Significant spoilers for Call of Duty: Black Ops
Minor Spoilers for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Whenever the term ‘Black Ops’ is mentioned most people think of stealth, a covert team, or shady deals behind closed doors. Whenever I think Call of Duty, I think realistic warfare. In neither cases do I think of futuristic laser fights followed by rock concerts. But apparently we got those in this game.
At any rate, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 begins with Alex Mason, the main character from the first game. And he’s also dead. Wow, I always love seeing that in a sequel. Strangely, one of the other main characters from the first game, Woods, who is presumed dead in the first game also shows up in the sequel as a more central character. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought the writer threw up his hands up in the air and thought to himself, ‘You know, I really didn’t like Mason in the first game. Let’s bring back a character who was thrown out of a building attached to another guy who was wearing a string of dynamite. That’ll work.’ Again, this is realistic warfare so I would assume one would survive such a thing.
Not that Mason wasn’t an interesting character-in fact he was one of the far more memorable characters from the Call of Duty franchise. He (spoiler warning) was a US agent being mind-controlled by the Russians who used a certain set of numbers. Eventually he broke his programming and, if the player revealed all the secrets in the first game, it turns out that the US government sent a covert group to try to assassinate him at the end. A plot point which is conveniently ignored in the second game. Mason’s mind-controlled issues are touched upon very briefly, but it feels like it doesn’t conclude in a satisfying way. Especially since the main villain in the first game shows up for a cameo, and leaves without any explanation. I would have loved to see some dialogue in that scene, especially since the antagonist was also considered dead in Call of Duty One.
Most of the story is focused on his son, David Mason. I gotta say that I really feel the love in this family. For example, in the only scene we see David and Alex together, Alex is yelling at his seven-year-old son for being too cowardly to climb a tree. David somehow suppresses the horrors of his childhood to grow up to be...Alec Baldwin? Am I the only one who sees this?
Eh, whatever. Much of the strength of the game revolves around the villain, Menendez, who lost his sister in a tragic accident which our heroes (mostly Woods) caused. Unfortunately, even that becomes somewhat irrelevant, especially when all the characters decide to have a rock concert after the credits (I wish I was kidding). Modern Warfare, ladies and gentleman.
The gameplay is...well, it’s Call of Duty so what do you expect? Things shoot at you from left and right-most of the time when you do die you won’t have any idea what hit you. Every game the Call of Duty Franchise tries to outshock the last one by showing graphic scenes. To be fair to the game I do like some of the more futuristic ideas such as cloaking technologies and a gun which can see through walls, but overall this feels like an uneven mess.
FINAL GRADE: 2 out of 5. Let me put it this way-it is possible to make a realistic war game on the playstation-if you want a fantastic one, check out Spec Ops the Line which will likely be in an upcoming review. For this one, however, somehow rock concerts and zombies do not mix well with a realistic war game. If you’re looking for just a decent game to pass the time-some of the levels are fun, but fans of the series might feel unsatisfied. For instance, Menendez goes out of his way not to kill David at one point...a scene which really isn’t explained or paid off in the end.
Next week....Resident Evil 6.