December 30, 2012

2012 Gaming Year in Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (November)

We’re sorry to inform you that Activision hates you.  In fact, they hate you so much, they’ve decided to steal sixty bucks from you and your wallet, in order to make you play a game released 2 years ago, except this time, there’s a nice “2” appended to the name! Yeah - the “2” costs $60.

Or so many of us would like to assume. Completely disavowing every Call of Duty game in the past, this is the first in the series where you can actually make decisions that will affect the outcome of the game - similarly to RPGs. Thankfully - and sadly, this is probably one of the first FPS games that feature nonlinear gameplay, and we do hope to see more join the ranks of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. While this means that you might just get a horrible ending, it does encourage replaying the entire game, something the Mass Effect series has often achieved.  It also means that it’s not just possible to have one awful Call of Duty ending, but several!

Aside from the story quality staying the same, other similarities to the alternative Call of Duty games include rather smooth and effective graphics, some aging characters from the original Black Ops, and also the addictive gun action that no other game seems to offer.

After the Modern Warfare series, many gamers could safely assume that Black Ops 2 multiplayer would be seemingly identical to the original. However, it isn’t. Although it sticks to its basic system of rewards, it is now replaced with Score Streaks, meaning that instead of kills, a minimum score must be reached to receive a reward. On the bright side, it means that players will finally focus on “playing the objective” instead of just kills. With the introduction of the Pick Ten system, it allows players to modify their “classes” with 10 different elements, instead of sticking to a set number of grenades, weapons, and attachments. In addition, gamers can play games with bots, allowing newer players to adapt to the FPS environment, or just to try out some new combinations without affecting your stats too adversely.

Treyarch brings back Zombies mode to Black Ops 2, with some twists, in addition to the original Survival mode. Tranzit (Yes, that’s how it’s spelled) mode allows players to build objects that may aid them in surviving, as well as travel around a larger map. Grief mode pits two teams against each other, both struggling to survive longer than the other. While the teams cannot directly injure or kill each other, there are indirect methods of putting each other at disadvantages.

All in all, Treyarch and Activision probably could’ve made a remake of the original Black Ops and make around the same amount of money. However, they decided to stray off the beaten track, to create Black Ops 2. I’m glad they did, surprising the majority of gamers out there, allowing us to choose our own endings. Hopefully, from all of this, other developers will realize that allowing players to make decisions that actually affect the ending are beneficial to gameplay, as Bioware has learned the hard way.