I can’t help but, for the most part, feel ripped off every time a new Call of Duty title is released. It seems as though, after World at War, the series took a downturn and each title has gotten progressively worse. Is Black Ops II worse than Modern Warfare 3? Honestly, it seems about the same gameplay-wise, but due to some new mechanics, it definitely has the edge over its predecessor.
Perhaps the largest addition to this iteration of COD is the “Pick 10” system. In the past, your load out of weapons and perks consisted of a primary weapon, secondary weapon, grenade, tactical grenade and one each of 3 different perk types. BO2 takes that old system and completely throws it out the window. With the Pick 10 system, you are allotted 10 slots to put whatever you wish into your load out. For example, here’s my main load out that I use:
Primary Weapon: AN-94 Attachments: Target Finder, Fore-Grip, Silencer Perk 1: Blind Eye Perk 2: Cold-blooded Perk 3: Engineer, Dead-silence Wildcards: Perk 3 greed, Primary Gunner
Notice that in my load out I have a total of 10 items. Since I normally don’t use grenades of any type, I sacrificed those to give myself more options on my perks and primary weapon. I also got rid of my secondary weapon to free up one of my 10 slots. This is by far the best equipment system that COD has ever used. It is also the only good thing I can say about the game.
The 4 companies involved in the production of COD (Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Sledge Hammer, Activision) understand marketing and their fanbase extremely well, so they know that whatever they release, people are going to buy it. I’ve fallen victim to this on multiple occasions (MW2-BO2. That’s 4 games). I always hope that the franchise will either return to the glory days of COD4 and W@W or simply improve, but I continuously get burned. Because people keep buying the crap heaps that Activison shovel to them on a yearly basis, they refuse to innovate. Couple that with the fact that the games have been running on the exact same game engine for the past 5 years and you’ve got nothing but pure mediocrity.
These companies seem to have lost sight of what made them great in the first place (kind of like Square-Enix with Final Fantasy). What I’ll do here is show you COD’s lack of progression since COD4 in 2007. Ready? Here we go.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – Infinity Ward Weapons: Well, duh. All “modern weapons.” M16s and the like. Each load out would consist of a primary and secondary weapon. The primary weapon could be equipped with 1 attachment such as a red-dot sight, or a silencer. Secondary weapons consisted of pistols and rocket launchers. Perks: COD4 was the first game to introduce the perk system. The player used 3 different types of perks that increased his/her abilities in some way. Only one per type could be equipped. Kill Streaks: 3 types. 3 kills=UAV, 5 kills=Airstrike, 7 kills=Helicopter Maps: Various sizes, all fairly balanced. Online play: Extremely good. Sure, there was lag, but it was nothing like what the series would eventually encounter.
Call of Duty: World at War - Treyarch Weapons: Same as COD4, only WWII based. Perks: Same as COD4, but with slightly different names assigned to certain perks. Kill Streaks: 3 Kills=UAV (Recon Plane), 5 Kills=Mortar strike, 7 Kills=Attack Dogs Maps: I may be biased to this game in particular since it’s my favorite, but in my opinion, W@W had the best maps of the entire series. And some of the largest. Having large maps meant that sniping could be somewhat useful. Online play: Extremely good depending on what gametype one played. The Hardcore game modes were the most balanced. Core modes were a bit imbalanced and could be extremely frustrating due to hit detection and lag compensation issues.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Here’s where things start to go south) – Infinity Ward Weapons: Unlike the previous 2 games, MW2 allowed the player to put more than one attachment on their weapon by using a certain perk. Perks: More perks were present this time around. Still used the 3 type system. Kill Streaks: Ugh. MW2 allowed the player to create custom kill streak load outs. Rather than use the simple 3, 5 and 7 method, player would have the option for how many kills they would have to get before earning a kill streak. By using a certain perk, the player could even set it to get his streak reward one kill earlier. MW2 also introduced the care package, a kill streak that when earned would send a box from the sky containing a random streak reward. MW2 was very kill streak heavy and this is what started the imbalance trend. Maps: The maps in MW2 were decent, but when having to deal with CONSTANT kill streaks flying around the map, the level of fun and actual skill involved was significantly decreased. Online play: Due to the above mentioned imbalances, online play was far too hectic and resulted in a lot of frustration for players (myself included) used to the 2 previous games.
Call of Duty: Black Ops - Treyarch Weapons: Same as MW2 Perks: Same as MW2 Kill Streaks: Same as MW2 (noticing a trend here?) Maps: Far too small. Few large maps. Most were medium to small sized. Online play: Same as MW2, but with a little less emphasis on kill streaks.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Infinity Ward/Sledge Hammer Weapons: Same as MW2 and BO. Perks: Same as MW2 and BO. Kill Streaks: Same as MW2 and BO. (Yup. There’s a trend, for sure.) Maps: No large maps. All medium to small. Online play: Same as MW2 and BO. Game, as a whole, seems as though it’s just a map pack for MW2.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II - Treyarch Weapons: New pick 10 system. Great addition. Perks: Mostly new perks. Kill Streaks: Same as MW2, MW3 and BO, only instead of earning streaks by kills, one now earns them from game score. Maps: Same as MW3. Online play: Same as MW2, MW3 and BO on the lag level. The kill streaks are toned down significantly from the last 3 games because of being harder to earn.
What I’m basically trying to get at here, is that Activision basically keeps giving players the same game year after year with small updates. The same can be said for most EA sports games. Is Madden ’11 that much different than Madden ’12? No. There are a few extra modes and options, but the game is basically the same thing people have been playing for years. I’m all for the “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, but the additions COD has received over the years have done nothing but make the game increasingly worse. Will COD ever get better? Not, unless the game buying public stops buying the games year after year.
In closing: Is Call of Duty: Black Ops II worth the $65 price tag? Absolutely not. Don’t believe the hype, people. Places like IGN are paid extremely well to review huge selling titles favorably (I believe it got over a 9.0 on there). My advice is to steer clear of this one. Trust me, unless you feel like paying $65 for some new, mediocre, maps and a new equipment system, you’ve already played this game… 3 times before.
Final score: 3/10