Call of Duty is back with the much anticipated Black Ops 2, we got all camo’d up and stepped into 2025 to experience the future of warfare.
The first thing you may notice about the game is it’s hefty price tag (R635 Xbox / R450 PC) however when you glance at the back of the box you will see the three key elements to Black Ops 2: Campaign, Multiplayer and Zombies. These three game modes are presented as entirely different games – even filing them as such within your Steam library. This means that there is a lot of content that comes with Black Ops 2 (over 20 gigs to be exact) so let’s have a look at what you get.
The campaign mode sets the scene with a strong story that spans from the 1980’s through to futuristic warfare in 2025 where the majority of the game is set. Black Ops 2 sees you return as Alex Mason the Cold War operative from the United States. Alex will be attempting to track down Raul Menendez, a Nicaraguan terrorist and drug-runner and trying to prevent a full-blown war between China and the United States.
This is the first game in the series to feature branching storylines. Each mission has a key moment where, if you screw up, you won’t be sent back to the previous checkpoint. Instead, the game will record your failure and allow you to move on. The storyline will then be altered in some way. The game can end in at least five different ways depending on your decisions. This means that all of your actions have consequences and provides that extra bit of depth that previous Call of Duty stories have missed.
Within the campaign mode there are Strike Force mission. In these missions, players take on the role of U.S. forces fighting across the globe against the Chinese. The outcome of these objective-based missions, naturally, can affect the ending of the campaign as well. Players direct friendly forces in battle from a drone flying above the battlefield. They can also take direct control of any unit. You are limited to five units during a Strikeforce mission, and if you exhaust your fleet it will have dire consequences toward the end of the campaign.
The level design also was changed for the better. The Call of Duty franchise is known for tight, corridor levels that usher you through shootout after shootout, but Black Ops 2 offers more wide-open areas, which allow for more flanking opportunities. Treyarch also added the ability to customize your loadout in the campaign – which is a nice addition to the single player experience. Although it is quite short, overall the single player campaign was the best in the Call of Duty series so far.
We mentioned a bit of the campaign mode gameplay earlier, so in this section we are going to focus on the core of the Call of Duty Black Ops 2 experience – the multiplayer.
Black Ops 2 build on an already successful formula to provide exciting close quarters combat that will keep you on the edge of your keyboard for hours on end. The biggest change to multiplayer is the inclusion of the Pick 10 system, which opens up what used to be a more stringent loadout system from past iterations. Each weapon, perk, attachment, grenade and gadget takes up one slot in this system, allowing for countless combinations and a level of customization no other Call of Duty has offered. Never use a secondary weapon? Ditch it and opt to take an extra attachment on your primary. This opens up a world of customizability which really helps you get the most suited setup for your playing style.
Within multiplayer there is a wealth of game modes including the standard TDM, CTF, Search and Destroy etc. The inventive “Wager Match” modes from the first Black Ops return as “Party Games.” Modern Warfare 3’s frantic “Kill Confirmed” has also been included. Newbies can learn the ropes and earn some XP in “Combat Training” playlists that pit them against bots (which really helps with the very steep learning curve of online gaming). It’s safe to say that Black Ops 2 has the most extensive multiplayer offering of any game in the series.
The zombie co-op mode is treated as a third pillar of Black Ops 2 in contrast to previous two editions. The game ships with three Zombie filled maps, with a fourth available to anyone who bought a special edition or the Season Pass. The Zombies gameplay pits you and up to three others against wave after wave of the undead. You are awarded cash after each kill which can be used to build fortifications and purchase additional weapons. Tranzit is the new story-based mode that takes you from area to area trying to ward off the zombie invasion. Though the mode is frantic, the story doesn’t quite feel fleshed out enough.
Another new Zombies mode is Grief, which pits teams of four against each other while trying to survive the zombie horde. Players can not kill each other but can entice the zombies to attack the opposition. This adds even more strategy because now you have to contend with other players, instead of just AI-controlled zombies.
The graphics are what you would expect with a massive title like this, having improved from the previous game by adding a significant amount of detail. The single player campaign makes the most of these graphics without a doubt but the overall polish can be felt throughout the game especially when it comes to the audio.
The game is optimized really well and ticked along beautifully at 60 FPS on my 460 GTX even with all settings turned up. Just make sure that you have the latest Nvidia drivers – the new ones that just released claim a 28% increase in Black Ops 2 performance and check out Nvidia’s Black Ops 2 optimisation guide to get the most out of your GFX card.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. Our review is based on the PC version. It is also available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U.