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. As a Southern California native, that alone was enough to at least get this skeptic’s attention.
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.
New to the single player campaign in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, are the 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.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s multiplayer also offers some big changes, not so much in gameplay but the setup and character customization. Your class and load outs are now completely customizable with a set number of additions including a sort of wish for more wishes perk. The weapons themselves are also now more customizable and the scoring has been adjusted for balance. Just before launch Activision announced that the Call of Duty: Elite application would now be free. The fan favorite Zombies mode has also been improved now allowing up to eight player games and the new Tranzit mode has been added.
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