It’s an odd thing. I don’t mean crazy or anything, like the fact that the song “Happy Birthday To You” is copyrighted. It is!! And technically any unauthorised public performances are illegal unless royalties are paid (allegedly it’s in the region of $700)? In Europe the copyright will run out on the last day in 2016 (and by then I should have a considerable amount of unpaid copyright fees to my name). I mean just a little bit strange. A touch left field.
The odd thing I am talking about, at least one that I found to be weird, concerned the Call of Duty Black Ops 2 advert I saw on TV prior to buying the game. To the joyous tones of AC/DC singing “Back in Black” I saw plenty of pre-rendered graphics showing hovering planes, drones, mechs and even horses. There was also a smattering of footage taken from the campaign. What it didn’t contain was any footage taken from multiplayer, which is strange when you consider it’s pretty much the only thing people will pick this game up for. As well as zombies I suppose.
Let’s face it Call of Duty is all about the multiplayer. The custom classes, intense maps, kill streaks, quick scoping, clans and K/D ratios (to name but a few). It is its raison d’être. The single player could suck and you wouldn’t really care. On the other hand the multiplayer has to be tighter than a camel’s arse in a sand storm. Let’s go there is just a second. I should probably talk about the campaign briefly.
I said that the single player could suck and that’s what this one seems to do very well. It’s awful. I honestly don’t know how or why Trehyarch felt it was a finished product. Saying it feels a bit like a bolt on is akin to saying looking up those topless pictures of Kate Middleton on the internet felt a little bit wrong. Although both left me feeling sullied at least the latter didn’t take up about seven tedious hours of my time.
The opening sequence is bizarre. It takes you through some entangled storyline involving some dude in a wheelchair and some kid falling out of a tree. Eventually the story bit ends and you are thrown into a conflict in Africa. A General barks some orders at you and you have to shoot at people. It doesn’t really seem to matter why, and even though you are fighting on a plain you are frustratingly restricted as to how far you can wander. It’s the same old on-rails format from before and it feels tired.
The graphics aren’t any better either. I know I have been spoilt with Battlefield 3’s Frostbite 2 engine but when I was playing the Black Ops 2 campaign everything felt a bit dated, unpolished and unrefined. Perhaps Treyarch were in a rush to get it out of the door, I don’t know. I just find it hard to imagine any of the developers sitting back after the game’s release thinking “That is the best game we could have made”, unless you were to add the pre-text “In the time we were given”. But let’s not spend too much time berating the campaign. That would be like going out for a meal and complaining about an undercooked starter when the main course was perfect.
If you’re anything like me the real reason you’re even thinking about Blops 2 is for the multiplayer, and in this game the multiplayer rocks, with bells on. The game originally shipped with 14 maps, plus Nuketown 2025 as a time limited bonus for those who pre-ordered. I won’t run you through the full list but I would like to take this moment to tip my cap to the person who came up with the ‘Hijacked’ map: a mostly close-quarters affair set on some super-yacht. It’s stunning, and to be fair most of the other maps are too. This one, though, just seems like the perfect balance of high energy and quick thrills.
What I like about Black Ops (as compared to other well known online shooters whom I won’t name but let’s just say the FIELD of BATTLE tends to be larger) is the choices it gives you.
Custom Classes is standard for CoD, but saying that belittles its genius. Ranking up will unlock more weapons but you will be limited to what you can use as each level up also gives a solitary ‘Unlock Token’. Each item you want to unlock (from guns to attachments and perks) will cost you one token, so ranking up won’t simply give you all these new toys to play with. With limited number of tokens at your disposal you will have to be more careful and thrifty.
Killstreaks are gone, though. Now they have been replaced with Scorestreaks. Rather than simply rewarding players for the number of enemies killed now you have to rack up points instead. You can do this by pretty much everything you do from capturing a flag to killing an enemy, from kill assists to UAV assists. Basically if you do something positive you’re more than likely to get some points for it, and as you aggregate points so you start unlocking your Scorestreak packages. Oh, by the way, your packages will also cost you an Unlock Token.
Game Modes is another win for CoD fans. Once again we have the usual Team Deathmatch, Search & Destroy and Domination (as well as variations on a theme), and I’m glad Treyarch decided to include Kill Confirmed too. This year they have added two new game types: Multi-Team Deathmatch and Hardpoint. MTD allows three of more teams to compete in rounds of Deatchmatch rather than the usual two and it’s actually quite good. To be good at winning this it helps if you play as a team, which seems to be a common theme with these little tweaks. Hardpoint involves securing a point in the middle of the map and defending it. Again team play helps greatly, so if you’re part of an active clan these new modes might be for you.
So the campaign sucks and the multiplayer rocks. The last thing on the menu is Zombies and I’m afraid to say I’m not a big fan. I sort of enjoyed the Nazi Zombies in World at War, but I think half of that was the comedy of it (like the film Dead Snow). Black Ops had me running around the White House as former US presidents killing the walking dead. It quickly lost its charm on me. This time it’s, well, just zombies. Those who enjoy unending swaths the first and second time round will undoubtedly also get their kicks from this, but not me.
Let’s not end this on a downer though. Yes the campaign is a bit crap but I don’t care. Yes the zombies are a bit predictable but I don’t give two hoots. What I came to Blops 2 for was the multiplayet: to create my perfect set up, jump in a game with a bunch of randoms and have a blast. And this game lets this happy bunny do just that.