Call of Duty: Black Ops II Reviews

  • ngratzngratz37,046
    09 Jan 2013 08 Feb 2013
    32 8 17
    Remember, if you give a thumbs down, please leave a comment with why. I can't improve my reviews if I don't understand why you didn't like it.


    Whether you love it or hate it, there has been a new Call of Duty title every year since 2005. With Infinity Ward revolutionizing the series with Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare and Treyarch creating zombies and their own gaming experience with their titles, I know I was excited for Treyarch's latest production since Infinity Ward let me down last year with Modern Warfare 3. Would Treyarch do the same or bounce back with a better title than their counterpart?

    The game is split into 3 parts (Campaign, Zombies, and Multiplayer) and we'll take a look at each section.

    Campaign
    This game's campaign follows two story lines. The first continues where Black Ops left off with Frank Woods and Alex Mason as the Cold War continues into the 80s. The second story follows Alex's son David Mason in the year 2025. Both stories interlock with the same main villain and the jump back and forth between the two is easy to follow. The plot plays out like most Call of Duty games, with a few twists sprinkled in to keep it lively.

    I was happy to see some new Campaign features from Treyarch. Decision making, customizable loadout and Strike Force missions make an appearance in the story mode adding to the variety. My favorite addition to campaign is that they added a non-linear story line. Yes that's right, you make decisions Black Ops 2 which impact the outcome of the ending. There are 4 different endings which definitely helps the replay value of the game. A minor addition Treyarch made was custom loadouts. At the beginning of each mission you can choose which guns, equipment and perks you want to use. While this is not a make or break feature it is nice to choose guns you like to use. The third new feature put in place for the campaign was Strike Force missions. These are side missions where you control several units tactically or one at a time to hold or take an objective. This was a feature that I was originally excited about but quickly became frustrated with. I play on Hardened and the friendly A/I was not very helpful or intelligent at all. I failed missions a LOT and had to take over control of the units many times just to give them simple directions. I ended up finishing the game on Hardened but played back through on a lower difficulty just to be able to complete the Strike Force missions as they do impact your final game story. I see potential for these types of missions being in future games, but they just missed the target with them on this game.

    Overall the Campaign plot is pretty decent (you definitely don't have to have played the previous one to pick this game up) and the new features are decent. Basically what we've come to expect out of a Call of Duty campaign and then some. While some of the new features work and some don't overall Campaign is pretty good and has replayability.

    Campaign Score: 8/10


    Zombies

    Undoubtedly a major reason a lot of people pick up Treyarch's Call of Duty games is the Zombie mode they've come to be known for. Fighting off wave after wave of zombies is pretty addicting. How'd they do this game with their initial zombie maps? Very well in my opinion.

    Treyarch introduced two new zombie game modes to Black Ops 2: Tranzit and Grief. Tranzit is a game mode which combines 5 smaller maps into one big map with items to build to help you advance, a bus to help you travel from location to location (that is, if you're scared of the fog and lava) and even certain items/things to do that carry over from game to game (I won't spoil the surprise I promise). 3 of the 5 maps can also be played in the more traditional survival mode with varying degrees of perks and wall guns to grab. 2 of these maps can also be played in the new Grief mode which pits 2 teams against each other on one survival map to see who can last the longest.

    What to make of these new modes? Tranzit gets a big plus from me while Grief mode is just ok. Tranzit introduces map travel and new build-able items which just adds to the "I've made it this far, now what" feel you can get from going to round 20+ again and again and again. Grief mode on the otherhand is very busy. Keep in mind these maps individually are much smaller than previous zombie maps, because they go together in Tranzit to make a pretty big map. So when you have 8 people running around dodging lava (and yes there is plenty of lava) in a small-ish place it gets kinda crazy.

    Zombie mode also comes with a new ranking system to show your zombie skills (though if anyone has figured it out yet I'd be glad to know how the darn thing works) as well as an in depth leaderboard for every zombie stat imaginable.

    Overall I cannot wait to see (hopefully) more Tranzit modes come out with the Map Pack DLCs later this year. I believe Tranzit adds that next level to survival mode and will be the future of zombies for Call of Duty. I'm glad to see Treyarch keeping it fresh and interesting, expanding on an already good formula for zombie fans.

    Zombie Score:10/10


    Multiplayer
    This is what most people who play Call of Duty come for. Multiplayer. Whether team death match, tactical game modes, or just fun party games are your thing, Multiplayer has something for everyone. Treyarch has revamped a few things for their newest game's multiplayer mode as well as added in the new League Play mode.

