And then there’s the gameplay, which is a whole other can of worms. COD campaigns have always been linear and decently easy for at least the last few games, but Black Ops 2 takes it to ludicrous proportions. A solid 50% of the game is simply you nudging your analog stick forward to take you to the next scripted event. When you do get there? You might have to shoot two dozen or so bad guys, but in the campaign, combat is so easy, it’s ridiculous. Your aim snaps to their heads and your gun has no recoil. In close quarters, you can run through with your eyes closed, spraying from the hip. It might be nice to get used to all the new guns, but they’re so heavily modified to make shooting easier, it doesn’t give you a real feel for any of them.
When the game tries to go not linear, things get even worse. There’s an already-infamous segment that takes place on horseback. I actually thought that could be pretty cool, but you essentially just ride your horse around in a sandbox from checkpoint to checkpoint, only stopping to shoot tanks with your rocket launcher that all die in one hit.
Yes, the campaign was easy, way more so than usual, but difficulty isn’t the problem here. Even on hard mode, combat would be exactly the same, just slower, and with less of an ability to run around screaming as you hip fire a dozen enemies to death. The game is so on the rails and enemies are so predictable and stupid, it almost feels like an arcade shooter at this point.
It’s sad that what could have been a decent plot got lost in this stupid choice system and even worse gameplay experience. I’ve given up on COD campaigns after the last few attempts, but maybe if I yell enough they’ll change something for next time.
Next we go to multiplayer, and as I said, having only played a dozen or so games, I’m probably not in a position to say all that much, and that will have to be saved for future installments. One comment about the game in general is that I’m glad that Treyarch at least ATTEMPTED to act like they were making a new game. One of my major “laziness” complaints about Modern Warfare 3 was that they literally recycled everything about the game, right down to the intro, menu, loadout and lobby screens. Black Ops 2 has at least tried to revamp things a bit, and I respect them for that.
So far the game taking place in 2025 doesn’t seem to have changed things all that much. All the guns still shoot bullets, the only difference is that they’re not the same guns we’ve been using for the last five games. Well, they ARE, but they have different names and skins so they at least feel sort of new. There are new pieces of equipment like stun traps and target locations scopes, but overall the game plays exactly the same as past versions, which is what fans want. The biggest use of 2025 is probably the new killstreaks, almost none of which I’ve gotten to use as I can never string that many kills together. Some are just variants of the old ones, but a few others seem cool, like the ultimate swarm of hunter seeker drones you can call in to kill everyone. Maybe someday if my enemies ever let me reach one of my care packages, I’ll get to experience one.
Maps are a hugely important part of any shooter’s longevity, and Black Ops 2 is no exception. Having only played through most of them one or twice now, it’s hard to make many judgments other than some of them are really, really damn ugly. For as much as we were raving about Halo 4’s newfound beauty, that’s how ugly Black Ops 2’s multiplayer is.
That said, maps don’t have be pretty to be functional. Unlike the close quarters nightmare that was Modern Warfare 3, there seems to be a good mix of ranged, mid and small levels. Already the people’s champion is emerging in the form of a tiny level that takes place on a cruise ship. It’s replaced Nuketown as that one small map everyone wants to play. So far, I’m having a blast on that map and others like it with my shotgun class, something that’s been much harder to utilize in past games.
My favorite new addition to the whole set-up is the inclusion of “wildcards” in the loadouts. So far, the three I know about allow you to take an extra perk of the same class. It adds an interesting new dynamic to choosing your loadout, and adds in the complication of making you sacrifice something else for it. So for example, if I want two Perk 1s like Hardline and Lightweight, I have to give up an extra concussion grenade and my secondary weapon. It makes you think about your priorities, and I’m curious to see what the rest of the wildcards do.
The campaign was pretty awful, but I’m having fun with multiplayer, which puts me in the same position as Halo 4. I think that ultimately Halo can be more fun with crazy big team vehicle games and requires more skill to play, but COD is the “easy” option that you can pick up and play like riding a bike. Unless you’re running around like a jackass, it’s pretty easy to get at least a couple kills, even if your game is being dominated by 12 year olds who have taken a sick day from Jr. High to play. I’m happy to report that I’ve actually been kicking ass in my first few games, even with my run and gun shotgun class, and for some reason I’ve always been better at COD than nearly any other title. That said however, I always tell myself that THIS is the time I’m going to max out all the guns and unlock everything at Prestige 10, but I always lose interest way before then. We’ll see how long I last this time, and I’ll be back with another installment.