Have you played the last five, current generation Call of Duty games? Then you know exactly how Black Ops 2 plays. Its single player campaign is, at best, passable, and the Strike Force missions are both out of place and obnoxious.
Do you know why I rarely talk about the multiplayer portions of the games I critique? One, I’d rather not be endlessly berated by 12-year-olds who’ve recently – and quite gleefully – learned the ‘F’ and ‘N’ words. Two, I am of the opinion that a game has to be able to stand on its single player experience alone. There are far too many extenuating circumstances that might prevent one from playing with friends or online. For these reasons, critiquing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is extremely difficult, because its single player campaign is, at best, passable. The world is on the brink of war, and you play a chiseled, battle hardened soldier, fighting a charismatic, yet brutal terrorist, intent on annihilating western civilization. Along the way you are doubled crossed by those you thought you could trust, discover secrets about the shadowy government organization for whom you work, and blah, blah, blah; you’ve heard it all before. Black Ops 2 does its level best to shake things up a bit. Throughout the game there are certain choices you have to make which can affect the game’s ending, and other actions can have tertiary effects on various characters. For example, while driving a jeep you have to avoid a blast of fire. If you don’t your passenger and fellow soldier is permanently scarred by the flame. Its a cute addition to the campaign, but ultimately inconsequential since it doesn’t affect core gameplay. Have you played the last five, current generation Call of Duty games? Then you know exactly how Black Ops 2 plays. You choose from a load-out of various assault rifles, light and sub machine-guns, shotguns, pistols, grenades, and rocket launchers, are placed at the beginning of a level, and are told to fight your way to the end of said level. Most of the weapons are either interchangeable, or inadequate compared to a weapon of similar type. Sure, the MK-48 light machine-gun has a huge clip, but but by the time you get done reloading it, you’ll find nothing but a hail of bullets and a cool breeze where your brain used to be located. Enemy AI is just plain boring, no matter how you look at it. Regular foot-soldiers are little more than fodder, enemy drones are obnoxious bullet sponges, and every encounter demands that your character be the one that constantly pushes forward. This is a problem in general with the Call of Duty series. You’re not allowed to hang back and clear an area at range if you want, because enemies will endlessly appear until you reach a certain arbitrary point that ends their spawning subroutine. The new “Strike Force” single player missions have even greater problems with artificial intelligence; only this time on your allies part. You take control of an entire squad of soldiers, and are told to complete certain objectives. Your units can be controlled as one might in a real time strategy game, or you can take direct control of them with a press of a button. Unfortunately, without strict micromanagement, your soldiers act as though they’ve recently received a frontal lobotomy. Units will stand ramrod still outside of cover as
they’re gunned down, and reinforcements stay at their spawn points unless specifically ordered to join the battle. What’s particularly egregious about these Strike Force missions is their effect on the story. Unless you finish all of them successfully, you are unable to unlock the game’s “good” ending. Furthermore, you have limited chances to retry said missions, unless you restart the entire campaign. Next year they’re probably going to release something like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4, and the year after that Black
Ops 3, and maybe they’ll really shake things up in 2015 and release Call of Duty: Future Warfare! I’d like to hope that people will eventually get tired of this substandard shooter series, and demand something new. But every year people still buy the new Madden, and the new Mario, and the new Zelda, and the new World of Warcraft expansion, and the new…