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.
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.
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.
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.
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.