Review by TightNinja
"Could have been better...not as good as Black Ops 1"
I was looking forward to the release of this game as Black Ops (BO1) is my favorite game in the Call of Duty series. However, I was very disheartened when I actually put Black Ops 2 in my console and started playing. The short version of this review is this campaign could have been great, but some bad design choices with missions and certain technical issues keep it from being better. Zombies is alright and Multiplayer is sub par. Overall this could end up being one of the worst games in the Call of Duty series so far.
Since many FPS campaigns as so linear these days it was refreshing to see BO2 take a non linear approach to story and gameplay. I really appreciate that the game has alternate endings and the fact that your performance on missions determines the outcome. However, which mission and what objectives affect the story you will not know until after you complete the mission. In fact it wasn't until half way through the game that I realized it was tracking my decision points. Had I known that an objective was a vital decision point I may have made another decision. Even then I had to come here to the Gamefaqs boards to actually verify that in mission 2 you can actually do B instead of A The game doesn't make a very good attempt at times to tell you this. You think you are just playing a standard FPS campaign mission when in fact your performance and decisions can change the story.
The strike missions are laid out as a simple RTS minigame, which I thought was great. I liked controlling the different units and the game even lets you quantum leap from soldier to turret and control them directly which is really awesome. However, the strike missions suffer from one fatal flaw. Your units simply do not shoot back. You can move them across the map just fine, but they don't know how use that fancy metal object in their hands called a rifle. I could not complete any strike mission by simply staying in the overhead tactical mode. If I told my units to attack a target 5 feet in front of them, they simply stood there at were shot to pieces. It wasn't until I quantum leaped in a soldiers body that I was able to wipe out the invading force (just like in any FPS campaign). This was disheartening because you can even give them orders in FPS mode to follow you, attack etc. I was hoping that CoD may take some of Rainbow 6 and Ghost Recon' s thunder here but alas it didn't work out so well, maybe next time.
I have never been a huge Zombies fan so I do not have much to say on this topic. Some say they wish it was less complicated others like the new direction. But I will give Treyarch extra points for adding a game mode that people love and want to play. It does add replay value to the game.
As it stands right now the multiplayer is not up to par with previous games. The way Treyarch tried to balance the game this time around was definitely for the worse. I will save the debate about overpowered perks and guns for the boards here at Gamefaqs and I will not take a stance on one side or the other as both sides present a good argument. However, I will say that it appears that Treyarch whether intentionally or not, has narrowed the skill gap between all players both joes and pros alike. It seems that no longer will you have players at the extreme end of either the spectrum (at least not as many as before). Everyone is being pushed towards the middle (pros nerfed, newbies buffed) or however you want to look at it. For some people this is great for others it is a point of extreme frustration.
My low grade for multiplayer however mostly comes from a lack of game modes, (specifically hardcore) the smaller more clustered maps (small maps = spawn issues), and objective placement. BO1 had a ton of great starting maps, (Firing Range, Summit, WMD, Grid, Nuketown, and Jungle). I have yet to really find any other maps in BO2 I feel the same about other than Raid and Cargo.
I also miss having a lethal, tactical AND an equipment slot. I am not sure why IW/Treyarch decided to remove the option to have all three. Flak Jacket in BO1 put an end to nade spamming and even gave you a freebie on claymore and bettys. I also I am not too keen on the new perk decisions (Awareness doesn't even work right now) So there seems to be a lot of miscues that should have been ironed out before the game was released, especially given that the game isn't radically different that its predecessors.
I also preferred the COD points from BO1 to the level up system the rest of the games in the series use. I liked the fact in BO1, I could purchase whatever equipment I wanted, when I wanted it. In BO2 I have to wait until level 40 just to unlock a silencer for an assault rifle, when in BO1 I could unlock it after my first match. I know people like the level up system, but I prefer just to get the equipment I want right of the bat. I personally don't ascribe to the reward me as I go so I don't get bored mindset of current FPS games. I believe that great gameplay a reward in itself. I also believe the level up system is the real reason that current FPS games are unbalanced more so than the perks, abilities and guns but I will save that for another debate.
One thing I would point out about the multiplayer is that that bots are very impressive and thier skill level is very high. They are also abe to navigate objective based modes. The bots are very human like in their play style (camping, going for objectives etc) I am impressed with the bots and the addition of the bots may be the deciding factor as to whether I keep this game or not.
Overall I am disappointed in Black Ops 2. We are still in the early life cycle of the game and they can still patch in more game modes and adjust perks and gun damage etc. So we will see if Treyarch can take the feedback and make the game more palatable to everyone. However, I believe that something must be done, if not then I am afraid this one may have to go back to Gamestop.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 11/27/12
Game Release: Call of Duty: Black Ops II (US, 11/13/12)
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