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Despite two teams, the Call of Duty series has been widely criticised for taking few risks and incredibly incremental updates that barely move the series on. Has the juggernaut turned this year?

Posted by Staff on Dec 3, 2012 15:18 (Dec 3, 2012 15:18)

Written by: Ian
Teeny Bloppers?
Despite two teams, the Call of Duty series has been widely criticised over the last few instalments for taking few risks and providing incredibly incremental updates that barely move the series on. Has the juggernaut turned this year? Activision have a long and sordid history of exhausting franchises, and gamers and critics alike have been grumbling in ever-increasing numbers about Call of Duty going the same way as Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk, despite the bigger and bigger numbers the series has been doing each year.
Each game arrives with a promise of a host of new features, this year included, and whilst previous games have failed to really shake up the core experience, can Treyarch make CoD seem fresh without alienating or burning out the audience?
There are some really interesting parts to the way Treyarch have moved on the Call of Duty plotlines- there are now decisions to be made. They don’t actually affect the missions you play, but do affects the cut-scenes and the endings you get. Given the linearity of CoD games in the past, even this is pretty revolutionary. Also, the fact that many of the choices are just based on your performance, as opposed to stark moral choices at the touch of a button genuinely impressed me. Having said that, this is still very much a modern military shooter, with jargon aplenty, a dodgy bad guy, and you playing as a mix of Woods and Mason from the first Black Ops and their respective kids. Given the innovation in the way the story plays out, it would have been good to see Treyarch take more actual risks with the plotline.
Call Of Duty Black Ops 2 screenshot #1
And for all of the little innovations, it’s the gameplay, or at least the core of it, that remains the least changed. The majority of the story missions are very linear affairs, where you shoot guys in corridors and similar locations across the globe, with some crazy action sequences filling it out.
This year though, the action sequences didn’t exactly get my juices going. The wingsuit part is basically a 2 minute section where you try not to crash, the Humvee chase feels very uncomfortably like 50 Cent Blood on the Sand, complete with big-ass ramps and ridiculous boost sections, and the VTOL jet section just feels more like a cut-scene. The shooting is exactly the same as you would expect, including some areas with clearly endlessly respawning enemies, something I thought the series had finally abandoned a couple of entries ago. As ever, there is some inconsistency in the level checkpointing, and I even found one that glitched on me into such an impossible situation I was forced to restart the whole level, which was pretty poor really.
Call Of Duty Black Ops 2 screenshot #2
Whilst the core of the missions haven’t changed though, there are some little extras which do make for a nice change. You can now customise your loadout for missions, occasionally you get to choose whether to go left/ right, or provide cover/ go in hot etc. And most interestingly, there are some optional missions which can a) affect the storyline, and b) play more like a RTS if you want them to, as you get control over a number of squads. Unfortunately, on Veteran, these are basically impossible, which is a real shame. With an acceptable difficulty level, they would have made a nice addition to the campaign, but going back to complete them after the main campaign just felt a bit weird.
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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Xbox 360

  • Release:
    US: November 13, 2012
    EU: November 13, 2012
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