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A Closer Look at Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

I’m not going to start this by saying “you may have heard of Call of Duty”, because everyone has heard of Call of Duty. Your family pets probably know what Call of Duty is. So, now we’re past the introductions, Activison announced earlier this week at E3 that they will be releasing the new addition to the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 franchise. What you may not have known, is not only is the CoD franchise one of the biggest franchises in the gaming industry, but also one of the biggest franchises in the history of entertainment. Let’s take a look at this history-maker.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is set in the near future, and will star David Mason, the son of Alex Mason, a presumed dead supporting character from Black Ops.  The military actions of today will be defined by the world of tomorrow’s technology to fight wars. The skies will be flooded with unmanned patrol drones; all the while mechanized tanks will control the ground. It is a reasonable inclination, as it will protect the lives of our troops.  At least until someone else takes control of those systems, and turns them against us.

In a world where the worst case scenario has occurred, Black Ops 2 is set in the year 2025 where the US (and presumably the rest of the world) is facing a huge attack. Activision and Treyarch have kept a lot of the details under wraps, though they have begun to show off some of the features of the single player story as well as a new mode called “Strike Force”. This will be a standalone feature, though it will have an impact on the campaign.

For those of you who missed it, here is a sneak peak at the video we saw at E3 (protecting the president mission):

The demo takes place around half way through the game in LA on June 19th 2025. The city is facing an attack from unmanned drones, including enemy troops in the streets. This is just one of many timed attacks taking place across the US at this time. The Pentagon, Washington DC, and Wall Street are the other targets lead by a man named Menedez. These attacks were intended to cripple the country in one fell swoop. The attack on LA was directed at the world’s leadership, which was meeting in LA at the time.

At the beginning of the demo we see Mason protecting the President, whom is residing in a convoy under attack. One of the drones destroys the highway, forcing Mason to jump on a SAM turret and destroy all the drones. Once the SAM was hit, Mason was sent scrambling as the truck the SAM turret was on began to fall, and the fight took to the streets.

A minor change Activision have made to Black Ops, is now there will be the addition of choices mixed in. In the demo, Mason can either protect the president or rappel down and fight on the ground. Another neat little feature is all the awesome futuristic weapons we can expect to see. Some of these weapons will be recognizable to fans, only with minor tweaks, but there are some — like the new sniper rifle that features an x-ray scope and a power-up shot which can shoot through walls — that are new for the game.

The entire in-game tech is based on real-life weapon development. There is still a lot of difference to the guns we’ll see in-game, but the basis for the weaponry is very realistic.

Mason continues down the street while taking on whole platoons of enemies, when he is joined by an FA-38 which can hover overhead. This then acts as an “armored overwatch” as Mason advances through the ruined city. We are then introduced to another weapon: the friendly drones.

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Mason was able to mark areas to send the drones to, allowing them to attack those sections and take out oncoming troops. Afterwards, a skyscraper begins to fall ahead of the crew, followed by a firefight in the streets. Taking a short cut, Mason and his crew head onward and find the FA-38, including the wounded pilot. Mason seized the plane and took to the skies to continue the flight.

What I saw from the demo the gameplay looked smooth and the 60fps was obvious. While the graphics need a bit of polishing (which will more than likely happen before the November release date), the weapon selection is fresh and unique. By using future tech, Activision have opened a massive new world of combat ideas for the Call of Duty franchise, and the inclusion of more gadgets and tools seems like a natural one.

As for the combat, it was in true Call of Duty style. Need I say more? This is the reason so many other first-person shooters are based on the same control scheme. It just makes sense.

In addition to faithful CoD standbys, as I mentioned earlier, CoD: Black Ops 2 features a new gameplay style called ‘Strike Force’. Treyarch didn’t mention much about this new feature, but it is its own section of the game. The developer did say that what happens in Strike Force will affect your solo campaign.  

The level of ‘Strike Force’ that was shown took place in Singapore and featured squad-based combat. You, the primary player, will have to move and direct your squad toward objectives in various different ways, and Treyarch claims there is an open world, sandbox approach to this mode. There were three points in this demo that the team needed to approach and interact with. Then, for a limited time, they had to hold a position for a certain time in order to complete the overall objective of sinking an enemy controlled ship.

What makes this mode unique is that it is more than just your average shooter. Strike Force incorporated tech-based strategy. Seemingly, you could call in a UAV at any point to mark targets and send in your squad. You could also control offensive machines, and attack both enemies and enemy armor before deciding to switch back to your standard FPS point of view. Once they had interacted with, and controlled all three points, the demo ended with a cutscene of a single missile crashing into the ship, thus causing it to sink. How this is relevant in the overall game is still unclear, though it was interesting to see a different approach taken with CoD, reminiscent of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, a game which also made heavy use of gadgets, tech and squad-based play

Sadly, in true Activision style, there was no mention of a multiplayer format, though we do know Treyarch will again be bringing the extremely popular zombie mode back in this sequel, but we will have to wait and see the changes that it may or may not have undergone, as well as what we can expect from the multi-player.

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The series seems to be in good hands with Treyarch from what we can tell in the glimpse shown, and longtime fans will likely be pleased at the fresh new take with the futuristic warfare. It’s a sligtly new direction for the franchise, but not so different as to make it unfamiliar and unpopular. The controls and graphics seem to be the same as we saw in Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops. It may not win over the haters, but with their tens of millions of fans worldwide it doesn’t need to.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 will be released for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on November 13th. It will likely go on to then make a billion dollars by the 20th.

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