CoD: Black Ops 2

Scott Tortorice

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Dave Thier, a contributor to Forbes, gets it:


Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Is One of the Best Told Stories in Videogames

Call of Duty is bad because it takes place in a corridor. Call of Duty is bad because there is little player choice. Call of Duty is bad because people buy it and they should know better. Black Ops 2 is a tired rehash of everything that came before and Activision should be ashamed.


These arguments float around the Internet every year, at about this time, because Call of Duty is an annualized franchise and this is also bad. Like social games, Call of Duty became very popular and so it became accepted knowledge that this was because it is terrible. I see where those arguments come from, but I just can’t get behind them – nearly every year, Call of Duty proves that it’s one of the only franchises that knows how to tell a tight, effective story on the level of more established media.
Erik Kain, also a contributor to Forbes (and I believe a rising star in the world of VG journalism), had this to say:

But all told, as far as the stories in Call of Duty games go, this was one of the most interesting I’ve seen. There are a handful (but only a very small handful) of choices the player can make, and these choices can lead to different outcomes at the end of the game.


I only played through the campaign once, so I’m not privy to the alternate endings yet, but my ending was pretty good actually. Very dark.
 

Redwolf

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I don't really care about choices that influence game outcome.

But is movement funneled like it was in Spec Ops: the line?
 

Scott Tortorice

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I don't really care about choices that influence game outcome.

But is movement funneled like it was in Spec Ops: the line?
Funneled movement? You mean, is it a corridor shooter where the player is pretty much on the rails for combat? If so, yes. This is Call of Duty after all. :) Don't expect any real chances at maneuvering (there is one shootout where you have a bigger venue to approach the target - it takes place on a massive floating city - but most of the other fights are simple frontal assaults).

Here is an example of the gameplay:

[video=youtube;7lVB2ciLSZQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lVB2ciLSZQ[/video]

BTW: what did you think of Spec Ops: The Line? I am interested in all things Joseph Conrad, but the third-person aspect put me off the game for the moment.
 

Redwolf

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BTW: what did you think of Spec Ops: The Line? I am interested in all things Joseph Conrad, but the third-person aspect put me off the game for the moment.
It was enjoyable enough but I did decide that I don't want to play another game that restricts movement (not decisions, movement) that much. I think you will like it.

I had several CoD games but never played them long enough to realize they were that restrictive. The weapons in particular were too comic blaster like.

So what do I play if I want to at least move around the room and want more realistic feeling weapons? Modern special operations or WW2 is both OK. Maybe I should make a real attempt at STALKER.
 

Scott Tortorice

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It was enjoyable enough but I did decide that I don't want to play another game that restricts movement (not decisions, movement) that much. I think you will like it.

I had several CoD games but never played them long enough to realize they were that restrictive. The weapons in particular were too comic blaster like.

So what do I play if I want to at least move around the room and want more realistic feeling weapons? Modern special operations or WW2 is both OK. Maybe I should make a real attempt at STALKER.
I thought Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl had an excellent combat model for a sci-fi horror game, especially with the Stalker Complete mod (which is a must have for that game). It really feels close to Arma at times.

Speaking of which, Arma 2 is another choice for an "open" SP shooter experience. Problem is, the UI is nightmarish at times. The campaign is decent, and the editor allows for you to make your own missions (the editor is the real reason why Arma remains so popular).

Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a good SP campaign that gives a lot of choices as to how to approach any given combat situation, from sneaking, to outright combat (while I am finding Black Ops 2 to have a better cyberpunk story, DXHR has a better combat mechanic for the SP game).

Battlefield 3 has a SP campaign, but I haven't given it a try yet.

Are you interested in MP? While I think COD's MP is much more fun than what BF3 has delivered up, BF3 walks closer to the realism line than COD. The MP battles available in that game can be pretty engaging in a combined arms realism sort of way.
 

Scott Tortorice

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Sometimes you have to wonder just what goes on behind the scenes in the offices of these game devs and publishers:

[h=1]Black Ops 2 'Nuketown 2025' playlist removed, outcry gets it added to new bonus playlist[/h]
Earlier today, Treyarch pulled the popular Nuketown 2025 24/7 playlist in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 citing the dedicated rotation of modes on the map was temporary.
I never heard of a company offering a pre-order DLC bonus...and then taking it away for no apparent reason. At least they finally did the right thing, but you still have to wonder just who thought they could get away with it. The CoD franchise has enough of an image problem, it doesn't need any more, especially for a game that had a very good launch for a change.
 

