Call of Duty Black Ops II, a first person shooter of the Call of Duty franchise that began in 2003, is the 2012 sequel to the original Black Ops of 2010 and features three different game modes for players to explore, including the traditional campaign, online multiplayer, and the zombie game mode. As one of the best selling game franchises of all time, Call of Duty sets the standard for first person shooters across all platforms, offering gamers the virtual experience of warfare and combat.
The Black Ops II campaign continues of the previous Black Ops story, following both Alex Mason and his son David Mason in an extended battle against Nicaraguan terrorist Raul Menendez. Straying from the archetype Call of Duty campaign, Treyarch developers incorporated a nonlinear-style timeline into this Call of Duty single player campaign mode, including flashbacks between the first Cold War and the fictional 2025 Cold War between USA and China. Also, this campaign enables multiple endings, where in-game decisions and mission outcomes permanently affect the ending that the user experiences upon the conclusion.
As far as gameplay, I found that after playing through the first half of the campaign, the storyline of Black Ops II was defiantly hard to follow, where at times I did not know why I was going through certain missions or my characters purpose. Another aspect of the Black Ops II campaign that I found troubling and frustratingly presented was the new addition o thef Strike Force missions, which are side missions alongside the main campaign, where the user controls various “future” warfare devices to ward off incoming waves of enemies. I found these missions difficult to complete successfully, and the outcomes of these side missions would impact the ending of the storyline of the campaign. As far as graphics and sound design seen in the campaign, I thought the minimal improvement did not influence my desire to continue interacting with this part of the game. At this point in the game, I decided to forgo the rest of the campaign in favor of trying out the multiplayer and zombie game modes.
The next facet offered in this installment of Call of Duty is the continuation of the Zombie game mode, featuring the capability to team up with three other players and take on endless hordes of the undead. With the additional downloadable content currently available, the Zombies game mode allows gamers to embark on the struggle to survive in three different locations, most notably, Alcatraz Island, entitled Mob of the Dead. With the zombie game mode, the replay value of Black Ops II exponential rises, as each round that the player undertakes leaves him or her desiring to better their time of survival, as there is no possible way to “win”. Also adding to the replay value of this game mode is the extreme amounts of detail incorporated into the game design, which creates a unique and engrossing environment that instills a sense of fear and distress each time the user embarks on this mission.
Within the zombie game mode, Black Ops II also offers a brand new game mode entitled “Grief”, which places a total of eight players into two separate teams that battle it out to see which team can survive the longest. While skeptical upon entering this game mode for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by the design and implementation of “Grief”, as it capitalizes on all of the previously mention successful aspects of zombies, while simultaneously combining a competitive team driven experience.
Finally, Black Ops II obviously offers a massively multiplayer experience through the online multiplayer game mode, where gamers can battle hundreds of thousands of other players from across the globe. As expected, there are a variety of included and downloadable maps to explore while battling others, from a skate park to a plane crash site, and overall I found the diversity and detail in this maps to be pretty well produced and detailed while playing the online mode.
The multiplayer experience of Black Ops II is overall very similar to previous Call of Duty games; however there are a few changes I find that both help and hurt this game mode. One of these alterations seen in this game is the addition of a “pick ten system”, where the user is allowed more free rein when it comes to building your classes, which include guns with attachments, secondary weapons, explosives, and perks. I find this addition to be one of the positive changes to the original Call of Duty multiplayer layout, as it encourages a more liberating experience, where I as the gamer can ultimately choose what items I want to use in battle. However, I believe that this “pick ten system” should be implemented in an even freer manner, as the gamer is still limited in some fashions even with this system in place.
One of the alterations the gamer experiences, which I find to be one of the more negative changes in Black Ops II, is the addition of skill-based match making. Implemented to filter the game lobbies that players were placed in when finding a multiplayer game, this system organizers gamers based on their calculated skill level, placing similarly skilled players into the same game lobby. While in theory this system may sound ideal, however I find that this system does not allow for gamers to casually play and enjoy online multiplayer games, as each player is required to constantly put up their best efforts. This ultimately prevents users from experimenting with other weapons or accessories, as the use of only a limited number of weaponry will allow the gamer to perform at consistent high levels.
Overall, I would recommend Call of Duty Black Ops II to any gamer who enjoys first person shooters, as this game provides a generally well designed interface, that allows users to actively challenge their skills in virtual gaming warfare not only through campaign play, but through battling zombies with friends or challenging others around the world in a multiplayer environment.