When I had eyes-on time with Call of Duty: Black Ops II
's campaign at E3 in June, I wasn't too impressed. It all looked a bit samey - gunfire, explosions, people yelling and swearing - and frankly it gets a bit tiresome to play the same game over and over again. I may have to revise my position a little, however, after seeing Call of Duty: Black Ops II
's multiplayer last week at the EB Expo in Sydney.
Black Ops II
moves away from the wars we know and have visited and into a near-future scenario. As such, there are familiar guns and technologies, but there's also new tech incorporated into both campaign and multiplayer. For example, a device called a data glove is capable of calling in a group of drones, and also appears to help users scale cliff faces. In multiplayer, the data glove is used to call in 'scorestreaks'.
Scorestreaks are pretty self-explanatory: they're basically like the killstreaks of old, but you earn them based on your score rather than your kill count. In objective game types, you can gain additional points toward your scorestreak by capturing locations or fending off would-be attackers, on top of the points you get for taking out enemy soldiers.
The biggest change in multiplayer comes before you start your game, however, at the 'Create a Class' screen. Rather than having a set of mandatory weapons - primary weapon, secondary weapon, grenade, perk - you instead have ten points to spend on whatever you want. You could spend the points unlocking the ability to have extra perks to make your character faster and more resistant to damage, then just have him run around with a knife and no guns.
These extras are made possible because of 'wildcards'. You'll need to spend one of your ten points to use a wildcard, but they're what gives you the ability to add extras to your loadout. The 'greed' wildcards let you add a third attachment to your primary weapon, for example, or select an extra perk.
We played Team Deathmatch, new game mode Hardpoint,and Domination, on two wildly different maps. Those who've played previous Call of Duty
games will be familiar with Domination, and those who've played Halo
will be familiar with Hardpoint, which is basically the 'Crazy King' game type. There's one territory on the map to be contested and captured by soldiers, and that territory moves around during the game. Whichever team spends the most time in the territory earns the most points and wins the match.
The Hardpoint game mode played to the strengths of a relatively small map based in Singapore, called Cargo. It's based in a shipping yard and designed for close-quarters combat amongst all the shipping containers. It's often a case of first in-first served, as it can be very difficult to capture a hardpoint once an enemy team has bunkered in. One hardpoint, on the second level of a building to one side of the map, is particularly hard to take without plenty of grenades and some serious teamwork.
When you're playing hardpoint, you can get extra points toward your scorestreak by defending your territory, or by taking out people who are defending theirs.
Domination, on the other hand, was showcased by a map called Turbine. Turbine is much larger, much dustier map than Cargo, and it has a crashed plane as the centrepiece. In Domination, you have to capture three different points on the map. When you hold one of those points, your team scores, so it's best to have at least two of the three at all times to ensure victory.
The catch is that on Turbine, one of the points you have to capture is placed in part of the crashed plane. That means you're in a small, enclosed space, but no matter which way someone enters the turbine, you're directly in their line of sight while trying to capture the point. In short, you're going to get grenaded and shot to pieces almost every time. Unless you're really awesome, say goodbye to your great kill/death ratio. That point is very, very hard to get back once you lose it to the enemy team.
The only problem I had with Turbine, as a map, was that it's still built on an engine that's getting quite old now. Turbine is big and pretty looking, and could have looked glorious on an entirely new engine with beautiful new graphics. Treyarch has opted to just update the old engine for multiplayer, which makes sense given that a new console generation is on the horizon, but it's a disappointment for fans.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to try out zombies mode this time around. It's a shame: quite a few changes have been announced, including a campaign called Tranzit. Fan favourite map Nuketown will be making yet another return in zombies, too.
Black Ops II
still features the Call of Duty
multiplayer experience you've known for years now, but the tweaks and changes Treyarch has introduced might keep it fresh for big fans of the franchise. Between the revamped loadout system, wildcards, new maps, and new game types, there's plenty that's new here to play with. Whether the campaign offers anything new, however, is yet to be seen.