Black Ops 2 Review: Same. Sad. Sold? | By Quentin Lau

It would be an understatement to say that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is popular. The annual video game made sales totaling $500 million US in just twenty-four hours after it was released on November 13th. The game broke its own record from the previous year’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, which hauled in $400 million US on opening day. Activision, the game’s producer, claimed that “for the fourth consecutive year, the Call of Duty franchise has delivered the biggest entertainment launch of the year.” The game series is becoming so popular that some commentators have noted that it won’t be long before you see a Call of Duty-themed attraction at Disneyland.

It comes to no surprise that this franchise has become so popular. Since the launch of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in 2007, the mixture of realistic virtual combat and an addictive multiplayer system has bode well for the franchise. However, I am interested in why it is still so popular. Many players have long complained about the linear nature of the series. In other words, what has changed? Seeing that there have been five games prior to the most recent one, one would expect that something has perhaps changed. Nope, nada, negative, negatory, (consult thesaurus for synonyms of “no” and insert here). However, before I divulge into a rant about Black Ops 2, let me present to you some of its “new” features.

Treyarch, the game’s developer, has created a player-driven campaign which involves player’s choice and consequence. Actions that may seem irrelevant may change the entire story for the better or for the worse. So in other words, Skyrim players will love this. (Well, not really. The single-player campaign has also added a feature called “Strike Force,” where it allows the player to enter into a tactical bird’s eye view of the battle and command friendly A.I. and yourself. I found that this feature was useless and confusing, but I suppose it’s “new.”) I found the story in itself to be quite interesting and engaging, but don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you. Overall, I was impressed by the game sound, the relative improvement in graphics and gripping gameplay. The multiplayer aspect of the game, arguably what sells, has changed the “create-a-class” component by introducing “Pick 10.” Basically it allows the player to have more freedom when creating their desired load-out in multiplayer gameplay. A more detailed look at the game can be found here.

So how do I feel? While sales continue to grow and video game review sites have given Black Ops 2 solid scores and acclaimed reviews, I’m not convinced and nor should you be. Although game review sites call Black Ops 2 an evolution of the Call of Duty franchise, I’m calling bullshit. Personally, I have been an avid fan of the series until recently. Modern Warfare 3  was the turning point in my affection for the franchise when I finally realized how lazy the game developers were. It somewhat reminds me of the current NHL lockout; the more it drags on, the less I miss hockey (this is so sad). In the case of the game series, the more it’s the same, the less I enjoy it. The game has literally not changed in years; it follows the exact same formula and it really feels like you’re playing a never-ending expansion pack. In some cases, multiplayer maps are recycled and called the same or different name! Furthermore, the developers focus on the wrong things when they make another game. Although the multiplayer component of the game is what keeps this game selling, it’s the minor issues within it that ruin it. For example, the game is infamous for lag (the delay between an action by a player and the reaction of the game) due to its failure to adopt a server style approach versus its current host-based approach. Another easily-fixed issue is the “spawning” system within the game. All to often I find myself being constantly killed a few seconds after spawn, thanks to a predictable system that everyone eventually catches onto. What’s so fun about that? Nothing, to be frank.

Although Black Ops 2 has made strides in its single-player campaign, it suffers from a boring and linear multiplayer experience. I can literally put in Call of Duty 4 from five years ago and have a blast, compared to the “laggy-ass-shit” that cost me sixty dollars… I’m still baffled why people still buy this piece of crap! If the Call of Duty franchise hopes to continue its success in the future, it must change, not “evolve” slightly as Black Ops 2 has. My advice, don’t buy it. Or if you are, wait till it piles up in the bargain bin a year from now because it’s not worth it. You might be wondering if there are any alternatives to Call of Duty, and yes there are! Stay tuned for an upcoming review about a game that is worth your money and your time!

Quentin’s verdict: Innovative and exciting single-player campaign, shit multiplayer

Overall: 5.5/10

Quentin is a fourth year political science honors student. He clearly enjoys playing video games too much during his free time. He hopes that you have not thrown up too much due to this massive nerdgasm.

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