Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – Review

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A guilty pleasure, just one showing decided signs of ageing.

The arrival of the year’s Call of Duty is more than just a mere game release these days. It’s an occasion marked like a Hollywood premiere as the stars come out, stores open at midnight and many of the games-buying public venture out to pick up what might be their only purchase in months.

In the face of such hype it’s easy to get forget there’s a game to be played and this year’s offering, Black Ops 2, marks perhaps the last Call of Duty we’ll see on current-generation hardware, so prompting certainly a graphical shift (and hopefully a shift in gameplay too).

Black Ops 2, like a gaming compendium of old, wages its war across three fronts: it’s single-player campaign, standard multiplayer options and the survival-driven Zombies mode each very much its own beast as each vies for our attention.

To address each in order; the campaign mode comes with the usual bombastic world-ending danger, huge explosions and gung-ho heroes. Add to that an era spanning plot (the future and the past in one game, whatever next?) and a villain straight from Bond and you’ll know what to expect.

There is something new in the shape of ‘Strike Force’ levels, which still ask you to shoot things, but to do so while managing friendly forces via stripped-down real-time strategy options. Otherwise it’s by-the-numbers Call of Duty which retains all of the series’ limitations.

Yes, you will traverse stages which throw unlimited numbers of bad guys at you until you reach a certain marker. And, yes, you will blast through rooms of hostiles which will only let you move on once the enemy threat has been removed.

The AI has barely moved on from previous outings either. Most of my deaths were caused not because I was cleverly flushed-out and surrounded, but rather through sheer weight of numbers (and bullets). It’s something of a cheap tactic, and like the linear stage design, one that’s beginning to feel outdated.

Classic multiplayer fares better. Again, little has changed, but the frenetic pace of online skirmishes is what Call of Duty fans expect, and Black Ops 2′s fighting is some of the series’ most fast-paced yet (though won’t convince those who’ve tried past entries and failed to engage).

Expect to amass kills quickly and die frequently, no matter what game type – deathmatch, capture-and-hold, etc. – you’re playing. The fact that death is barely punished means you’ll be resuming play almost as soon as your previous body has finished crumpling to the floor – so is the lot of the Call of Duty online junky.

Next up is the somewhat improved is Zombies mode, where survivors must cover each other in the face of ever more aggressive waves of zombies. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but when played with a well-intended group it provides some of Black Ops 2′s tensest moments; even if it’s presence feels oddly jarring alongside the other two main modes of play.

By offering three distinct play types it’s hard to shake the feeling that Treyarch – and Activision in turn – are either trying to please all, or are entirely too conscious that no singular part of their game stands on its own merits.

More than anything it’s this sense which suggests that Call of Duty is a series in need of fresh impetuous. It’s not that Treyarch have created a bad shooter, it’s just that Black Ops 2 is no longer a genre leader in any aspect except for high that patented high octane multiplayer (and even here it’s only really a refinement of the original Black Ops).

Ultimately that won’t (and hasn’t) stopped people buying it and enjoying it in their droves. Like the dumb action movie you’ll watch while knowing you could be doing something more formative with your life Call of Duty is a guilty pleasure; just one showing decided signs of ageing.

Score: 3/5

Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Price: £44.99-£54.99
Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior IT Support / Projects Engineer

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Director - Product Management

    £75000 - £85000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the largest and fastes...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence