Activision’s crowd at the back of the E3 Expo hall in the Los Angeles Convention Center is always huge. That’s not surprising considering how well their annual multi platform Call of Duty franchise sells. This year, Activision held screenings of the new Call of Duty: Black Ops II and showed off a bit a bit of the action from the campaign mode. It was only fitting that the segment was set in a near future Los Angeles right next to the convention center we were sitting in. A couple of months later at a Nintendo event in Hollywood I got some hands on time with the game for the new Wii U.
I’ve long been a critic of linear and scripted gameplay of the Call of Duty games and considered them more action games than real shooters. Call of Duty: Blacks Ops II goes a long way to fix what I’ve considered serious flaws in the campaign mode. Surprisingly, players now have decisions to make and how well or poorly you execute the missions will have consequences down the road. Where many players skipped the single player offering entirely, there is now an argument for multiple playthroughs of a compelling story that jumps back and forth in time between the 1970s and 1980s to 2025.
There is no graphic drop off on Nintendo’s system this time and except for the omission of Call of Duty: Elite and much smaller install base there is almost no difference. Some of the character models looked a little more like action figures than the Xbox 360 version but the detail was identical. With a multiplayer game on a new system, finding other players is going to be more work but otherwise, Black Ops II should make every new Wii U owners’ library. Activision did make good use of the new controller even if there might have been a few more things that would have been nice to have.
New to the single player campaign in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, are Strike Force missions. These are presented as supporting operations to the main campaign. They are optional and can be failed without obvious consequence. They do however affect the storyline in various ways. Unfortunately these missions are the weakest part of the game. Setup as an RTS take there is a training mode to get players used to this new mechanic which allows you to switch from a bird’s eye tactical map to first person control of each unit but, it doesn’t help much. Your units are terribly inept and for all but an escort mission which you’ll have to be constantly switching back and forth, it is easier to go into first person mode and just do everything solo.
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