    Treyarch brings back most game modes and even adds Kill Confirmed from MW3, as well as their own new game Hardpoint (a speedier twist on Headquarters). Their hardcore game modes are limited though so as a fan of Hardcore playstyle I found this a bit disappointing. Create-a-Class was changed up a little bit compared to all previous games. There is now a pick 10 menu where you choose guns, attachments and perks a-la-carte, rather than having to choose one of everything. What enables you to do this? The new wildcard system which, when implemented could let you have 2 Perk 1 options and no perk 2. Don't use lethal or tactical grenades? Get rid of them for something you could find more beneficial. This definitely gives people with different playstyles some options instead of boxing them in.

    Also added was the new League Play mode, which ranks you on your true game skill (rather than the cumulative experience you earn during regular public matches). There are currently 3 leagues to choose from: Moshpit series (objective based games) Championship series (form a clan for 4v4 objective battles which rank you and your clan) and Team Deathmatch series (exactly what it sounds like). League play is based on a 30 day season where you play placement matches to get started then play against similarly ranked opponents and move up and down the ladder based on how you and your team does. I really enjoy this game mode as you still earn experience towards ranking up, but it plays in a more competitive game style, with ladders rankings and leaderboards. The one thing I have noticed is that I do not play a lot of people close to my ranking. This is probably due to the fact that not very many people play league play, so at this point it's basically a take what you can get kind of scenario. I would love it if more people got into league and it truly became the super competitive skill based game mode Treyarch intended it to be.

    Treyarch changed up Killstreaks to Scorestreaks where you get points towards your extra equipment not only for killing people, but also for assists, capturing objectives in objective based game modes, as well as many other score building ways. I like this because it encourages players in objective based games to not to just sit back and wait for kills, but to go for the obectives to get some score for your scorestreak.

    Treyarch brings back Combat Training for newer players or players that want to train up before jumping in with tons of players. It gives you half real players and half computer players to play with and against to get in some training. Beneficial if you don't know that much about Call of Duty.

    We also see a return of Wager Matches from the original Black Ops. Although Black Ops 2 does not include a money system like the original, Treyarch kept the game types (Gun Game, Sharpshooter, Sticks and Stones and One in the Chamber) in their Party Games mode. The weapons used here do count for xp as well as gun unlock challenges (providing you have purchased the guns/attachments). I'm glad to see these return despite no currency since they can be a just for fun match with your friends if the rest of multiplayer gets frustrating, as it does from time to time.

    The maps are overall pretty good. Well balanced maps (with the exception of Carrier) that play pretty well.

    The last thing to mention about multiplayer is a big negative for a lot of players: lag and respawns. I have been lucky and haven't experienced a whole lot of this but Black Ops 2's lag compensation system really seems to be poor. There are plenty of videos highlighting the problem, and hopefully Treyarch is fixing the issue. Respawn sites do not seem to be completey great with some enemies spawning on players (who aren't even spawn camping). I know this has happened to me on many occasions although it does seem to be better than when the game launched.

    Overall a few changes and the introduction of league play make Call of Duty multiplayer what you thought it would be. The lag is a huge detractor for a lot of players but these issues should be addressed by Treyarch

    Multiplayer Score: 8/10


    DLC (with updates as more comes out)

    Original DLC
    Nuketown 2025
    If you preordered the game you got the Nuketown map, same map as original Black Ops, but with an updated futuristic look. Originally this map was in a Nuketown 24/7 playlist by itself but after a week was taken away. After outrage from the community, it was brought back in a small map playlist. While it's not the same as the advertised get Nuketown 24/7 when you preorder, it is better than not having the map at all.

    Nuketown Zombies
    If you bought the Black Ops 2 Hardened edition, or if you purchased the Season Pass, you get the Nuketown 2025 zombie map. A survival map separate from Tranzit mode, this map happens after the Moon map from Black Ops. A nuclear explosion has hit Nuketown and perks rain down from the sky. Nuketown is a wasteland with waves of zombies coming after you. A good balanced survival map with a few new guns.


    Final Thoughts
    This is another Call of Duty game. If you like Call of Duty you will enjoy it. If the franchise is not your thing, don't waste your time or money. Personally I enjoy it and the few new things they have brought into the game are mostly positives. I look forward to the DLCs coming later this year and what they have to offer. Solid addition to the series, lag hinders the multiplayer for many.

    8.5/10
    4.0
  • TrimSkinkTrimSkink490,827
    18 Oct 2014
    9 3 0
    Sorry about my short review, but I'd rather a five-paragraph synopsis rather than a novel, so here's a quick summary.

