Review by kiriyama2

"An unremarkable sequel"

I want to say Black Ops 2 had a hard act to follow, I simply can't say that because that implies that Modern Warfare 3 was in any way shape or form a good game. Hell even going back and just comparing BLOPS 2 with BLOPS original isn't necessarily a disservice; Black Ops wasn't exactly the best game either. I'd go so far as to say it's stupid as hell, its drivel, but highly entertaining drivel at least. Another November has come and gone, and with it brought another Call of Duty, another one for the pile.

Unlike previous Call of Duty games BLOPS 2 puts a stronger emphasis on its story. Black Ops 2 focuses primarily on the charismatic terrorist leader Raul Menendez, and the military's attempts to stop him for over forty years. The game starts in the year twenty-twenty five where David Mason, son of Black Ops 1 original main character: Alex Mason, as he visits Woods (Mason the senior's former comrade) to get information on Menendez. The plot proceeds to jump back and forth between the nineteen-eighties and their failed attempts at catching Menendez, and twenty-twenty-five, and their inability to catch Menendez. Something that all the ads and previews tend to spoil is Menendez's main plot in the twenty twenty-five section. Suffice it to say though that the game's story has you jumping through time and space spanning continents trying to catch Menendez and put an end to his plots. Mason Jr.'s story is more to do with Menendez trying to unleash a computer virus and destabilize the nations of the world and bring them under control of his group. While Mason Sr. and Woods' plot is more to deal with why Menendez is such a loathsome creature.

The problem with it is that the story isn't particularly good; the game does try to make it mysterious and intriguing. It doesn't succeed due to constantly whipping back and forth from the past to the future, and back with nary a moment to catch your breath. Also it is supremely annoying that no matter what you do in the game Menendez is always, always one step ahead of you. For a bunch of battle-hardened soldiers no one seems at all willing to put a bullet in Menendez, not one person takes a shot at him (except maybe once at the very start of the game), even when they have the drop on him and they know he's going to kill a whole bunch of people. It gets downright comical how Menendez gets away from these people.

The big difference between BLOPS 2 and previous CoDs is that this one offers the illusion of a branching story. At several points in the game there'll be a part where you get the chance to do one specific thing or another. For instance, there will be an option to shoot one of the villains from the previous Black Ops, or resisting the urge to shoot him. A lot of the time these choices are pointless, if the choice is “shoot the man,” or “don't shoot the man” and you opt not to shoot them they get shot shortly afterward anyway. When there is a “major” choice it doesn't change much, at most there will be a slightly different change in the dialogue, or an NPC support character will be replaced by a completely different character. The other major difference from the other Call of Duties or yesteryear is the inclusion of multiple endings, the choices play some small role in altering these endings, but the choices are unclear, and some of the choices actually get disregarded for some of the endings.

New to the series is the inclusion of “strike force” missions. These missions are small optional missions that take place in conjunction with the main story. What they entail is that they're primarily just a defend the point style of game that lets you jump from soldier to soldier, and even lets you play as the robots that tend to populate the battlefields of the not-too distant future. The problem with these missions is they're actually quite boring. The game plops you down in a small arena, and you can run back and forth between defense points. You can issue orders to the NPCs , automated turrets, and the quadruped mechs of the near-future. The problem arises from the fact that issuing these orders is a moot point, if you leave your NPCs alone they will invariably get killed. The mechs are unbelievably slow, and take a large amount of time to trundle from one defense point to whatever other point you order them to occupy. There are maybe five of these missions in the whole game, and truthfully it's far too easy to write these off as being pointless over all, and they kind of are. The only reason you might play these is to affect the story of the game and the ending. The changes though are miniscule and don't seem to affect that much in reality.

An oddity of this game is the fact that on some missions the game will trot out new pieces of equipment for you to use. In one of the very first missions of the game there's an active camouflage suit that turns you invisible, problem is that the thing doesn't actually work as all the enemies will focus all of their fire on you, even when you're supposedly invisible. For some reason though there's this part where you control a small robot that can crawl through vents and stun soldiers with its taser, and it is honestly the most fun to be had with the game. It's a comparatively small segment but it was the best thing in the game. Aside from these few detours, the game is the typical Call of Duty fare, it's the typical array of guns, well there are the guns of the mid-eighties and the hypothetical future guns which are decidedly more boxy.

The game's multiplayer is largely unchanged from the previous Call of Duty games. Honestly though I tired of the multi with frightening rapidity; and wound up only playing it for roughly two hours or so before I gave it up. I also left the zombie mode unplayed, because frankly I didn't see the point in it. I might be wrong for not giving the zombie mode a fair shake, but due to the horrible singleplayer I wanted nothing more to do with Black Ops 2. What kills me about the multiplayer is just how rote it is, it is honestly the same pile of modes that have populated Call of Duty since ModWar 2. The is not a single new mode to be had, just the same old assortment with new backgrounds.

Want to know the kicker though? This isn't the worst Call of Duty; ModWar 2 holds that crown as far as I'm concerned. It's just that this game isn't good; it's not fun to play, the story's ridiculous, and the gunplay isn't very thrilling. What's remarkable is that the game is quite a bit longer than the past few Call of Duties, not that that makes it better, just an amusing note that this is longer than the others in the series. I honestly don't know what Treyarch can do with this particular series at this point. Set it years after the “conflict” of this game? Take it back to the eighties and just focus on missions in history? Go the distance and set the game in the far-flung future of twenty-one twenty-five?

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 02/06/13

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

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