I recently awarded Call of Duty Black Ops 2 as my number 2 top game of E3 and for good reason. Treyarch, by all accounts, appears to be working on yet another wonderful addition to the Call of Duty franchise and at E3 it really stood out. The number of people crammed into the Black Ops 2 demo line was unreal and dozens of people stared at the big screen in a trance when the trailer was on display in all its glory on the show floor. Once again there is reason for optimism but “ho hum” we have been down this road before. For the first time in years, the franchise received a fair amount of criticism from fans last year. One look at the Metacritic user reviews for Modern Warfare 3 suggests there is an underlying current of resentment towards the franchise. Could this be due to the Battlefield 3 versus Modern Warfare 3 backlash? Perhaps, but one thing is for certain Treyarch appears to be making some changes to its traditional linear single player campaign.
Check out my E3 top 5 here: http://canadianonlinegamers.com/preview/canadian-online-gamers-presents-biggies-top-5-games-of-e3-2012/).
While at E3 in LA at the Activision booth, myself and The Outcast (COG’s Editor in Chief) had a chance to settle into some pretty sweet leather theater chairs and take in the demo of the Black Ops 2 single player campaign, including the new Strikeforce mode/mission. At the end of the demo I was impressed but I am warning you Treyarch does not appear to be making any drastic overhauls to the franchise. In fact, it appears as though the same engine is going to be used yet again. Yes they make adjustments to the engine every year but at the end of the day it is the same engine. 60-frames per second has become the franchise standard and with record breaking profits year after year Activision is understandably a little nervous about making a massive overhaul. That being said, it appears as though Treyarch is deviating a little for that traditional CoD linear single player formula and the results could be quite positive.
Black Ops 2 looks to add some choices and a little bit more variety into the mix. It almost appears as if portions of the game will be, dare I say, sandbox style. We had a chance to watch a couple of the missions from the game at 3 and the first mission featured big epic Hollywood blockbuster set pieces. The first mission had us looking at LA getting ripped to shreds. In this demo, you and your squad are escorting the president to the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. It is not long before you get ambushed on the freeway and all hell breaks loose. The level of chaos is intense and the pace of the game, much like traditional CoD games is relentless. Explosions, non-stop gun fire, yelling and pure chaos was the name of the game here.
After you and squad are attacked, you take the combat on foot. You will man a Stinger missile, and other futuristic weaponry that allows you to tag multiple enemies at once. The game is set in 2025 so we can expect a great deal of high tech futuristic looking weapons when the game hits retail. The next portion of the demo involved selecting between sniping where you provide cover fire for your squad or repelling down into the chaos. In demo we opted to choose to snipe with a scope that could detect enemies with a heat sensor. This badass sniper was able to blast away enemies from a far and it even appeared as if the sniper was able to blast through objects. The next few sequences involved commanding an FA-38 and downing enemy planes.
The next part of the demo introduced everyone to Strikeforce and apparently it plays a significant role in terms of the games ending. This being said, the Strikeforce missions are not directly part of the single player campaign per se. It appears as though they will be side-quests to a degree. Whatever the case may be, I loved it. In the demo you are calling in airstrikes and moving your way towards a container ship. You can either proceed along the ground with your squad mates or you can control them in the Overwatch view setting waypoints for your squad. You can spawn items like battlefield drones and quad-copters in order to assist your squadmates. How you decide to proceed is up to you and clearly Stikeforce deviates from the traditional CoD formula. This is not about “run and gun” but rather it will require a great deal of strategy. A nice little mode indeed and I hope to hear more information about it in the coming future.
So it seems the gang at Treyarch are not only well on their towards making a solid Call of Duty game but this time they appear to addressing some of that backlash witnessed last year with MW3. I for one am looking forward to Black Ops 2 as I am certain this one will be a worthy addition to franchise and will likely shake up that CoD template a little bit.