Does everyone know what time it is? It's Call of Duty Time! That's right folks, it's the time of year when Activision gets set to release its annual installment of the death dealing, bomb blasting, rage-quit inducing series that is Call of Duty.
As hungry first person shooter fans will be aware, Activision's only managed to reach this phenomenal level of output by outsourcing its development to several different studios. Both Infinity Ward and Treyarch duke it out each year for bragging rights at the top of that developmental pile, and this year's Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is Treyarch's bite at the apple.
Last week in Sydney, along with NZGamer.com editor Alan Bell, I got the chance to get some hands on time with the game and put it through its multiplayer paces. Surrounded by cynical game journos and awash with Carlton Draught, we got our first glimpse at Black Ops 2's multiplayer experience.
e first saw Black Ops 2 during the Xbox Press Conference at this year's E3. This year's iteration is heading into uncharted territory, by placing the action in the not too distant future. Set in 2025, it looks set to give gamers another run at the Michael Bay-esque explogasms that the series is rapidly getting a name for. Except this time there is less Soap and more gadgets, high-tech toys, and robots.
Treyarch are being tight lipped on the story, but before our multiplayer hands-on Treyarch’s Director of Communications - John Rafacz - revealed a little bit more about the title and gave us an eyes on preview of one of the game's futuristic missions.
Black Ops 2's villian is Raul Menendez. Like the nefarious Makarov in Black Ops' sister series, Menendenz is hell-bent on taking down the west. Somehow, he has managed to get his hands on the keycodes that control almost every big gun in the world, and has decided to go all Skynet on humanity. Your character - David Mason, the son of Alex from the first game - has got to stop him. Because apparently for Treyarch violent, mass murderin' heroism is kept strictly in the family.
Our eyes on preview showed off how Treyarch have managed to integrate futuristic tech into the franchise, without turning it into Judge Dredd. The mission opened with your character helping a squad mate swing across a cliff face. With nano-gloves equipped he clung to the rock face, and in a series of Tarzan-like moves the two action-men swung each other to a ledge. But the high-flying didn't end there. After being joined by more trash-talking squaddies, your character flings himself from the cliff face and uses a hidden wing suit to soar down to the unsuspecting enemy. The entire sequence looked interesting, innovative, enjoyable, and entirely unnecessary.
Once on the ground, Mason utilised stealth tactics to take down several oblivious sentries, just before a full on firefight broke out. Here, Treyarch took the chance to show off new weaponry at play - and it's big, loud, and pretty. But they were also showing off the new options the 2025 setting gives players.
For example, in the middle of this maelstrom of missiles, Mason leapt under a grounded jet fighter, ripped open its electronics, hacked into its system, and went to town with its commandeered wing cannons. From what I could see this wasn't scripted, and it indicates the creative options that will be available in the singleplayer experience if players can be bothered to look.
But what of the criticisms of the first Black Ops? The first game was pinged for having rote gameplay, and the firefight I sat through did still have that grinding turkey shoot feel. But thankfully, Treyarch have taken the community's views on-board to spice things up a bit. In a bid to breakup the linear feel of the singleplayer story, Black Ops 2 features new "Strike-Force"missions. These missions are set at various points throughout the game and are played through just once, regardless of whether you pass or fail.
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