Black Ops 2

This post has been quite a while in the making, it is my thoughts on Call of Duty Black Ops 2. I’m a CoD veteran, I love this series. Let’s get in to it.

A little bit of history. My initial exposure to a Treyarch CoD game was World at War. Whilst I loved the campaign, I found the multiplayer hugely frustrating. There were numerous glitches and none of them ever seemed to get patched. It got to a point where I stopped playing the game and waited for the next Infinity Ward CoD, which was Modern Warfare 2. There are only so many times you can get stabbed by a man hiding inside a rock or shot from under the map before you rage quit the game for good. My opinion of Treyarch was low at this point. Fast forward past MW2 and on to the first Black Ops. Amazing game, by far my most favourite Call of Duty title. I loved the campaign; I feel like I am living through an experience in a Treyarch campaign, I feel like I am playing my way through an Infinity Ward campaign. Treyarch make the experience so much more immersive. I loved the multiplayer in Black Ops. The maps were almost all excellent*, I loved the variety of big and small, different scenery, elevation changes that weren’t just ladders and stairs. I loved the playlists; Team Tactical is where it’s at for me and my clan mates, a variety of objective based game modes with small teams. There was a good balance of weapons, with each class being balanced and usable and with there not really being anything to OP (over powered).

So, Black Ops 2.

I have broken this down into a short bit about campaign mode and then a break down of multiplayer. Whilst I think that the game is worth the £30 I paid for the campaign alone, the vast majority of my time is spent in multiplayer. Aside: Zombies is a signature of the Treyarch CoD games, but I won’t be including it in my breakdown because I literally never play it. I hate zombies. It is just not for me and I am incapable of giving a balanced analysis of it.

With the exception of the strike force missions I am enjoying the campaign mode. The strike force missions represent a distraction from the main campaign in my opinion, they are awkward to control and not much fun. If I wanted that sort of strategy experience then I would play C&C or something similar. On a more positive note, being able to customise my load out for the campaign is great.

Multiplayer Overview
Treyarch have done some great things with the multiplayer mode. The new scoring system which rewards players who are actively engaging the objective is a brilliant thing. It encourages people to play the objective and that is what the game is all about in my opinion. That being said, I think that in game modes where the objective is to kill, kills should be worth more points, I’m thinking more of FFA (free for all) and TDM (team deathmatch) than KC (kill confirmed).

The maps are good, but there just isn’t enough variety. Not enough variety of size, not enough variety of landscape, not enough change in elevation (that isn’t stairs and ladders). Where is the snow and the jungle? Where are the hills, the lifts, the cable cars, the garage doors?

Score Streaks
Specialist and support kill streaks have not made it across from MW3, neither have death streaks. No more death streaks, awesome. I will not miss martyrdom, or that nonsense with the C4 for a single second. I am not bothered about the loss of the support kill streaks either, the changes that reward players playing the objective mean that you are not penalised with a lack of kill streak assistance for doing so. The specialist kill streak has been rendered moot by the new load out system, more on that later, but it is not missed either. Devastating kill streaks are harder to get, I have yet to see a single dog, although I have seen a fair few lodestars and warthogs.

Load Out System
The new points based load out system is excellent. It allows you to really tailor classes to different game modes. Full of win, not a single downside. I do wonder if the new load out system means fewer people are carrying rockets and so these things stay up in the air longer though?

There is a nice variety of weapons with some in each class that are very much usable as a primary, heck even some of the secondaries make reasonable primaries. I don’t think there is anything that is too OP, Treyarch have been very good at buffing and nerfing weapons to maintain a balance. I think they have been a little hasty with the most recent nerf of the FAL though. For me, I know a weapon is OP when I see everyone using it, even players with low skill levels, at the moment that means the AN94 and the silenced PDW and not the FAL. Quick scoping is not as prevalent in BO2 as it was in MW3, but more so than in BO1. Rapid fire sniper rifles. Just no. Honestly, take these out of the game.

Game Modes
Hardpoint is a nice addition to the game, I find it more enjoyable than Headquarters. I would suggest that the average SPM is a lot lower in TDM than in objective based games, it encourages campy, spawn trapping behaviour. The occasional game of TDM can be fun, but only when mixed in with other objective based game modes, that way it doesn’t hammer your SPM, besides which you are more likely to be playing with #PTFO type players who won’t attempt to pitch a tent in a corner (not a euphemism).

Glitching and Boosting
I am very pleased to report that so far, I have not really been glitch killed by anyone, nor have I found anyone boosting in a game. I think the reporting system that came in in BO1 has helped to reduce this problem as has the genuine care that Treyarch seem to have for the community.

Hopefully, you can see from this post that I am very much enjoying BO2. It is a great game which represents a massive leap forward in the evolution of the series. I do not prescribe to the belief that Infinity Ward brings the innovation and Treyarch bring the polish, Treyarch have brought both things to this game.

Having covered some of the good and the bad, I must now cover the ugly.

Being dropped in to a game where you have a full team on one side and just one or two guys on the other side sucks. I cannot tell you the number of times I have spawned in to a game of domination or demolition where a loss is already guaranteed and the opposing team is just stacking kill streaks on top of each other. If more than x% of the original team quits the match then it should end. Do not spawn me in to a game where the odds are not just against me, but where the result is already firmly decided.

Why does Team Tac have a maximum party size of 1? This is insane. I originally thought (hoped) that this was a bug, but it seems to just be the way it is now. I used to play this mode exclusively with my friends, but now we end up playing domination most of the time. We could just manually select different game modes to get the variety, but we don’t like to try and find a new lobby once we have found one with good/nice players and to which we have a good connection. We leads me on to my final point.

The biggest issue I have with BO2 is something that seems to get worse and worse with every CoD title. Lag, or more accurately lag compensation. There is nothing more annoying than putting an entire clip in to someone and not getting a single hit marker, only for them to then turn around and drop you with a single shot. A quick watch of the kill cam seemingly revealing you standing static, never firing your weapon and instead waiting to be hit like a piñata. With BO2 there seems to be an additional problem if you are host. I think I get host quite a bit, I have a good connection and in this game being host seems to put you at even further disadvantage, although I cannot think of why this would be. The best gun to demonstrate the issue of lag comp with is the KSG. Single slug, pretty much a one shot kill. If you are a good shot and the lag Gods are with you, then you can beast with this weapon, but if the lag is against you then expect to get slaughtered. You can hit people in the centre of the body and not get a hit marker. Don’t believe me, go watch some of WoodysGamertag’s videos. Lag comp is real and it ruins the game. I really hope that in the next iteration of CoD it is turned way down. People with a bad/slow connection can always upgrade, but if your connection is good then there really isn’t much you can do.

* Nuketown was, is and always will be a pointless experience. If this map ever finds it’s way back in to general rotation on any CoD game then I am done with that game. There is only one tactic for playing on Nuketown: be the first to call in kill streaks, use them to spawn trap the other team. Whilst this is true to a certain extent on all maps, you at least have a chance to break the trap, but not on Nuketown.

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