Review by Parabellum09

"An alienating experience."

I've been a long time fan of Call of Duty games, I've been hooked since the second title released very long ago. The series for me peaked at Modern Warfare 2. Since then the series for me have never quite matched the same level of enjoyment, with various tweaks here and there but ultimately I've enjoyed the experience.

Black Ops 2 trailers looked the business and the overhaul of the create-a-class system the franchise popularised seemed to be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, what we ended up with is a game from a well established franchise feeling very unpolished and alienating to new a casual gamers alike.

CAMPAIGN
I started the campaign looking forward to the rollercoaster ride that I had experienced with the previous iterations. Things started exciting enough but the cracks in the foundations showed very early. The problem is, Black Ops campaign is boring. There is nothing more to really say, the AI is poor at best, the level design uninspiring and the scripted moments felt half baked.

The campaign has a sort of interactive element to it now, with customisable loadouts and several endings that change based on your decisions. There are also new types of missions that are half Command and Conquer and half horde mode, but really badly implemented and show up the glaring lack in the enemy AI. Overall, this is the poorest campaign in the series, by a huge margin. Which is a shame when I consider Black Ops 1 having the most enjoyable and interesting campaign.

SOUND AND GRAPHICS
The first time booting up the game we're treated to a cinematic that is somewhat out of context at the beginning of the game. It's also a really bad display of the game engine. The character models, especially those of the children are incredibly poorly detailed. The COD engine is showing it's age and has gone by with little modification. Ingame wise, things do look better but cutscene animations look jerky and odd.

Sound is nothing major to report, a lot of the usual bangs and whistles, a shame when you consider the amount of different weapons available. You would have thought they'd put the effort into making new sound effects to compliment the setting.

MULTIPLAYER
Now we're at the meat and potatoes, most people make their buy purely on this factor. I've always as stated before enjoyed the multiplayers, with MW2 being my favourite but having played BO2's multiplayer for around eight hours I've more than felt that I've seen the best it has to offer, and I'm not happy.

The first and most glaring issue is the subtle, alienation of the casual and entry level player. BO2 is a hard game to learn, and I've consistently played COD for years now! Weapon handling feels loose and twitchy and the recoil is unpredictable. Snipers get back their quick scoping which brings most players no end of frustration. And players commonly run around out if synchronisation, a fault that's been hanging about since MW2. The simple inclusion of quick scoping is a blatant appeasement to the elitist players that demand it's game breaking inclusion. Tie in the steep learning curve and most players will be put off.

Killstreaks, or as they are known in this iteration: score streaks have left MW3's packages in the dust for the usual racking up of points. The scorestreak system is very badly balanced, it takes four kills in team deathmatch without hardline to obtain a UAV, the most basic of scorestreaks. Everytime you die you scorestreak is reset, and I found myself struggling to keep a consistent stream of UAVs going. Worse moreso is the lack of support scorestreaks, and of the few that are there they require a high stream of points to use, even something as basic as a counter UAV requires over six kills. There are far too many overpowered scorestreaks, Attack dogs and Hunter Drone Swarm? If your good, you're golden if you're struggling you will be demolished.

The maps themselves are a high point and are actually well designed with interesting sight lines and routes and are the best maps I've seen since MW2's.

Create-a-class is also another excellent point and totally turns the customisation we're all used to on it's head. Instead of the usual setups, players have 10 allotments and can fill these up as they wish with perks, weapons and equipment. There are also wildcards which allow the use of a second perk or a third attachment. There's a good balance of customisation, you can go perk heavy of attachment heavy, there is a lot of experimentation to be done further improved by the addition of loads of new toys and gadgets.

So overall, Black Ops 2 is the first let down in the series for me, to the extent I regret my purchase, and my elite subscription. I feel like Treyarch ignored the casual gamer and directed their multiplayer solely at the profession/elite gaming community. The campaign is half baked and zombies itself is a short lived event. One can only hope the next installation is something much better and more designed around a broader audience.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/16/12

Game Release: Call of Duty: Black Ops II (EU, 11/13/12)


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