Activision and Treyarch revealed Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on May 1st. Not that this was a big secret, but at least most of the details of the sequel were managed to be kept hidden very well. I was over at Treyarch earlier in the year on Umbra business, but obviously I’m under such strict NDA’s that I’d probably die in 3 seconds if I’d say something I was not supposed to. I really didnt see any of the game so really, no worries.
I loved Black Ops. Having played 160 hours of Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer and the campaign thoroughly, it’s amazing how well Infinity Ward, Neversoft and Sledgehammer were able to produce a great sequel with Infinity Ward imploding early on in development, but overall, I dont feel the game is as good as Black Ops was.
Treyarch managed to create a really good story in Black Op’s and an immersive experience that really started from the main menu, where you could release Mason from the shackles and do some hacking on the computer. The hacking really expanded the single player story with some story tidbits and more information on the key characters – there were great elements that really showed how much Treyarch focused on the story. I wish they didnt feel the need to do such gratuitous violence though. It seems that in order for videogames to be viewed as “real entertainment” for adults, they have to show ultra-violence. The knife in the eye in Black Ops and glass in the mouth was just a bit too much in Black Ops. You dont need such violence to create impact – take a risk, trust your dialogue, digital actors, animators, pacing and the effect that a combination of these things can achieve.
So, story-telling proved to be Treyarch’s strength in Black Ops and I’m sure it’s going to be that in Black Ops 2. I’m really happy they have some gameplay set in 1980’s, Afghanistan of course, probably Nicaragua, where a lot of late cold war stuff went down. I love the 80’s. Hopefully there’s some sequence à la Black Op’s boat ride in the jungle, where some classic songs play…maybe A’ha’s “Take on Me” as you blast enemies in Afghanistan in a final stand off, true blaze of glory? (Just like Rambo and Trautmann in Rambo III when the entire Russian army was about to attack them!)
Just read this wiki-entry on Black Ops lead character Alex Mason as to how much background info there was on him at the end…considering this is a “hollywood action game”, where background details dont matter, Treyarch was able to create a lot of depth for the lead character: it was all there if you looked. I loved how Black Ops mixed real historical events with fiction. Surely Ronald Reagan, Oliver North and co will be involved in Black Ops 2?
Now, on one hand, I completely applaud Treyarch for taking the franchise forward (literally), but I loved the 1970’s setting of Black Ops, but the story advanced so many years in that game, that they really didn’t leave much to explore in a sequel, so understandably, most of Black Ops 2 is set in the near-future, with some 80’s thrown in for good measure. I always felt Black Ops almost did too much story-wise, they easily could have left out some things and kept Blacks Op 2 in the seventies. Then again, the 80’s offers a lot of interesting cold war happenings that the game can take advantage of.
Now, I’m not super keen on the 2025 setting, though really, it’s only 10 years from now, so there’s no lasers or anything like that, but fighting robots sounds less fun than fighting regular troops, but change is good, I have to admit.
The multiplayer is entirely set in 2025. That was the first thing I asked when I talked to folks who had seen the game: is it both 80’s and 2025 in MP? So it’s 2025 and in my opinion, Black Ops multiplayer was so perfect, there’s really nothing more Treyarch could do in that timeperiod. Then again, despite the time periods in Call of Duty, you always pretty much have the same weaponry and perks. I just want my napalm and my attack dogs in a Call of Duty. Surely Treyarch can put some half-animal, half-robot dogs to attack players in Black Ops 2 MP? Please keep in napalm as well, that was an awesome attack and tool in the multiplayer as you could limit enemy movement with it. Also, took me about three prestige levels to realize you could turn the napalm attack to start whichever way you wanted…
The reason I want those is, that dogs(and maybe zombies) are fun. I think to me, Treyarch sort of puts the players needs and wants first, whereas Infinity Ward is more about “here’s what we think you should like”. Now I think creators need to do their thing and we will either like it or not; I dont want compromise and half the time the rhetoric from developers about “listening to the community” is bullshit anyway…the community is half-insane most of the time.
Still, my point is that I feel that Treyarch is, in a good way, a bit less serious than Infinity Ward, so they are more about…bit more fun in multiplayer with funkier weapons like the RC-XD vehicle. That’s totally fine by me.
The MP map design was pretty damn awesome in Black Ops especially now in the light of Modern Warfare 3 (the latest two MW3 maps: Foundation and Sanctuare are awesome and feature spawns very much like in Black Ops), which has had maps from I think from Neversoft, Sledgehammer and IW. The MP map designs in Black Ops were very consistent and there were some absolutely classics like Summit and Nuketown, but the rest were really good too. I hope the spawn system stays the same in Black Ops 2, so basically teams spawning at either end of the map depending which area you control. Spawn trapping/camping is fine by me if it’s limited.
At the end of the day as long as the fucking scoreboard lists mode-specific stats, so in Domination, Captures besides K/D, I’m happy. That’s a small, yet asbsoutely huge, crucial feature that was in Black Ops and is missing in Modern Warfare 3. Some of us, actually many of us, do not play TDM or free for all, we play objective-based modes where you should score more for doing the actual objectives instead of kills. So, surely those stats should also be listed!
CoD elite needs a lot of work. I’ve talked to some of the core team folks working on Elite and I can sympathize how tough it is to launch such a service, but the service needs a lot of…work.
First of all…integration. Modern Warfare 3 and Elite are not integrated at all. You have to launch a separate fucking app to access Elite outside of the game. The app is slow and I cannot do anything Elite-wise while actually in game?! Get the fuck out of here. I want to be able to message all my clan members at the same time that we got something coming up, because nobody remembers to go and read the clan’s Elite wall anyway. We still have to have a separate Facebook page for our clan to organize Modern Warfare 3 matches..surely Elite should have been the answer to that. Why isn’t there an in-game calendar/wall that you notifies you? Make life easier for me dammit!
Basically I hope the Combat/Player card from Black Ops, which was awesome and not in MW3, is probably Elite in Black Ops 2 multiplayer. The integration surely cannot be worse than it is in Modern Warfare 3.
I join a Solo or Clan Op and do I get notified in-game about that? No I do not. That’s incredibly poor design, though I’m sure working over PSN and Xbox Live can be a nightmare and Beach Head is aware of the problems. Like they say, online services change so much, so I’m sure Elite 2.0 will be a lot better. I sure hope so since I’m paying for it and while the DLC is nice, would be awesome if the actual service would be awesome as well.
Also, give me some actual in-game rewards for Elite achievements. Yes, I could unlock a few graphical backgrounds for my player card in MW3, but that was it. I want some real, game-changer, Project X type of shit in there.
Also, since I’ve put in 401 hours into Black Ops multiplayer, it would be awesome if my Blops achievements would somehow be visible to other MP players. Bungie had this in Halo games where in the lobbies under your name you could have certain type of visuals if you had reached certain milestones in previous games; that’s hugely important to us nerds. To be able to show off with our gaming provess since we have no hot women to show off or money.