As we all know, Black Ops II was released earlier this week selling millions of copies within the first 24 hours. Although I can’t say I have played it enough to give it a full review, I want to give my first impressions on things I like and dislike, as well as things I would love to see Treyarch fix, adjust and possibly release in the future.
These are first impressions, so they are subject to change based on how well Treyarch supports the game, and if any major Youtube commentators start teaching people the over-powered classes, and general ways in how to play like a douche nozzle.
Single player (4 hours in): I’m torn on this one thus far. I appreciate Treyarchs’ nostalgia driven first mission, as it brought up some great feelings from Black Ops 1. Using guns from the past game is fantastic, but I can’t get around the fact you’re thrown into a turret sequence right away. Besides that minor flaw, the missions afterwards are relatively well crafted, although the “choose your own path” mechanic was hyped more than it should have been at this point in the game. I have a feeling it will pick up soon and I’m excited to keep playing. I also like the create-a-class incorporation into single player, a nice addition to let players experiment.
Voice acting is superb this time around (honestly, 10/10) and Treyarch really tweaked this game visually. As far as Call of Duty games go, this one is at the top in terms of presentation, sound and graphics. Sgt. Woods is bat shit crazy, by the way, and I absolutely love it.
Zombies (3 hours played): What can I say… it’s Zombies! It’s very clear that Treyarch held nothing back this time around. Vonderhaar has even said that Zombies was receiving an unprecedented amount of attention (budget, production, and promotion wise) and it shows. Zombies feels like its own game (as it will be in the future, mark my words). I can’t say I got too much into the new modes though as there is only so much time in the day. From the few hours I did play, you could tell this is Zombies at a whole new level. I can’t wait to dive in further.
Multiplayer (8.5 hours played): Ahh multiplayer, where do I begin? This is the best Call of Duty multiplayer experience ever…if they lock down the connection issues. I understand it’s a new game, and that there will always be problems (*cough* should have been a beta *cough*), but come on Treyarch! This series has run off the same PVP net code (basic principle, anyway) since Call of Duty 4. The excuses are running thin on not getting it locked down.
For starters, my internet is…above average to say the least, and the fact that I’m on a 3 bar most of the time is absurd (yes, I am aware of the “best” option in connection settings). With over 700,000 players online at any given point, this really should be a mute issue by now. And this is coming from an Xbox 360 player; I can’t imagine how the PS3 players are fairing with the freezing issues when trying to find a match.
Than again, I am no game designer and/or coder, so me commenting on this is equal to me giving NASA engineers advice on why the Challenger exploded.
Regardless, now that the air has been cleared, it’s time to get into the good. The new “pick 10” system is phenomenal. I couldn’t tell you the last time I jumped into a Call of Duty game and had to re-learn something. It’s a great feeling, really…not knowing what I’m doing, testing out new combinations…unfamiliarity is a good thing, and I’m glad to see Treyarch taking control of this one.
With this new system comes an endless amount of gun behavior possibilities. I haven’t unlocked everything (not even close, actually), but just seeing how a single gun can be endlessly modified with multiple perks and attachments really makes me wonder if I could ever go back to a previous Call of Duty title. It’s that good people, even if some of the ideas were ripped off of a couple other major FPS titles (Homefront, Battlefield 3, and Medal of Honor).
The game feels good as well, but that’s always been what made console Call of Duty’s stand above other titles: clean graphics rocking at an (almost) steady 60fps. I can’t speak for PS3 players (as they have notoriously been left behind in the past), but the Xbox 360 version runs beautifully, as it should.
One area that could use improvements is the map design. Vonderhaar made it very clear that they took a great amount of feedback from the competitive community when designing some of these maps. Honestly, they may have listened too much. The “three main running routs” ideology has thankfully returned (replacing the cluster bomb Modern Warfare 3 mentality), but for whatever reason, countless camping and head-glitching spots were built-in, making the entire experience rather frustrating at times.
Don’t get me wrong, I stand by my original statement: This is the best Call of Duty ever (upon first impressions). But being left with such a proven engine and a fresh weapons/attachment/perk system overlaid on top of some poor map designs brought me to the realization of what I would love to see Treyarch to do: Feed off their own nostalgia.
Treyarch: We all know the inevitable map packs are on the way. On top of those, why not offer us a “World War II” and “Cold War” DLC pack? Notice how I didn’t say “map pack?” As seen in the first few levels, we know there are several gun models from past Call of Duty’s loaded into this game as is. How incredibly awesome would it be to see some of the best guns and maps return from Black Ops 1 in a “Cold War DLC,” or some MP40 action in a “World War II DLC?”
Yeah, you heard me: Gun packs. With the endless adjustability and fine tuning offered by the pick 10 system, gun balance could finally be properly calibrated when throwing new (old?) weapons into the mix. Even without gun packs though, just imagine how fantastic this game could play on a map like “Firing Range”, “Castle” or “Summit?” It would be a truly amazing thing, and I hope to see it in the future.
That’s all I can really say about this game thus far. It has potential to stand on its own as the series’ all time great, but the map design in multiplayer really is the limiting factor that I see so far. I know the connection issues are poor, but Treyarch has always come through with product support since the original Black Ops (I won’t get into World at War, because that game is beyond broken). As long as Treyarch doesn’t wait till next October to fix the lag compensation and connection issues like Infinity Ward did with Modern Warfare 3, they are but a map pack away from all time Call of Duty greatness in my opinion.
So what are everyone’s thoughts on Black Ops 2? Best Call of Duty ever or the same steaming pile of crap that is released every year? So far I am having a good time, it’s not ground breaking by any stretch of the imagination, but it offers a refreshing take on a series that has run its traditional approach dry. Let me know your thoughts by subscribing to me here and following me on twitter @NicholasGigante.