In the future we will all live in dome-shaped homes, and ride in fuel efficient hovercrafts. Eat pill-sized meals, and watch programming through retinal displays. Yes, the future is bright- thanks to the destruction of the ozone and artificial sunlight built into every new home! Oh, and the world will run on rare earth metals mined in China, and networking security will be total ass. The latter is the more probable option for the future, at least according to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
Set in the near future, 2025, a man seeking retribution for past events unleashes a plot to destroy the world powers. Armed with an arsenal of soldiers with high tech weaponry, and an information network that makes the CIA shrink, Raul Menendez is hell bent on accomplishing something he refers to as “Cordis Die”, first by conquering the Facebook and Twitter, then the Youtube, finally the world!
David Mason takes charge to thwart Raul’s plans only to be played a puppet by the very man who kidnapped him years ago and uncovers the plot to who really killed his father, in turn making his father’s killer reminisce about how he, Alex Mason, and Batman, fucked shit up and thus why things are so ugly! Suspense, drama!
The story seemed to be a jumbled mess switching from Present to Past; one played as David, the son, the other played by Alex, pappy. Overall the story was lackluster. The only depth that arose came from the antagonist where his terrorist actions were a subjugation of torment from apparent inequality between the rich and the poor- first world and third world relations- and how citizens were caught into the mix of things. The story between father and son took a backseat to Raul’s tragic roots.
Gameplay was very tried and true: pick up a gun and shoot it, throw a grenade and watch it explode, follow the objective and complete the game. There was no real substance worth noting in the campaign altogether, which is expected of a franchise released every year. Treyarch attempted to switch things up by implementing moral choices- much like in Mass Effect- only to a smaller scale allowing gamers to choose whether to save a life or take it. It was a refreshing experience to a worn and torn franchise and offered a few different endings; not a real bad experiment.
Real-time-strategy missions were implemented to break up the action, but were utterly disappointing. The system was broken and either the player had to go into a first-person perspective to complete the objective, or give up altogether. Luckily only one mission had to be carried out to progress, the others could be ignored.
The newly reworked Zombies 2.0 is a love-it-or-hate-it type of mode. Survival has the player doing more of the same: shooting zombies ‘til you can’t no more. A classic staple of Treyarch’s Zombies. Aside the few new weapons and perks, nothing was changed to the popular game type. For any person who just wants to shoot zombies for the hell of it, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
Grief is essentially a team deathmatch with the inclusion of zombies. Two teams of four are placed on a map and they can either choose to destroy the opposing team or fight together, though only one team can be left standing. Matches were over too quick as one team would immediately pick off the other. Zombies served as little as a distraction and the maps offered were simply too small for a survival-deathmatch hybrid. Weapons could be obtained in the same manner: kill zombies, repair shit. Not too keen on this one.
Tranzit mode is the cornerstone of Zombies 2.0. A group of survivors go around on a bus, beef it up, and uncover a great mystery! Survivors travel on bus, or on two feet if left behind, to gather utensils to upgrade the bus or make new items to use- like a makeshift riot shield or generator for power. The premise is that a supernatural voice commands the player to perform tasks to discover some plot or ploy, and when done is rewarded with something sinister (not giving spoilers now are we?).
The mode is puzzling the first few tries, but once the parameter is established and everyone knows what to do, all the upgrades/perks/items can be gathered in a single run. Generally the mode was not too hard while playing with others, but alone- like previous installments- is near impossible.
Multiplayer is the saving grace for this installment of CoD as it tweaks with loadouts and the number of items one can have. Only ten items in the loadout can be used at any time and can be customized in any fashion fit. The money system is out the window and is replaced with a point system. Weapons, attachments, perks, and the newly added wildcards (an extension of perks) are bought using the points generated from being promoted a level.
One point can buy anything unlockable and one point is generated from gaining a level. Wildcards are unique “perks” added into the mix that act much like a risk/reward system (kinda). One wildcard costs one point, and thus should be selected cautiously, but can be the oomph in a player’s loadout. One wildcard can add an extra kill streak from either tier, an extra attachment to a weapon, or an extra primary gun.
The game types from previous installments are as they were, but a few are notable like: Kill Confirmed, Hard Point, and Multi Team. Kill Confirmed has been seen on Modern Warfare 3, but has not received the spotlight it deserves. Every kill comes with a dropped dog tag, and in order to get points those tags have to be collected, but if the opposing team retrieves a comrade’s tags the point is denied. Hard point is essentially king of the hill where a team must be within the “hill” to gather points. Multi team pits three teams of three against each other in a variety of game types. Black Ops 2 also includes the first big team battle in the franchise’s history.
Overall, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is the best work from developer Treyarch. It is transcendent from their other works and goes beyond another installment. That being said, it still suffers from franchise fatigue. The story was lackluster, gameplay was not diverse enough, and graphical improvements are generally not seen. The RTS missions bit the dust, and Zombies was unappealing. Multiplayer will stick around as it always has, but other than that, Black Ops 2 is still just another Treyarch Call of Duty. B+.