    With a game like CoD: Black Ops, it's hard to make a follow-up which packs a punch like the original. I believe that BO2 has successfully attained this. This game is not only fun, exciting and gripping, but Treyarch has really impressed me with this latest installment.

    First of all, The campaign had big names, great twists and interior missions, as well as some more useless collectibles. Even after the fifth or sixth playthrough, I found I still enjoyed the missions and rarely skipped the cutscenes. I sincerely can't believe how enjoyable the story was, with twists, additional weapons and perks, unavailable in other parts of the game, giving it a unique spin. The achievements were a bit tricky at times, notably, completing all missions in every level, but all of the achievements were quite rewarding and only a few required second or third plays. Incredible story, great actors and my favourite ending credits in ANY game I've played.

    Second, the multiplayer was quite monotonous, following in the paths of the previous CoD clones, with a few minor changes. I personally didn't spend much time in here, but matchmaking was good, gameplay is fair and leveling didn't take that long. I'm not the best person to talk to about PvP, but this game was enjoyable even if you're not amazing at it. The maps were great, tons of guns to choose from and quick matchmaking all add to the experience.

    Next, the zombies were challenging and exciting with all sorts of extras. To be able to beat these maps meant that you knew the entire level, knew your stuff, and helped out others. This was a wonderful coop addition to this game. Though, in my opinion, they weren't as good as the first zombies, they were new and elaborate, and definitely full of difficulties.

    Finally, Black Ops 2 was a great game, with various new spins on old ideas. Enjoyable even if this is your first CoD, but a real treat for those returning. Great game with plenty of high-hopes for the future of this franchise. Thanks so much for reading and I hope this helped with your decision to play or not.
    4.5
  • Darth ReillyDarth Reilly261,512
    08 Dec 2015
    4 1 0
    The singleplayer campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops II puts players in the shoes of David Mason, son of Alex Mason; the protagonist of the first Black Ops game. The story is primarily set in the year 2025; however players will also play through several flashback missions as characters from the first Black Ops title, set in the 1980s. These missions serve to flesh out the history and motives of several characters in the future, including bad guy Rual Mendez

    The futuristic setting also affects gameplay, allowing for a bit more suspension of disbelief and a few somewhat futuristic weapons and gadgets than previous, more realistic Call of Duty games would typically offer. Personally I prefer an experience more grounded in reality from the franchise.

    When examining the gameplay it's clear that there are a few major overhauls yet again - prior to each mission players can customise their character's loadout from items available in the current time frame. By replaying missions and completing challenges it's possible to expand these options and even to have a bit of fun with taking futuristic weapons back into the 1980s. Other than giving players some control over how they wish to approach each mission the game also offers several optional "Strike Force" missions. These are an interesting hybrid of RTS and FPS, allowing the player to direct units from an overhead point of view and also taking control over any particular unit from a first-person perspective whilst working toward a goal. Success or failure in these missions can have notable effects on the storyline.

    I feel that this is a solid singleplayer experience that shakes its formula up in the right places whilst remaining true to the strengths of the series. Although the story from the first game is stronger.

    Multiplayer:

    In Black Ops II the multiplayer section has seen some significant overhauls. Whilst basic gameplay is immediately recognisable as staple Call of Duty fare many of the supporting systems have been altered. This includes the new "pick ten" method of class creation, wherein players can create a class using any combination of 10 items that they can put together within the boundaries of the class creation page. As usual the unlock system has seen a bit of an update with "Unlock Tokens" now earned upon reaching each new level. Each token can unlock an item of the player's choice (further restricted by the player's level, however) for use in class creation.

    Other multiplayer changes include a fairly robust custom games system which allows for gametype creators to form their own list of banned items, a "League Play" option which separates and matches players by skill, and the brand new "CoD TV" - a powerful way of putting content creation in the hands of the player.

