Well, it’s Call of Duty all right. Every year we follow the same procedure. We’ve been conditioned to accept it, if not necessarily like it. November comes knocking on our door, and with it comes the next instalment in the colossal Call of Duty franchise.
I, like most of the world’s population, have played Call of Duty before. I would even consider myself a fan of the franchise, although I don’t buy it annually; this is largely down to the fact that I believe Call of Duty has deteriorated in quality over the past couple of years. It was with some surprise then that I found myself excited for Black Ops II. It looked like Treyarch wanted to change things up, make multiplayer more dynamic than ever, and possibly win back the loyalty of wavering fans like me in the process. Well, it has worked. Sort of.
After putting the game through its paces for 20 minutes I can confidently say the game has changed. The first major difference you’ll encounter is a huge one, and it will change the way you play. Custom classes have been completely revamped. Rather than selecting a primary weapon, secondary weapon, 3 perks and so on and so forth, you can now completely personalise your class. In Black Ops II each custom class has 10 slots. You can fill these slots with whatever you want, leaving out whatever you don’t want. Don’t want to use 3 perks but want more attachments? Attach away. Never use secondary weapons but want more grenades or gadgets? Get picking because there’s a lot to choose from. Black Ops II allows you to tailor your classes entirely to your style of play. It’s liberating and makes the old system feel constricting and something of a killjoy.
When I was eventually put into a game – I played Kill Confirmed and Multi-Team Deathmatch – it felt comfortable and looked great. It still controls, feels and generally plays like the other Call of Duty titles, but don’t draw negatives from that. The futuristic aspect of the game isn’t overwhelming or all together that noticeable, but what it allows for is a fresher take on the Call of Duty formula so many people are fond of. The weapons I could choose from were all new additions. New gadgets and attachments add some much needed tactical depth to proceedings, whilst the new kill streaks are varied and quite frankly awesome: the guy in front of me got punished by a giant exploding boomerang.
The two games I played took place on different maps, and again I was pleased with what I deem an improvement in design. Maps were large and varied in design. This increase in variation meant I could play exactly how I wanted to play. Both of the maps had plenty of open spaces, choke and flanking points, and lots of elevation to keep you checking those windows as well as the corners. Ideally this will result in multiplayer games staying fresh and tactically engaging, rather than becoming stale and repetitive.
My brief play time has left me feeling very encouraged. I expect Treyarch to deliver the goods this November; perhaps even more shocking is the fact that I actually want them to.