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Coming up short in the call of duty: Black Ops 2 leaves much to be desired

Courtesy of Activision, Treyarch (MP1st.com) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

And now comes Black Ops 2, the ninth entry in the most repetitive and boring series in shooter history. I wasn’t looking forward to this game.

But, I have to admit, the game’s futuristic setting actually presented a sliver of hope for the franchise. Once I started playing, that sliver was crushed beneath the downfalls I had been expecting.

Single-player for Black Ops 2 is just as frenetic, convoluted, and as much of a mess as the original Black Ops. Call of Duty feels like it’s on one long cocaine binge, constantly throwing you into set pieces while providing little explanation of where you are or why you’re there.

Call of Duty’s logic seems to be, “Oh, you want a decent story and good characters? Let me think about that and see what I can … Holy crap! Did you see that huge explosion? Look, look, look!”

And while you’re good and disoriented it continues, “Here, take this realistic gun and kill those guys! Don’t ask questions. Just start shooting!”

With such a focus on spectacle rather substance, it seems Black Ops 2 was inspired by a Michael Bay film — a character is placed in an exotic setting where context and logic are discarded, and where explosions are passed off as narrative.

From what I can recall, the time period jumps back and forth between the 1980’s and 2025. The story revolves around a villain named Mendez, whose sister is killed sometime in the 80’s during an American military raid on a villa in South America.

Said villain is also a drug dealer, which is apparently how he’s able to raise enough funds to build a small army of mercenaries. Now he is seeking to destroy America, and also China because … ugh, you see what we’re working with here.

I can remember places like Panama, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, but I couldn’t tell you the reason for being dropped in these places. And I certainly can’t remember the names of the one-dimensional, stereotypical characters that populate this clichéd plot.

Two characters who supposedly died in the original Black Ops are brought back just for the sake of familiarity; one spends most of the game sitting in a wheelchair at a nursing home. The other is killed just minutes after he is revealed to be alive.

There is one new feature added to single-player in Black Ops 2: the introduction of player choice. Basically, Black Ops 2 will take a timeout from constantly beating you over the head with a crowbar and present you with a situation that you must resolve by pressing the A or B button.

Although it provides the entertainment of any half-decent action flick, the only useful aspect of single-player in Call of Duty is introducing the gadgets and vehicles that you’ll have in the multiplayer.

Gameplay for Blacks Ops 2 is unchanged. All you do is progress through a linear environment and kill wave after wave of enemies. Black Ops 2 stays true to its Call of Duty genealogy with the inclusion of numerous variations of real-life, modern weapons, which I’m sure will be to the liking of rednecks and NRA fanatics.

There was one feature of Blacks Ops 2 to which I was particularly looking forward: zombies mode. I started playing it with a friend, but we soon stopped after discovering that both the rules and maps were inferior to the original Black Ops’ zombies mode. We tried out the multiplayer for a bit, but were only able to play a couple of matches before the game caused the Xbox to crash twice, at which point we quit out of frustration. I’d rate multiplayer mediocre at best.

The new Call of Duty games just aren’t for me. Blacks Ops 2 hasn’t done anything to sway my opinion.

Email Daniel Woodhouse at [email protected].


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