November 13, 2012

Too Close for Comfort

Lasting First Impressions of Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Developed by Treyarch  |  Published by Activision

Black Ops II boxart» It’s the beginning of November which can only mean one thing. It’s time for a new foray into the military world of Call of Duty.  Call of Duty: Black Ops II from Treyarch is penned by Oscar-winning screenwriter David S. Goyer (Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, Superman: Man of Steel).  This time, the cold war from the first game continues into the year 2025 where the futuristic arsenal of tomorrow’s military is hijacked by a dangerous villain. It is up to you to save the world from imminent destruction. Sounds very ominous but what’s a war game without a world ending threat?

There was a time when Treyarch was considered by many to be the undesired younger sibling to Infinity Ward when it came to Call of Duty games.  Over the years, however, Treyarch has proven their mettle and has nearly surpassed what Infinity Ward can do with this franchise.  If Call of Duty: Black Ops II is any indication, they are truly set apart now and should never be looked on as the inferior Call of Duty creators.

Black Ops II starts out with an absolutely stunning CGI opening sequence setting the stage for the coming war. It is so immersive that I nearly forgot I was watching a game and not a movie.  Honestly, though, that feeling never leaves even after the cut scenes are complete and the gameplay begins.  The quality of the opening cinematic continues throughout the game itself and I am absolutely stunned that the aging hardware of the Xbox360 can still pump out these incredible lifelike images in real-time.  With graphical and sound quality at the levels presented here, I marvel at the fact that we are at the end of this era of consoles.  Playing Call of Duty: Black Ops II is like participating in an intense thrill-ride action movie. I almost expect to see Rambo or the Terminator dropping in for the fun of it.

Black Ops II screen 2The sound in this game is just as intense as the imagery and truly immerses the player in the battle as the action actually surrounds you. Having never truly been in a warzone or in any kind of battle, I can only imagine this is what it would actually sound like. Treyarch has put as much effort into their sound design as they did the graphics and it has most certainly paid off.

As for the gameplay, I went into Black Ops II expecting more of what I experienced in previous Call of Duty games and, while, yes, this is definitely a Call of Duty game, Treyarch has done a masterful job inventing new and exciting gameplay elements to intersperse in the intense first person shooter action.  Great cinematic sequences like scaling the side of a cliff face with fancy futuristic gloves that grab hold of the rock, following by an amazing wing-suit flight that, in my opinion, didn’t last long enough. The wing-suit jump was incredible fun and a great reprieve from the non-stop action found in the rest of the game.  Another section early in the game had me sneaking past enemy patrols in the underbrush attempting to stay undetected. I never considered Call of Duty to contain stealth areas, but there it was, and it was insanely fun.

Black Ops II screen 1

As usual I played Black Ops II for an hour and I have to admit that the hour play time passed by in an instant. I was so immersed in the story and the action that I was completely oblivious to the outside world around me. When I came back up for air, more than an hour had passed and I was ready to keep going for more.  I haven’t even scratched the surface of what Black Ops II will provide during the course of the single player story and the developers have promised world changing events that can alter the ending of your game. This is a first for a Call of Duty game and I am anxious to see how this plays out.  Having received this review copy from Activision a day before the official release, I did not have any opportunity to play either the multiplayer or the Zombie sections of the game but I can imagine they will be just as intense and realistic as the single player campaign.

Undoubtedly, Call of Duty: Black Ops II will be a huge seller in retail for its sheer popularity, but Treyarch most certainly deserves the praise for an incredibly intense and amazing thrill ride.  For someone like myself who doesn’t usually find himself drawn to many FPS games, Black Ops II makes me want to continue playing and see all the new gadgets that will become available throughout the story.  The thought of absolute success/failure in the Strikeforce Missions that can alter the storyline is also very intriguing and I want to see where that leads.  Once again. Call of Duty has proven why it is the number one selling war game on the market today and Treyarch has just upped the ante another notch.

Treyarch, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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