Call of Duty is by this stage a behemoth, a juggernaut with no sign of stopping ever soon. It is one of the game series aside from sports titles that has broken into the mainstream in a series way; and is responsible for more Jocks owning an Xbox than anything other than the yearly Fifa installment. For someone that has played the series since it began, it can seem perplexing at times that there is this success; but Call of Duty simply delivers a quality product each year. Some years are more innovative than others; others are less. This year is one of the better ones.
What many people don’t realize is that Call of Duty titles are developed by two studios alternately. The Modern Warfare series is developed by Infinity Ward, whereas COD5 and the Black Ops series are developed by Treyarch. I personally prefer the Treyarch entries; they always feel a bit more expressive, a bit more innovative than the others, as though the developers try to slip in as many interesting little things as they can along the way. They seem to have fun with the engine they are given.
Leaving the “modern” setting behind, BO2 now travels into what I desperately wish I could call a “post-modern” setting, but which is better described as a “future” setting. The narrative actually switches between the protagonist of the first BO game, Alex Mason, in the waning days of the Cold War, and then back to his son David in the year 2025. These earlier placed levels are actually very enjoyable, as few FPS games travel to Afghanistan during the Russian War, or into Angola during the border war, and these make for interesting settings. The future levels are rather more out there; and any expectation of realism must be abandoned for coolness sake. Thankfully this works for the most part. An explanation that a new element has been discovered allows for the creators to get away with a lot more than normal when it comes to in-game tech.
The campaign feels suitably futuristic, with the descendants of modern guns imagined; along with new attachments and gadgets that feel like the player really is in that time period. Along with this, automated drones, turrets and cloaking devices are all controlled by the player on various levels, adding to this feel. The most unique addition to the single-player levels are optional stages which are best described as tower defense games; the player can control soldiers from the air or drop down to control one of them personally. This works sometimes, other times does not, but is certainly interesting.
Who are we kidding though; most people play COD for the multiplayer. The incredibly successful zombie defense game returns; and fans of it previously will not be disappointed. The regular multiplayer has a variety of well-constructed maps allowing for varying play styles to be involved. All modes from previous titles have been included. The most interesting revision is the create-a-class system, which is called the “pick ten” system; where limitations of what can be included are instead dropped down to ten choices with fewer limits on specific areas. With BO2 you’ll soon be fighting off waves of 12 year olds with mics like never before; and youll be loving the time spent doing it.
COD BO2 is the titan in the genre for a reason. I for one am very glad to see that it still innovates, as I would hate for it to stay with the Modern Warfare setting to the point of oblivion. The only real criticism I have of BO2 is that often it felt like there were too many scripted sequences in the campaign; as though the player barely controlled anything for several minutes. I suppose time will tell if we will play a COD game in 2020 which takes place after mankind has ascended to an energy life form; but one thing will be for sure, we’ll all still have 12 year olds screaming into their mics, which makes the image of a cosmic life form holding a rifle that much more pleasing.