Scott Tortorice

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I have no idea what any of that means :)

Playlist? DLC?
What happened is that Treyarch offered the Nuketown 2025 map as a downloadable content (DLC) reward for those who pre-ordered the game - something that was a pretty big deal to many in the BlOps 2 crowd because Nuketown was one of the more popular maps in the original game (don't know why, it is a tiny map that leads to chaotic battles. Outside of the suburban esthetics, I never cared for it). When Blops 2 launched, there even was a special Nuketown 2025 server which did nothing but provide various gameplay modes on the Nuketown map (ironically, it had the description: "Nuketown 24/7 - We never close"). Yesterday Treyarch closed it down. :D

Now it is back, but not as a dedicated Nuketown server, but as part of a "Moshpit Playlist". All the Call of Duty games have playlists. That is, because there are soooo many maps in your typical COD game (especially after they start pumping out the DLC map packs after the initial launch - one of the big reasons why COD games remain so fresh [this is why EA/DICE are now trying to copy COD with their 'content drop' copycat effort for BF3 :p]), the maps are organized into 'playlists', just like with music. Most playlists are gameplay based - for example, maps that are good for objective-based gameplay, like Capture the Flag or Search and Destroy (a "moshpit" playlist). Some, like the Nuketown server, are just based on a single map playlist - this map and that is it. Most servers, though, just cycle through a random playlist of all the maps available.

Hope this clears it up.
 

Scott Tortorice

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Looks like the "industry experts" were wrong...again :p:

'Black Ops 2' Tops 11M Units Sold In First Week, No Signs Of Call Of Duty Fatigue Yet

Treyarch’s latest is the best-selling game of 2012, and will likely retain that title even with the highly anticipated Far Cry 3 on the near horizon.

...

But the thing that Activision has done extremely well with its best-selling franchise is give fans what they want. This may be the key to the game’s ongoing success—year after year, the lack of major innovation, the incremental changes and polish around the edges, the neglect of the story and single-player gameplay in favor of robust multiplayer…this is what the fans of the franchise want.

You can disagree with me about that, but it’s extremely difficult to disagree with those sales figures. We’re well past fluke territory.
He makes an excellent rebuttal of the idea that COD needs to morph into an entirely new game to remain relevant (like, you know, how every other established franchise has NEVER done...well, with the exception of New Coke :rolleyes:):

Other video game companies (including Activision’s second half) might do well to glean what they can from Activision’s success. Imagine if the Mass Effect series had followed a similar approach, not changing too much from one game to the next, and focusing more on polish and incremental improvements than on more drastic changes. Or if Diablo III had carried over more of the spirit and feel of its predecessor rather than take such a radically different direction.

Innovation is important, but staying true to a series and its fans is just as vital. Player fatigue may be a problem Activision will need to cope with at some point, but out-and-out player rebellion is not in the cards. Playing it safe may not be as sexy as taking big risks, but there’s something savvy about giving fans what they want year after year, game after game, and Call of Duty’s ongoing sales domination is evidence enough of that.
 

Scott Tortorice

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Black Ops 2 MP as a...side-scroller! :D

[video=youtube_share;n1H3JXqvj-U]http://youtu.be/n1H3JXqvj-U[/video]

Pretty accurate, too! :laugh:
 

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It's really nice game, but unfortunately ends too quickly. And Zombies are damn good ;)
 

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Heads up: You can play Black Ops 2 (and Gratuitous Space Battles) for free this weekend:

http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/02/22/black-ops-ii-and-gratuitous-space-battles-can-be-played-for-free-this-weekend/?ns_campaign=article-feed&ns_mchannel=ref&ns_source=steam&ns_linkname=0&ns_fee=0

Maybe you’d like to play some games this weekend? Maybe you’d like them to be completely free? Maybe you’d also like them to be games you don’t own; games that will stop letting you play them on Sunday unless you pay a reduced price to secure their continued use? That’s a bizarre set of conditions, but whatever, Steam’s got you covered. Both Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Gratuitous Space Battles are holding Free Weekend trials, giving you unpaid access to two completely different ends of the gaming spectrum.
 