    In the multiplayer there is again a fairly gentle initial learning curve as players can only experiment with a few items initially due to the way the unlock system is structured. However the matchmaking system doesn't appear to be all that great at matching players by either skill or progression rank which can allow for some pretty one-sided matchups. On the other hand it's possible to play in a "Boot Camp" playlist up until level 11, and there is a "training" section which will mix players with AI and have them play on a variety of different game modes. This is a fairly good way to let players adjust to the wider set of multiplayer offerings without "throwing them in at the deep end". The training section also has a deterrent for more advanced players who might be looking for easy games by only offering half as many experience points as the regular playlists.
    On the opposite end of the scale, Treyarch have also included a “League Play” mode in which players can enter either alone or as a team and be ranked amongst their peers. Between a highly replayable singleplayer campaign, a lengthy multiplayer progression system this game is definitely worth a purchase for fans of the FPS genre and you can find if cheap. Overall the first was better and its same old cod. Lots of cheaters online now and treyarch does nothing to fix it. With that said it's fun and cheap because it's been out awhile and there is so much to do with the game you will b playing for hours
    3.5
  • RecentRealityRecentReality224,825
    13 Dec 2012 13 Dec 2012
    21 18 1
    Call of Duty. The name will either send someone screaming into a rage-induced state of mind similar to that of Raul Menendez, or it'll cause someone to jump for joy and will make them say "That's my sh*t!". Whatever category someone falls under when the name of the game shows up, they should expect that it's more or less the same type of affair to expect from a Call of Duty game despite the small changes made to it.

    CAMPAIGN
    The story in Blops 2 takes place in two timelines; one in the years 1986-1989 and another in the year 2025. The player takes control of Alex Mason from the original Blops in the 80's storyline as well as a returning character whom I won't mention here in order to keep the story under wraps. In the 80's storyline, the Cold War is coming to a close and as Alex Mason, the player will fight through various scenarios similar to that in the first Black Ops. While this really isn't a problem, it isn't quite as fresh as the 2025 storyline, but I'll get there in a few.

    Anyways, the story in the 80's is quite...weird. It almost feels as if there is really no storyline there at all. It feels as if it's just one big shoot-'em-up which I have no problem with, but it is something that will get repetitive after awhile. A great positive about the 80's storyline is that it introduces the villain of the game: Raul Menendez. He's an emotionally attachable character that reminds me of Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight, or maybe that's because the writer from The Dark Knight wrote the story for Blops 2? I don't really know. Menendez is alone worth the price of admission to the campaign because he is a truly remarkable villain.

    The player stars as David Mason in the 2025 storyline. David is the son of Alex and, like his father, is an interesting protagonist to play as. In this storyline, Menendez is planning on launching a cyber attack on the US by turning its own drones against it and David's main priority is to stop him at all costs. In the game's future, wars are fought mainly by robots and drones alike. I would assume that if it were real, Skynet would be proud of this game. It was quite fun to get my hands on these little drones to control although there were only a few missions that I could do so. The real bulk of the 2025 storyline are 'Strike Force Missions'. They play out like an RTS would and while that sounds good on paper, it doesn't work out as much as I would have liked it to. Friendly A.I. is dumb and their only purpose is to give you human and robot body shields. There are also choices in the Blops 2 campaign that add a hint of replayability and all lead to four different endings. These Strike Force missions can become frustrating because since the player only has one chance to do each one, the success or the failure of these specific missions can lead to a different outcome that the player may not want. It seemed apparent that I had to complete each Strike mission on my own using a human player since my A.I. squad members and drones were acting as lambs for the slaughter.

    Another cool addition was the use of customizing loadouts before each mission. This is new to the Call of Duty franchise and it was interesting experimenting with different combinations before each mission. Story wise, the 80's missions are a little underwhelming and caused me to feel lost while playing them while the missions in 2025 were fresh and it was interesting to see what kinds of machines were thrown into the game. Raul Menendez was a great addition and was definitely more complex and original than one of those shallow 'take over the world' type of villains, although he did try to become one himself. Strike Force missions are frustrating and would have worked if the friendly A.I. were at their full advantage. The game also takes roughly 4-7 hours to beat depending on the difficulty but adds on replayability with different endings, choices, and new challenges to complete in every mission. Overall, I found the campaign to be interesting and fresh at times, save for the terrible A.I. and a sometimes confusing narrative.

    ZOMBIES
    The Zombies mode is one of the main reasons that I picked up Black Ops 2 in the first place. Blops 2 Zombies is a bit different this time around due to it having two new game modes. There's the standard 'Survival' mode, in which the player (along with 1-3 others) fights off hordes of the undead. The problem with this mode is that it is the same as it has always been. While some zombie die-hard fans may enjoy the return of this mode, it's the same as it has always been, which really isn't too big of a problem. The first of two new modes is called 'Grief'. Grief is basically a 4v4 Survival match. While players can't necessarily kill each other, they could make it so that if an enemy player is being revived, they could interfere with the reviving player so that they don't revive who they're reviving, as confusing as that sounds. Players can also use pieces of meat to attract the zombies like they're hungry dogs. It's an interesting concept but is in my opinion nowhere near as great as the second new mode.

