If you're a Call of Duty fan, then you know what to expect with each yearly release. These games have always provided a fun experience, as I think the success comes from how quick you can jump into an online match, and how easy it is to pick up the game and play. Now granted, Black Ops 2 is probably the best of the entire bunch, but that's mainly due to the fact of what has been changed with this title. The gameplay itself is nothing new. The last Call of Duty that I have input real time with was Modern Warfare 2, and that's three years old.
No matter what you're told or what you've heard, if you're a fan of the series, you're going to love each and every release. For the fan, this one offers more out of the box and a better experience than in the past. A first to the series is that it supports 3D. It's a neat feature to have, as I grew to like the 3D in this game after my initial impression. The 3D objects in the game look great. Zombies mode is available out of the box this time, and if you're fortunate to get the Nuketown map, you get some initial DLC. What I appreciate is that this isn't already on the disc, and that you actually have to download it separately.
The online modes are robust with a slew of options for game modes. Obviously, Zombie mode is available and remains intact. Survive hordes of zombies by wasting a lot of ammo, trying to buy new guns, and rebuilding openings. Something new needs to be added to this, such as adding bosses every 5 or 10 hordes survived. It really needs a new twist, rather than new maps, to keep it fresh. As for multiplayer modes, there's every type of game you could think of. It really just comes down to your preference. Deathmatches, capture the flag, and point control games dictate the majority. There are also random party games and some modes that will not let you respawn. A hardcore mode also exists which doesn't allow respawning. It doesn't take long to level up initially online, and as you unlock perks, you have to purchase them with tokens. This will add to the strategy as you will personally prioritize perks. There are three initial classes and you can unlock up to six. You can eventually unlock custom classes to set up your personal class to get the best out of everything you have.
The multiplayer IS the reason to play Call of Duty games, and this provides an excellent experience that fans should be familiar with. The Call of Duty games are easy to pick up and jump into, and this game is no exception. As compared to Battlefield or Killzone, the gameplay lacks weight and the pace is fast online so you have to be on your toes. The game's focus is also strictly shooting, and then leveling up to get special weapons like r/c car bombs, bomb drops, and helicopter attacks. I'm not a fan of the sky attacks, as it can cripple what you can do in a match. Fans will be use to this aspect. I also feel like I wish I could drive tanks and vehicles, but the game isn't set up for that because the maps are too small, but however are perfect for the combat it provides.
Graphically, Black Ops 2 sticks out. The game, as usual, runs at 60fps. In single player, you don't miss a beat because of that frame rate. The PS3 version has a much needed HD texture pack to help out (not sure if the 360 version does or not). The campaign looks surprisingly spectacular, as do the cut scenes. Multiplayer, not so much, but i'd prefer a fully functional online experience with above average graphics to the other option.
The campaign in Black Ops 2 is worth your time for the graphics alone. Most people get this game for the multiplayer, but there is a cult following who plays the campaign. The story is actually enjoyable, but the premise of the campaign in this type of game remains the same. Sure, there's some cool gadgets you get to play with, but ultimately you fight off waves of opponents in a test of attrition. There is some stealth involved, but the experience is mainly streamlined.
The sound in the game is great. From the yelling online, to the gun shots, to the explosions, it's excellent. Having said that, I do believe it's still behind the sound detail that went into Battlefield 3. There's so much detail to make you feel like you're part of the war in that game. The soundtrack is perfect, but hearing the monotone announcer online over and over can get pretty annoying. The voice acting is superb and the overall sound in the game is sufficient.
Online runs stellar, and there couldn't be a more easier accessible game. As I mentioned earlier, a ton of game modes are available to play online, and you can use the 3D online. The game runs smooth as I encountered no lag at all on the servers. You pick your game, you jump in with a room of people, the game loads, and you start. There's a lot of games out there that could only dream it would be this easy to access.
I have once again seen pretty insanely high reviews for a Call of Duty game, but I can understand where they are coming from now. Fans of Call of Duty play mainly just that, and they think it's great. It creates it's own benchmark to measure against previous games in the series and not necessarily other games on the market. There's nothing wrong with that, as this game is fun. It's really about running around and earning kills when it comes down to it, so the player can pad their stats. Games like Battlefield require more strategy and take into affect more than just kills. A game like Killzone has other things involved such as being a medic, or building sentry guns, in other words more class-based combat. Call of Duty is just get up and go and if you're really good and put time into the game, you'll get some super weapons as a reward. The game is not broken at all, as it functions perfectly based on what it's attempting to do.
GRAPHICS: 8.5 - The always smooth 60fps and the player models in the campaign are excellent. The multiplayer models bring it down a notch, however.
PRESENTATION: 8 - The menus are easy to navigate as the initial one gives you the main 3 gameplay options. Adding and inviting friends is a breeze, as is setting up your loadouts. I do wish there was a better set up for in-between matches. The HUD in the game is sufficient, but the announcer/narrator gets repetitive.
SOUND: 8 - Excellent sound effects and soundtrack. Still a notch behind Battlefield 3 in terms of effects, but very sufficient.
ONLINE: 10 - You can't help but appreciate how well these servers runs. No lag and a ton of online options for gaming.
GAMEPLAY: 8 - When it comes down to it, it's still Call of Duty. If you like how the game feels at this point, then you'll like this game. There is a lack of weight to running and shooting, but it offers a different experience than its competition.
REPLAY: 9 - If you're a fan of the series, you'll continue to play this for ages. The tons of modes online mixed with a pretty good story mode and Zombie mode out of the box will keep fans busy.
BOTTOM LINE: 8.5 - Black Ops 2 might offer a familiar experience, but Activision doesn't see a point in fixing what is broke. If you're selling a ton of copies and influencing your competition (Resident Evil 6, Killzone 3), you're obviously doing something right. The game is a quick, fun, and addicting experience much like the previous titles.