Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Review

It’s been a while since we last played a Call of Duty game. We have always enjoyed the series, despite burning out on the familiar formula from time to time.  Black ops was the last  Call of Duty we played.  We skipped MW3, giving us just enough time to start feeling the itch to jump back into the frag-box.

Single-Player: A Flare for the Dramatic

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Stealth Camo
The AI loves to wear stealth camo. Too bad my scope can scan for it! Notice I can also see through walls?

Maybe it’s just us, but the single-player story is hard to follow.  Right from the beginning you are thrown into a storyline based off the original Black Ops.  Knowing characters from the original helps a lot, but we still felt lost as the cut-scenes randomly flashed from past to present and back again. The overall futuristic setting of 2025 is definitely cool. Using the future tech was easily the best part of the campaign, but we both feel like the devs were a bit optimistic with where we’ll be at in 13 years — seeing through walls, cloaking, and all that stuff.

The campaign features the usual highly scripted, event filled, story driven gameplay.  You’ll be riding horses while shooting rockets, gliding around with a flying squirrel suit, piloting a jet plane, EMP grenading invisible bad guys, and performing all of the expected awesome, and oft wacky, Call of Duty events.  We never felt like the game made us do the same crazy thing twice.

Read more after the break for our full Black Ops 2 Review.

Strike Force Missions, a new addition to Call of Duty, are quasi-strategy form of gameplay.  The player has an Overwatch mode (top down) to keep track of the squad, but can also choose to take control of a specific unit (first person).  The objectives can be confusing, and even terribly difficult on Veteran mode.  If you want a good ending, though, you kinda have to do them, but you won’t be forced into completing them to finish the campaign.  The campaign itself wasn’t nearly as hard as past CoD’s on the hardest difficulty, but flashy and fun.

Zombies: Takes Brains… MMmm Brains

Zombie mode can be a little bit confusing for newer players.  The goal is to survive, and you really have to take things slow compared to the rest of the game.  In multiplayer you sprint around spraying a SMG, and in single-player you can go nuts as long as you reach a checkpoint.  In Zombies, you die.

We still haven’t put enough time into the zombie modes to really give you a true review, so we’ll write another review later dedicated to these modes.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Scorestreaks
Scorestreaks have replaced Killstreaks. Ideally, players try to earn points instead of just kills.

Multiplayer: Isn’t this why you buy Call of Duty?

We both like the multiplayer.  It feels like every other Call of Duty to us, but that’s why we play.  A lot of people are complaining about lag compensators, head glitchers, host advantage, and some mysterious change that suddenly makes them worse at the game — “I had good K/D in MW3 but I suck at Blops!”  Maybe there’s some meta-mechanic change we don’t know about.

Neither version has a server browser.  PC and Console both use the matchmaking system.  We feel a little deceived by the “dedicated servers” feature really meaning “dedicated matchmaking servers”, but ultimately we play the game to jump in as fast as we can and shoot stuff.  Perhaps the game is better off with matchmaking.

Some multiplayer changes we’ve noticed:

Pick 10 – You have 10 points to spend on your loadout.  A perk, a gun, an attachment, a grenade, are all worth 1 point.  You can spend a lot of points on your main weapon, or spread those points out.  This has created a lot more diversity in what people are using, and in a way balanced the gameplay too.

Changes to Perks – Some of the perks feel odd: Ghost makes you invisible only when moving at full speed, which seems opposite of what it should be.  Overall, perks are far less important than they used to be, and they’re more of a choice.

Scorestreak – Gone are the days of getting 25 kills and nuking everyone.  Now what matters is your score in a single life.  Point thresholds allow you to call UAV’s, Drones, etc.    This encourages players to go for objectives instead of simply fragging each other.  Notice we say encourages, though, because players still just want to frag each other.

Call of Duty Blacks Ops 2 Multiplayer Modes
There’s a multiplayer mode for everyone.

The maps are decent.  No map in particular stands out to us as amazing.  They’re a little bit small, though.  We would have liked to see larger maps instead of mostly smaller ones.  We wish the futuristic feel from single-player carried over a bit more into multiplayer setting in both map and loadout.

There’s definitely no shortage of game modes.  Just about everything you want is there from Hardcore S&D to Core Team Deathmatch.

Overall Impressions: It’s Call of Duty

We both like the single-player, think the multiplayer delivers what we expected, and see value added by the Zombie mode.  If you’re looking for a very polished, true to itself FPS, where you can jump in and frag away for hours, then you can’t go wrong with Black Ops 2.

We give Black Ops II a 4/5 on our review scale.

This Black Ops 2 review was based on the PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game. The Xbox 360 version was provided by the publisher.

  • After playing the multiplayer a few days:

    It is not that balanced is it? It is SMG I see all day long. Shotgun seems fine too, every now and then an AR. Snipers and LMG seem rare? (I usually play LMG in cod games. They do not seem that effective compared to other weapons.)

    Maps: I like the cruise ship lvl. Other then that I could care less about the maps.

    Killstreaks: It is to hard to use most killstreaks. I do not see other players call medium to high killstreaks either. It is UAV, killing drone and care package all the time.

    Perks: Seems most people run a setup not to get detected. Well duh with UAV being used so often and the many gadgets and scopes that give people away.

    While fun the first few days I am already getting bored of BLOPS 2 and I’m only lvl 38 or so.

    What would other players change to make the multiplayer more fun?