    'TranZit' places four characters at a bus stop and gives them the opportunity to discover new things on their own. It's not necessarily a sandbox type of mode, but it expands on the zombies mythology. The basic conception of this game mode is that a bus carries the four players throughout the map stopping at a total of five bus stops and the time that the bus driver waits for the players varies. I sometimes found him waiting for myself and other players for upwards of five minutes while other times he would only wait for 30 seconds. I suppose that this was intended to keep players on their toes, but it can become frustrating. The four characters include three males and a female. Of the four, I found the woman to be incredibly obnoxious as well as the nerdy looking guy. I don't know if I'm the only one that has a problem with their voice actors, but I wanted to mute my television whenever they would start talking. There are workbenches scattered throughout the map that, if the player finds all the right parts, can make a trap, a weapon, or anything of the sort. While the different contraptions are limited, this is a cool addition that gives players the ability to experiment with what they have.

    Then there's the fire. The fire cracks that appear throughout the map can tend to become frequently annoying. They force players to jump over them in order to maneuver around them, but I found that even if I jumped over them that I would still be burned. While this didn't bother me after I cleared a wave of zombies, it would frustrate me to high levels when being chased by a conga line full of zombies. There are also 'denizens of the forest' that latch onto the player and attack them if they manage to walk into the fog scattered throughout the map, which is easy to do. While these Gollum-looking creatures aren't that bad (all it takes is a few knife strikes to kill them once they latch on), if the player accidentally falls off the bus while traveling in-between locations, then they are most certainly screwed and will have to fight their way out of the fog and the denizens. Overall, zombies is as fun as ever despite Grief and Survival not being anything too innovative or replayable. TranZit is my favorite mode of the three and is still fun even after playing it multiple times. I just wish that I could say the same for the other two.

    MULTIPLAYER
    This is the mode that will either make a player or break a player. Reviewing multiplayer is like walking on eggshells, so here goes. Multiplayer is...how should I say it...mostly the same. There are some changes, sure, but it feels like a regular Call of Duty game with some interesting positives and some maddening negatives.

    Create-A-Class is redefined in Blops 2 with the introduction of the 'Pick 10' system. The player is given 10 points that they can use in order to pick a weapon, an attachment, a lethal equipment, perk, etc. Each one of those takes up a point and this new system leads to many different variations for players to use. Say someone wants to be a perk lover and use only perks; they could do that and will only be given a knife to use as a weapon. Don't need tacticals, lethals, or secondaries? Take them off. This new addition gave me a feeling that my own choices for each one of my classes was personal and I was never forced into using something I did not want to use. There are also 'rule breakers' that are called 'wildcards'. With wildcards, the player is able to choose a thing that lets them choose a secondary first tier perk, an extra lethal, three weapon attachments, and so on and so forth. Wildcards were probably my favorite thing about Pick 10 and I always found myself using one in order to give myself an extra perk or an extra attachment for my gun.

    Combat Training is back from the first Black Ops and is better than ever. Enemy and friendly A.I. are nowhere near as idiotic as they used to be and they shoot down killstreaks and are more challenging to face, which is a welcome plus. Instead of the typical TDM and Free-For-All that were in Blops 1 Combat Training, Treyarch has added in objective based game modes as well and the 'bots' go for objectives and defend them with their lives. Like I said previously, multiplayer is the same that it's always been. There are the game modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination, Free-For-All, Kill Confirmed, Search, CTF, and many others. I always found the bulk of players to be on TDM and Domination, and those two modes are what I played the most. I won't go into details about teammates, lag (although it is terrible at times), or anything of the sort since those are all variables that really don't matter right now and can be fixed with future patches.

    The guns in Blops 2 are balanced for the most part although it is quite obvious that Sub Machine Guns, Shotguns, and Snipers are the kings here and it seemed apparent that nearly everyone that I encountered were using them. Killstreaks are back and are in the form of 'Scorestreaks' which try to give the player the incentive to go for objectives instead of kills. Some of the Scorestreaks are tough to get and it takes a lot of work to get to them unless the player does the objective. While playing, I found the game to be boring and more or less of the same that it's always been. Sure the Pick 10 system and Combat Training are interesting and fun, but those two alone don't overshadow the shallowness of what is multiplayer on a whole.

    MY DECISION
    Overall, Black Ops 2 is a sometimes interesting addition to the Call of Duty saga. The series is starting to show its wear and tear now and with the release of a new game in the saga every single year, it won't be long before Call of Duty becomes a thing of the past. Blops 2 is home to a great campaign with an awesome villain and interesting zombies mode but is watered down by a lackluster multiplayer. Love it or hate it, it looks like Call of Duty has finally come to a close...until next year.
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    3.0