Review by Ollie The Magic Bum
Bad. Just bad.
With the exception of the very first game in the series, I've played every Call of Duty game and enjoyed the holy hell out of them all. Be it the earlier games with their insane difficulty in campaign, or Modern Warfare 2 with the One Man Army/Danger Close combination sent straight from the devil himself, the games have been enjoyable despite their problems. This, however, ended with Black Ops 2. There are very few positives to take from the game. It's garbage from top to bottom. The controls and graphics are pretty much exactly what we've come to expect from Call of Duty games. I won't go into any details with them as they've been done to death. I'll just be breaking it down into single player, multiplayer, and zombie sections, because really, that's what we all care about. Right? Right.
Call of Duty has never been known for a deep story mode. Every game has basically boiled down to some kind of evil mastermind (fictitious or not) bent on world destruction, and you're sent to stop them. Simply put, the story isn't very enjoyable. It's just boring.
While the story itself may not be the best, Treyarch did decide to spice up the mode a bit with several new features. The first of these is the ability to customize your loadout before missions. This is similar to the multiplayer Create-A-Class menu. It's kind of cool to be able to choose what you'd like to bring on the mission, but really, it's almost unnecessary. You can find just about any kind of weapon you want on enemies after killing them. I won't knock it though, it does make some missions easier starting with a certain kind of gun. The second of these is a RTS (real time strategy) mode. It's cool in concept, but in practice, it's bad. On any difficulty other than Veteran, the AI is idiotic, enemies and teammates alike. On Veteran, your teammates are still utter dumbasses, but the opposition is deadly accurate. This isn't unlike any other COD game, but it really forces you to play in the first person view of the mode rather than the omniscient view. Your guys will be lambs to slaughter without you physically controlling one of them. The third of these is the ability to make choices at certain times in the campaign. I won't spoil anything, but it actually is a good thing they've added. It gives you more of a sense of control over the story.
Ah. Online. This is where 99.9% of the time in this game is spent. No longer do you simply unlock guns, equipment, and perks at a certain level, you must use a token to REALLY unlock them after they've been unlocked by reaching the proper level. Confusing enough? Prestige tokens return and allow you to unlock an item permanently for use throughout all other prestiges. The game basically forces you to prestige since you won't get enough tokens to unlock everything until you do. It's really a pain in the ass for people who don't play this game a lot, and just want to have everything unlocked after progressing through all 55 standard ranks.
The Create-A-Class system has been totally revamped as well. It's now a "Pick10" system. Each gun, attachment, piece of equipment, and perk costs 1 point. There are ways to manipulate the system via wildcards to get more attachments, equipment, or attachments on a gun. All in all, it's a pretty neat system. If nothing else, it's something fresher than the system that's been in use since COD4.
Creating emblems returns as well, but with a twist. Emblem pieces are now unlocked by completing challenges in the game. It's a much better way to get them rather than using the COD points in the previous Black Ops game. It encourages players to try out different game modes than they may usually play. The layers allowed to make an emblem have also been significantly increased, allowing for much more creativity. Unfortunately, there's still a ton of genitalia, swastikas, and racist content being made, poorly I may add. It's to be expected with the lousy community this game has though.
Now we come to gameplay. In one word, it's atrocious. This is one of the most poorly designed games I've ever had the misfortune of playing. From map design to literal movement, it's all bad. The maps are all very cluttered and poorly thought out. In previous games, there were distinct choke points in every map. This worked to the advantage of smart players, whether they were playing defensively or rushing. This is no longer a thing. There are now a ton of different ways to get into everything, whether it be alleyways or buildings. There's no way to know when an enemy is coming since there's simply too many ways to get everywhere. You'd need to have ADD and be hyped up on Mountain Dew to cover every flank. The awful spawns from Modern Warfare 3 have unfortunately made their way to this game too. Expect enemies to spawn only feet behind you, killing you instantly.
The lag in the game is the absolute worst part. It's a far too common occurrence to unload what looks like a full clip into your enemy, only to be killed in what looks like one bullet. Upon viewing the kill cam, it shows that you not only hadn't shot a bullet, you didn't even raise your gun. Not only that, but the guy you thought you were shooting at was nowhere near where he was on your screen. The game is simply unplayable with the horrendous lag. It's not fair, it's not competitive, it's not even fun. It's literally a crap shoot as to who will win a face to face confrontation, with no skill involved whatsoever. It's another very common occurrence to not even be able to connect to a game, thanks to COD's infamously bad online servers. (They're not dedicated servers, it's all P2P) The hit detection is also very poor as it has been in the other Treyarch-made Call of Duty games. Expect to get VERY frustrated trying to play this online.
Zombies has been revamped as well. Instead of one big map with a lot of doors to unlock, it's a bunch of smaller maps linked together by a bus ride. It's really fun to play with friends. There are quite a few items to pick up that can be used to make other tools to help you unlock all the secrets of the TranZit mode. To be perfectly honest, this is the only redeeming factor of the game for me, and it's the only thing preventing me from throwing it on eBay and hoping I can at least get some of my money back.
Overall, Black Ops 2 is a colossal disappointment. Even for fans of the Call of Duty series, I can't recommend it. It's just not a very good game. I'm sure most of you will buy it anyway, ignoring reviews, just because it's the most popular game out at the moment. It's unfortunate that the companies that made this game can profit off such a half-assed final product.
Game Call of Duty: Black Ops II (X360)
Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Product Release: Call of Duty: Black Ops II (US, 11/13/12)
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