It’s mid-to-late November yet again, and by now you should know what that means: a new “Call of Duty” is afoot. This year, Treyarch gets another stab at this generation-defining series after having worked on the original “Black Ops.” With “Black Ops 2,” the developers attempt to bring something new to the military shooter landscape, while keeping that fast paced “CoD” action. Spoiler: They succeeded conclusively.
This blurb is going to focus exclusively on multiplayer, seeing as I haven’t touched the campaign or zombies yet. And be honest with yourself. That’s what you’re going to be playing for 95% of your time with “Black Ops 2” anyway, right?
The defining characteristics of “Black Ops 2’s” multiplayer are customization and expansive content. There is more to unlock and experience here than any other “Call of Duty” to date. I browsed the menus after I unlocked the ability to create a class, drooling as the game tantalized me with the names of various weapons, attachments and perks. Treyarch perfectly captured both the joy of leveling up and that incessant drive to keep going.
It’s not just about unlocking anymore. It’s about trying out new gear and customizing what works. It’s a wonderful game of trial and error, and there’s enough new gadgetry to cast an air of mystery over many of the unlockables. You’re going to want to see what everything does, and if it’s right for your playstyle. The new customization system lends itself nicely to this notion.
The game gives you 10 total free slots for your inventory. These slots can be filled with two weapons, lethal and nonlethal grenades, attachments, and perks. From there, you can build a loadout that is perfect for you. If you want to load up on perks and completely forgo carrying guns, you can do that. You’ll only have a knife, but the choice is there. Personally, I never use equipment or grenades. I’m loyal to my scope and trigger. Thanks to “Black Ops 2,” I don’t have to carry them any more, and I can fill those slots with additional perks. The system is filled with variables that can completely change your play style.
Killstreaks are back, of course, and this time they come with a twist. Rather than being streaks that are earned based on kills alone, each streak has a point total that has to be earned to acquire it. This means that anything you do that scores points, like kills, assists, or confirming kills, goes toward earning your killstreaks. How this is only being put into place now is beyond me. I have friends that exclusively use the riot shield, which earns plenty of assists. People that share that play style should be rewarded, and now they are.
Killstreaks have been updated, so don’t expect to see the same, tired friendly Hind or stealth bomber. You have a lot more to choose from.
Coming from “Halo 4,” which had a hardly staggering five-map rotation in 4v4 multiplayer, “Black Ops 2” is a tall drink of water with a hefty selection of maps. Even after my first couple hours of playing, I was still getting thrown into new maps, which is a good thing. Better yet, each map is detailed with intricate structures and buildings, while keeping aesthetic details like backgrounds and surroundings. These are what multiplayer maps should be like. Treyarch nailed it.
Gameplay is the same, silky-smooth action we’ve grown accustomed with the “CoD” franchise, complete with 60-frames-per-second graphics.
I want to resist the urge to go into details about strategy of guns, attachments and perks. Perhaps a strategy guide would better serve as its own post. This is simply pointing out that “Black Ops 2” is more than a small step forward for the series. Treyarch has made genuine strides, making this a unique FPS experience. It has the quick, violent action of the “Call of Duties” before it, but adds a near perfect level structure. It's one of the most addictive multiplayer experiences around, rivaled only by MMOs. If you were getting sick of “Call of Duty,” I suggest you pick it back up, but with caution. You’re likely to fall in love all over again.
9.5 out of 10
Ultra addictive gameplay
Silky 60 FPS
Plenty of maps
New loadout system is perfection
Players start with no gear
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