Scott Tortorice

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What do you think about Revolution DLC? Have you played it already?

I played it and the maps and new SMG are nice. But what is bugging me is the fact that Treyarch did the same thing with the new Revolution DLC as they did with Nuketown: they put the maps in a dedicated "Hardcore moshpit". In other words, you need to specifically select that map pack to play it and then hope the game mode you like comes up in the rotation. I just don't get the point of this. What I so liked about MW3 was the fact that all the maps were in the same rotation. After IW released all their DLC, you had a huge map rotation to play through which kept things fresh.

I hope Treyarch reconsiders this strange decision.
 

Scott Tortorice

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I finally finished the SP campaign. Honestly, it was by accident. What a fizzle!

By now, we've all seen clips of the fantastic drone attack on Los Angeles that occurs in Black Ops 2....But what you might not know - I certainly didn't! - was that this was the game's final act. I couldn't believe it. I mean, considering that the previous six hours of the campaign consisted of flashbacks to the 70s-80s, and some missions set in the days just before Cordis Die, I figured that when the attack finally arrived I could count on at least as much time fighting this new war as I did participating in the events that led up to it. Nope. Six hours spent preparing for Cordis Die, one hour (if that!) actually dealing with the attack. How screwed up is that?

This is a real shame as those first six hours were really good. As I explained in my blog (pick one! :laugh:), I found the bulk of the BlOps 2 campaign to be extremely well executed (and for that matter, I found the final resolution of Raul Menendez to be equally satisfying...no, I won't tell you which choice I made in the final scene so as to not spoil it for you). It was emotional, dark, character-driven and largely interesting. Unfortunately, it seems as if Treyarch ran out of time or money and said "Screw it! Just put together two more action sequences and we'll call it a day." It really feels that...incomplete? Yeah, that wouldn't be too much of a stretch. BlOps 2 ends in a very incomplete way - not cliffhanger incomplete, albeit it is clear that Black Ops 3 is being set up, and not in an uninteresting fashion - but just incomplete as I have more questions than I have answers (like: what was the deal with that kidnapped girl? Did I miss something? Whatever happened to that?!?).

What a shame. I know it is popular to knock Modern Warfare 3, but I have to be honest: I ultimately enjoyed that game's campaign far more than BlOps 2's campaign largely because at the end of it, you really felt like you accomplished something. I mean, in MW3, WWIII did not end with a snap of the fingers; you really had to travel the globe and fight for every inch of ground before you could finally nail the bad guy. Here, it just ends with a whimper. I find this to be a really bizarre design decision.

Early on, I was having a great time with this title, but I am now feeling more and more disappointed. The campaign fizzled; the multiplayer maps are proving less interesting to me than those in MW3; and I am getting increasingly annoyed by how Treyarch is telling the gaming community how to play its game. For example, I am still annoyed about how Treyarch told the hardcore community that there aren't enough players for us to have more than four gameplay modes. What's up with that? Infinity Ward didn't limit us in MW3 over "fractured community" concerns, so why should BlOps 2? Then there is the equally strange decision to remove Nuketown and then reinstate it in a strange new "chaos" rotation. Lastly, I am also annoyed how the new Revolution DLC maps are also lumped into an arbitrary hardcore moshpit rotation. Again, why is Treyarch telling us how we have to play the game in MP? So far, BlOps 2 is leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. It is interesting to note how I was originally hot on Blops 2 but I have now grown cold, while I was initially cold on Battlefield 3 but I am now hot about it with the arrival of the excellent Aftermath and End Game map packs. Clearly, one is burning out while the other has finally lifted off....

I will say, though, that I did enjoy this Easter egg that appears at the end of the credits. Nothing like an impromptu rock concert starring the game's primary characters!

[video=youtube_share;c27sP1NnLCs]http://youtu.be/c27sP1NnLCs[/video]

However, I even found this to be a bit odd considering the dark plot. What, now we are supposed to forget everything that happened and just rock out? :hmmm:

 
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