Gamescom 2012: Hands On with CoD: Black Ops 2 Multiplayer
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Looking forward to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2? Well here's the scoop on the multi-player...
For many, this is the game of the year. The Call of Duty franchise has been going from strength to strength in recent years, dominating the sales charts with every release. So it was no surprise when the lines at Gamescom stretched right around the backs of their stands, filled with dozens of fans, eager to get their first experience with Black Ops 2. But with press pass clutched firmly in hand, we were able to sneak in an early demo, and get a taste of the multi-player action for ourselves.
The game was set up so that there was a change for everyone to get to grips with the game in a quick ‘Headquarters’ match, although now this game mode is called ‘Hardpoint’ and is actually a mix between ‘King of the Hill’ and the traditional ‘Headquarters’, as the control points are more commonly locations now than buildings. All in all though, the idea's still the same. After a few rounds of this, the real competition began, splitting the 12 players into four teams of three to show off their new ‘Multi-team’ game modes. Reminiscent of Halo’s own, it allows up to four separate teams to compete in a death match. As the pace quickened with the frantic gunplay, it began to dawn on me that this game is going to be pretty darn good.
Refinement of Duty
The first thing I noticed is that the game feels slightly different. This may be a small thing to notice, but when players have spent as long with a franchise as they have with Call of Duty, then they will notice even the most subtle of tweaks. Black Ops 2 feels smoothed out, ironed and slick. Not that the previous titles felt jerky, but movement is now noticeably more fluid when jumping, vaulting or going prone...it feels much more natural and less like a game, really heightening the realism of the experience.
As I delved a little deeper into the game and the classes available, other important changes came to light. Killstreaks, for example, are now a thing of the past; replaced with the new ‘ Scorestreaks’ achievement. Now, while this may not seem like a big change, it is worth remembering that almost everything in Call of Duty brings you points, from a single kill to a mere assist. However, in Black Ops 2 it is possible to capture a flag, make one defensive kill and then secure your own flag and earn a UAV, despite only making a single kill. It feels much more rewarding, and also ensures that there is now an adequate reward for defensive actions, something that was slightly lacking in previous games.
Character customisation has also undergone a big overhaul, with an emphasis on keeping a balance while giving players free roam to experiment. Players now have 10 slots to use, but they can allocate them how they wish. Don’t need a side arm? You can use that point for an extra grenade. Don’t want all the perks? Use one to put a third attachment on your gun. There is a wealth of possibilities open to you, and when you combine this with the new ‘Wildcard’ option that allows each player to pick 3 ‘Wildcards’ that further enhance their character with options like picking two perks from the same tree, or extra grenades and flash bangs, the possibilities are almost endless. However, there was a small voice in my mind at this point, reminding me of the fiasco's that have emerged in previous titles from having too much customisation power... (Running around at warp-speed with a tactical knife?) But hopefully these bugs have been caught and ironed out in the play tests.
The most obvious changes, however, are the new weapons and Scorestreak rewards. Many weapons are the same, but there are some new ones that have been added to reflect the future-ish setting of Black Ops 2. The Scorestreak’s though, are always where the action's at. Attack dogs are back, for one, alongside new additions like ‘The Guardian’ and an anti-riot device that slows attackers. Hellstorm Rockets are like the Predator missiles from before, but now the Hellstorms can split into six separate rockets before impact, decimating an entire area. You can even call in Lightening strikes and stealth choppers.
At this point you may be forgiven for thinking that they have only changed the things that they always change within the franchise, and while that may be true, was anyone really expecting anything else? Call of Duty has a firm and loyal fan base, so they've simply expanded on the things they really like, leaving the things they don't...well...out. This is not only wise game development, but it has also led to a refined and polished FPS that is arguably one of the very best on the market. And with 55 levels to climb through, and then the obligatory 10 levels of prestige, this is a game that is going to keep a lot of people very happy for a long time.
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