Eurogamer Expo 2012 has closed its doors for the year, boasting over 50,000 attendees, a brand new home console showing and almost every major upcoming release being playable. Over the next 2 weeks expect to see Previews and coverage of the latest and greatest titles from the Parable team!
The Call of Duty series has slowly but surely stagnated over its more recent entries, with each title offering little in the way or large game altering changes to the formula and opting instead to try and keep the status quo in place for as long as possible (and the money flowing in as quickly as possible). With Modern Warfare 3 generally being considered a failure by the same fans that supported the games for so long and a shift occuring between the popularity of the main two development companies, Treyarch and Infinity Ward, Black Ops II has a lot to live up to in order to appease fans of the series and keep them coming back. I got hands on with the Multiplayer of Black Ops II and as a veteran of the series am going to see if they’ve done so effectively.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II had the largest section of the Eurogamer Expo hall by a noticeable margin, creating a massive round table stage for some lucky players to play on, complete with TVs and consoles as a part of the table, a commentator and a constant crowd for the game. There were also smaller setups so that around 50 players would be able to play the game at once but we were lucky enough to play on centre stage and get a real feel for the competitive atmosphere that I’m so used to.
Before dropping into the first match I got a chance to take a real look at the Create a Class 2.0 that is introduced in this new title. Rather than working on the module base we’ve seen consistent in Call of Duty releases since the introduction of Classes and XP in Modern Warfare, each class gives you 10 points that can be spent on absolutely anything. While this promotes freedom to a massive extent and really allowed me to play around with your loadout choices, I have a bad feeling that this will allow masses of potential balance issues to arise shortly after the game launch. The entire system of selecting my new loadout felt much simpler than in previous titles and never really left me confused as to what to select, surprisingly.
With my class selected (I opted for a Type 25 Assault Rifle kitted out in a similar fashion to a standard eSports loadout to keep things close to what I was used to) we dropped into the first game, which gave my my first real taste of Multi-Team. 4 teams of 3 pitted against each other is a premise that sounds dangerous with the erratic spawns that can occur in a Call of Duty title, so I was relatively skeptical. Actually playing the new mode didn’t completely dissipate my fears but it did do a lot to give me hope that Black Ops II is really pushing the series in a direction that I’d like to see it go in.
The first thing you’ll instantly notice once you spawn in is that the sensitivity settings are completely different. Gone are the original 10 options, replaced by 14 to provide more precise sensitivity. It took me an entire game to find something I was used to and comfortable with, but once I had aiming felt more precise and controllable than in any previous title, which was really nice to see. Another key thing to note is that the auto-aim has been drastically reduced as default. Many players will find this a bit of a culture shock for the first few matches as they struggle to latch onto targets as they actually need to have much more control over their shots. This works in tandem with the increased gun recoil, comparable to some of the more difficult weapon in Black Ops as standard to create an experience that requires much more skill to drop the opposition quickly.
Other small things I noticed where the slowdown of drop shotting by making prone take much longer to do, something akin to titles like Battlefield, and the drastic decrease in weapon reload and swap speed, even with perks, to keep the gamew from becoming too fast paced. It feels like Black Ops through and through, which has always favoured a more slow and methodical approach than the all out bombastic explosive rampages we see in the Modern Warfare series, with the former of which having cemented itself as my favourite through my experiences. This title plays very fluidly and well and really steps up the game in making sure things don’t get too out of control.
Killstreaks follow suit with this mood of “toning things down a little”, by making it much harder to actually achieve anything that can do real damage. It may be because nobody knew the maps or weapons but there were very few major killstreaks being called in during the games, the few of which were earned were done so by myself. By the time the second match came around I began to find myself much more at home with the title, making nice plays left right and centre as well as keeping my (lacking) team in the game. While my first match was shaky I was dropping a consistent 4 k/d in the second, ending the game with around 40 kills and MVP by a country mile.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is the kind of title that looks to refine rather than revolutionise, which it manages to do rather swimmingly from what I can see. It seems that Treyarch have finally caught onto the fact that more isn’t necessarily always better, which bought them to designing a Call of Duty that would hope to bring back players as well as new ones with a more skill based and slow paced experience. I really enjoyed my play session and am now eagerly awaiting the chance to really get to grips with the title in order to see if issues begin to show up after extended play sessions.
We playtested Call of Duty: Black Ops II on the Xbox 360.
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