As part of our Great Games on a Budget feature, we thought we’d take a look at Call of Duty: Black Ops II, another instalment of the highly renowned Call Of Duty FPS franchise and a sequel to 2010’s Black Ops. Developed by Treyarch and published by Activision, we are taken 25 years into the future to a world no longer running on fossil fuels. In their place lies the next step in clean energy Rare Earth Elements (REE). Of course you can imagine the race to claim a monopoly on the stockpile of these resources. Of course this is going to lead to tension and in this case that is between the USA and China. This tension leads to a second Cold War between the two superpowers which is a really cool concept considering the events of the original Cold War. So how does the story fair let’s find out.
The story of Black Ops II is wrapped around a cyber terrorist called Raul Menendez and the efforts of the US marines to take him down. The story is set in the year 2025 where you play as David Mason son of Alec Mason the protagonist from the original Black Ops. Players also get to play as Alec in a select few missions based in the closing years of the original Cold War, along with one mission as fan favorite Frank Woods (Who has a personal score with Menendez. These missions are especially interesting as we get to play as our favorite characters from the original game. I’m not saying that David Mason’s story is any less interesting than his father’s but the characters involved in the futuristic story are very much stereotypes of different cultures and ethnicities e.g African American who swears all the time. I also feel they did not use the idea of the Cold War with China effectively outside the strike missions which do not do the idea justice. However this COD story does something interesting that no other title in the series have dared to try. They have taken away some of the linearity of past COD campaigns and added in player choices that can affect the conclusion of your story. This concept is an interesting one and I enjoyed going back and replaying just to see what a different choice would do to affect the ending. Overall this was an entertaining story though it had some flaws Menendez proves to be a capable villain but fails to leave a lasting effect on the player.
Gameplay in Black Ops II is your standard point aim and shoot fast paced action COD experience and that is not a bad thing. The controls were tightened up and feel much more responsive to inputs on the controller. Weapons were given a complete over hall with new sound effects and features a big improvement over Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 the year before. Graphics wise this game is 2 years old and with the new hardware of the PS4 and Xbox One you cannot expect amazing quality . However for an aging last gen game the graphics hold their own and you won’t be left with a sour taste in your mouth. Certain set pieces such as a building collapsing prove to be eye-catching and will impress you even with the limitations of the last-gen consoles.
Multiplayer in Black Ops was one of its biggest draw factors. A complete over hall in the way you play with your friends and other player online around the world. The game play still maintains that classic COD multiplayer chaos we have all become addicted too over the years and one ups it in the process. With the addition of the Pick 10 system customisation options have never been so expansive. Players can outfit their avatars with many different weapons with attachments, kill streak rewards, gadgets etc and it really adds a new depth of game play opportunities to the mix. However the single best reason to play Call of Duty: Black Ops II online is you guessed it Zombies.
Zombies is basically a 4 player co-op mode where you and your friends face off the hoard of the undead in a cool and addicting way. Matches are broken up into rounds. With each passing round the intensity and difficulty of the enemies goes up and it’s up to you and your team of friends to face the challenges effectively. Set on open-ended maps you navigate them via a bus which takes you to different points you may defend and gain a foothold in. This mode was by far my favorite and was the reason I kept coming back to the game.
So ow does it rank. Well in terms of other games of its type I think Call of Duty: Black Ops II stands out of the crowd and does what it sets out to do great. While the story at times can be disjointed and some characters stereotypical and not developed properly the story does a good job of capturing your interest even if it is just for a few hours. Gameplay and multiplayer opportunities are where this game shines and if these are aspects you enjoy I would recommend this game highly plus you can pick it up for about £10 now.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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