Call of Duty 9: Black Ops 2
Here it is, the game you’ve all been pining after/patiently awaiting/inherently ignoring is finally here, and doesn’t it all look so very exciting/samey/vomit-inducing? Set once more against the backdrop of the cold war, COD9:BO2 takes the FPS to places you never thought possible… like Cambodia and maybe even Russia! Imagine that.
The action picks up where it left off, with your hero having just saved the world from the brink of annihilation thanks to the memory of an old Russian sniper and a bunch of numbers… or was it Kennedy and McNamara killing zombies with Castro and Nixon? I forget… well anyway, the story in COD9:BO2 is great/confusing/offensive to almost everyone involved in any form of armed conflict during the 60s.
Small portions of the narrative take place in the present 1960s where you take the fight to The Red Threat in some far flung battlefield you never knew existed until you read this review. Other sections take place in the future as you defend the Falkland Islands alongside Thatcher and Regan from the re-animated corpses of Argentine soldiers. And yet another chapter takes place in an alternative 1960s where an alien horde pours forth from Roswell in New Mexico and attempts to conquer the free world from within its own boundaries. It’s all captivating/moronic/spirit-crushing stuff.
Call of Duty is all about weapons and COD9:BO2 takes FPS gun detail to entirely/pointless/pornographic new levels. Guns can be customised to cater for all your personalisation needs. COD9:BO2 understands that these guns are yours, so if you want to put a giant pink flopping penis slung under your barrel you can. That’s what gaming’s all about these days – personalisation. Of course, there wouldn’t be much point in kitting out your gat if you didn’t have anyone to shoot it at. Enemies come at you with the tenacity of a fearless warrior/computer program/lemming and die in all manor of hilarious/senselessly over the top/disrespectfully gory ways. Don’t worry though, as your character bends down to breathe in an enemies death rattle in glorious 1080p HD you won’t feel any compassion; they all look a bit foreign for any of that.
The graphics engine has had a huge overhaul since the last game, meaning texture renders can reach new levels of greyness. Rubble looks 88.4% more rubble-like this time round and that’s a good thing; so good, in fact, that I’ve decided to add two points to the game’s final score for that alone. How are we expected to emote with the victims of war if the rubble that was once their home does not look exactly like rubble?
Gameplay-wise COD9:BO2 remains focussed on providing its players with the most intense combat of the series so far. One section involves sneaking into a rebel base just like that bit in COD4: MW, while another sees you assaulting a submarine like in COD6:MW2. The stand out moment for me however, was when your attack helicopter gets shot down by an RPG and you have to fight your way through enemy territory… just like that bit in COD7:BO.
It’s not all action either. COD9:BO2 really looks at the human side of war, with subtle nuggets of poignancy. Remember that scene in COD8:MW2 with the chemical gas attack in London and the little girl? Well if you thought that was emotional/shocking/syrupy nonsensical piffle, then you’ll love/detest/consider suicide over some of the more shocking moments in this game. I don’t want to give the game away but it involves napalm and an orphanage.
The sound of COD9:BO2 is fantastic/terrible/sold separately as DLC.
So now we come to the most important part of any COD game; the reason you bought that micro fridge, the reason you booked a weeks holiday and the reason you’re going to queue up in the cold winter air to blow £50 on something you’ll be bored of in half an hour – the multiplayer. COD9:BO2 really builds on the strengths that previous games in the series started. Team play is non-existent, matches are shallow and poorly balanced and the servers are full of homophobic 12 year olds who have apparently had sex with, or are about to have sex with, your mother. It’s charming, it really is.
Instead of focussing on improving its core function, COD9:BO2 multiplayer boasts more add-ons than you can shake an attack dog at. Killstreaks, deathstreaks, suisidestreaks, surenderrstreaks, perks, buffs, weapon upgrades, weapon downgrades, attack dog upgrades you name it you can upgrade it… except for in-match conversation; that has remained stationary.
All in all, COD9:BO2 is a triumph/disaster/abhorrent blot on culture and the art form in general. It features more stuff than the previous COD games (apart from COD8:MW3; that marginally had more stuff in it) and more stuff is a good thing. I’d have hated it if they had spent more time focussing on giving the player a well thought out, evocative experience in favour of throwing as much stuff at you as humanly possible in the hope that you wouldn’t notice that you’ve just bought garbage.
If you haven’t played a COD game before you’re in for a treat/shock/long time wondering what all the fuss is about, if you’ve bought every one since COD4:MW then you should probably consider trying a different title/horse riding/psychiatric help… that is, of course, unless you like your games to have lots of stuff. For the completists among you Activision will be releasing a collectors’ edition which comes with a DLC code for a weapon that’s so powerful you don’t even need to shoot it and a replica necklace of ears just like that guy had in that film.
If you’re still reading this, I’d be surprised; I could give this game a 1 out of 10 and you’d still buy it in droves. When a franchise becomes as massive and as powerful as Call of Duty it isn’t any huge shock that they don’t change the formula. The COD cookie cutter is expensive and pretty, but it’s still a cookie cutter.
COD9:BO2 will be available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. A hugely inferior Wii version will be made available later next year when all the hype has died down and everyone is looking forward to COD10.