-show that the franchise has become.
I think that Treyarch and Activision did most of the motion capture work for Zombies Mode at a local Kinkos. Shambling, lifeless, dead-eyed legions looking for any sign of life to clutch on to. That has always been our experience at Kinkos. Zombies mode, right out of the gate is a much larger affair than before. Offering a more cooperative approach to goal achievement, the new Zombies mode contains several distinct modes of game play. Gone is the 'survive the next wave' only, seen in previous titles.
Tranzit is probably the most recognizable and dramatic shift within the Zombie menu. The trailers were being rolled out for months, showing a spectral bus trundling through an endless hell-scape of the undead. In Tranzit players are charged with constructing power sources, and riding an automated bus from location to location. It gives the mode a more story-driven bend, even if the story can seem a bit one dimensional. One of the largest issues with Tranzit is that players may find themselves in an ammo dessert, surrounded with very durable zombies, and forced to melee your way to survival. The addition of currency points puts a band-aid on the problem, but we found ourselves trying to punch-stab our way out of a shitty situation more than once. Tranzit is cool in a Resident Evil lite sort of way, but lacks any real staying power as a main attraction.
Grief is a four on four play mode that pits two teams against the legions. First team to outlast the other team, and the zombies, is the big winner. You can't attack the opposing team directly, but you certainly can fuck with them. So much so, that they get devoured and you and yours win the match. Interrupting revives, and trapping the other team are all fair game.
None of the modes in Zombies re-defines the features found in previous entries to the franchise. If anything, the whole thing feels like a mid-point between a stand alone Zombies title and the added modes of the past. I'm sure that Activision is working feverishly on a Zombies only title, but the current offering does guarantee a ton of replay value. Fun, but doesn't have the star power to be a draw on its own.
Competitive multiplayer is the girl that everybody wants to dance with, no? The most anticipated component of Black Ops II isn't going to blow anyone's head of their shoulders with innovative new game-play, but that's not what people wanted. We're not saying multiplayer is identical to previous titles at all. If the Sharper Image and the NRA got drunk at the Christmas party, the arsenal of new gadgets found in multiplayer would be the end result. Tons of new maps, weapons, and content are all in place to get your killstreak on. Speaking of killstreaks, they're not calling it that anymore.
The old chestnut of killstreaks has been replaced with scorestreaks. What this means is that you'll get points for participating in all manner of destructive behavior, not just kills. Blowing up equipment, assists, and the like will all go toward your scorestreak total. This total ultimately goes towards claiming a reward, which can range from drone strikes to any other manner of not-yet-invented future death that you've chosen before the match starts.
The biggest shift in multiplayer will come in the form of the new 'Pick 10' system. The 'Pick 10' is essentially a class-creation system. Allowing players full control over any 10 items that they wish to bring to the fight. Want to do your best John Rambo and run around with a knife and amped to gills with perks? Go right ahead. It's a near endless way to tweak your loadout that best reflects your play-style.
The 'Pick 10' system combined with the new 'Wild Card' allow you to further perk out your abilities. Secondary perks are handled with 'Wild Card', but you will most likely be spending the bulk of your time tweaking your 'Pick 10' decisions. Weapons are also given their own progression system to get lost in. Added scopes, grips, stocks, and barrels will all give your sidearm bonuses of its own. All of the content we expect to make an appearance show up to the party. Deathmatch, dominion, and the modes all players expect to see are packaged in the game. What really sets multiplayer in Black Ops II apart from earlier entries is the level of customization now available to players.
Competitive multiplayer doesn't break form, and that can be a good or a bad thing, depending on who you ask. The strength and loyalty found in the COD community is what will keep the franchise afloat, like it has in the past. All of the new features all combine to give the multiplayer experience a shot in the arm, but Activision can't possibly hope to keep moving units on the strength of new sniper rifles or EMP grenades. The multiplayer experience is balanced and engaging. Veteran players that know what they wanted out of the game will get exactly that, and players new to the game will get an experience that feels dynamic and full of future death.
The game doesn't rely on any one mode to carry the game, instead all three modes of gameplay reinforce one another and make the game the wildly popular juggernaut that it is.
Overall Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a lot like Mexican food. It's comforting, filling, you're always somehow in the mood for it, and you pretty much know what you're going to get. You can move the ingredients around all you want, and call it something different by adding chives or mole, but in the end it's still rice, beans, and meat.