Black Ops 2 Comes Through For the Holidays

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Davis Walker, Staff Writer

It’s the holiday season once again, and for gamers all around the world, that means video-game season. In the last few months, video game producers have graced us with FIFA 13, Halo 4, and the ever-coveted Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

Black Ops II followed the mid-November Call of Duty release date, debuting on Nov. 13, 2012. The game is produced by Treyarch, which also produced the original Black Ops. Treyarch-produced Call of Duty games have generally not been as popular as those produced by Infinity Ward, but Treyarch took a leap of faith and made Black Ops II the first Call of Duty to feature future weaponry and technology.

In an attempt to avoid repetition, Treyarch has added a plethora of new features to each mode. Similar to the past, Black Ops II is divided into campaign, multiplayer and zombies.

The campaign is undoubtedly one of the best parts about Call of Duty, and the Black Ops II campaign doesn’t disappoint. The graphics are stunning as usual, and one can’t help but be intrigued by the slow motion, action packed cutscenes.

The story is centered on a villain named Raul Menendez. Menendez is a Colombian cartel leader with a vengeance. All of his family has been killed, including his beloved sister Josefina, who is the victim of a grenade thrown by Frank Woods. Menendez is easy to sympathize with, and the campaign includes a couple levels where the player controls him. This adds a nice touch and a new point of view to the events that are unfolding.

Half of the story is continued from the original Black Ops and takes place during the Cold War, with familiar characters Frank Woods and Alex Mason chasing down Menendez in various countries. The other half of the missions take place in 2025. Drone warfare is prominent and there are several next generation guns and gadgets used in this half of the campaign. The future missions are much more fun than their Cold War counterparts, and some of them take place in locations such as war-torn Los Angeles or a multi-billion dollar island resort.

Black Ops II is also the first Call of Duty title to integrate player decision making, which influences the ending, into the campaign. This feature is minimal and feels formulaic, but it can lead to different outcomes and it will be interesting to see how the franchise improves this in the future.

The multiplayer in Black Ops II has the same vibe as other games in the franchise, with a few new features. Treyarch has added a pick 10 custom class system, league play and new game types Multi-Team and Combat Training.

The biggest change is the integration of the pick 10 system for custom classes. This allows players to pick a combination of 10 weapons, perks, grenades and tactical gear. For example, one can drop a secondary grenade and put an extra attachment on their primary weapon, as long as the total amount of items does not exceed 10. This makes the loadouts much more customizable, and has the potential to be very deadly. It is a little bit harder to get used to, and players might have a hard time getting kills when they first start playing online.

Treyarch has also added league play, which puts players in matches against each other based on skill. There are a few preliminary matches to determine players’ skill level, and they either move up or down from their rank based on performance. It is an interesting feature reminiscent of Halo’s vastly popular ranked playlists. However, it is not as popular in Call of Duty and not very many player’s partake, compared to those who play the normal game types.

Zombie mode has also been beefed up for Black Ops II, with completely new maps and two new modes. The classic survival mode has remains, with the addition of “Tranzit” and “Grief” modes. In Tranzit, players have a large world to roam around in, and can transport themselves via a robot-driven bus. Every play through still ends with player death, but the Tranzit world is so large and there are so many things to do and manipulate, that it almost feels like a zombies campaign.

Grief mode pits a 4-player team vs. another four-player team vs. the zombies. The two player controlled teams cannot kill each other, but they can do things like throw meat to attract zombies to a certain location. Grief mode is an innovative twist and rewards strategy, since the objectives are to kill zombies, defend your team and attempt to make the zombies kill the other team.

In survival mode, there are new maps and more options for game customization. Now players can start in whatever round they please, or do things like make the game headshot only. This is not available in Tranzit, and it kind of makes survival mode seem like an arcade classic.

Overall, Black Ops II is still one of the best first person shooters on the market. The addictive new multiplayer features and partly futuristic campaign will pleasantly surprise fans that were expecting a dud after being disappointed at the original Black Ops. However, the multiplayer maps feel a little bit lacking in comparison to the highly revered Modern Warfare maps, and the campaign seems a little bit short. This is made up for by the highly addicting new zombie modes, which can be played a multitude of times without getting boring.