Late last week, I voiced my opinion on Call of Duty: Black Ops 2’s single player component. I was a little harsh on the effort, mainly because the Call of Duty series is still making the same mistakes it has for years now when it comes to telling a proper story. So the single player might have left me cold, but thankfully the multiplayer suite and Zombies mode pick up the slack considerably.
Much like previous CoD efforts, Black Ops 2 is teeming with options when it comes to multiplayer. The game boasts a boatload of maps, all of which feel much more inspired than the lackluster battlegrounds of last year’s Modern Warfare 3, and there are over a dozen different game types to play. I’ve logged quite a few hours into the multiplayer effort of Black Ops 2, and I’m still coming across things I’ve yet to experience.
But the biggest addition to Black Ops 2’s multiplayer is the way it handles character loadouts. It seems only fitting that since the Call of Duty series practically perfected the loadout concept, that it’s the one to drastically alter it years later for the better. Gone are the days of picking a primary weapon, secondary weapon, a few perks and a grenade type within a rigid system.
In Black Ops 2, Treyarch introduces the “Pick 10” system, which allows you to equip whatever the hell you want as long as you stay below your ten points allowed. Would you rather give up using a secondary weapon to instead equip a few extra attachments to your primary? Done. Want to give up that secondary grenade type in favor of another perk? You can do that, too. The new loadout system in Black Ops 2 is truly a breath of fresh air that allows for infinite freedom when it comes to choice. It would not surprise me if other developers take notice of what Treyarch has done here and begin implementing this new system in their games. It’s pretty brilliant.
The other major change to multiplayer in Black Ops 2 is “Killstreaks” have been replaced with “Scorestreaks.” Killing enemies, capturing points and completing objectives earn you points, which go towards unlocking and using one of your three equipped Scoresteaks. They range from UAVs, to drone attacks to care packages and a lot in between. However, if you’re killed, your Scorestreak resets to zero, meaning you have to be much more cautious running around the map in order to not get killed and lose those precious points. I feel this is a change for the better, simply because it means there are less all-powerful attacks bombarding the map at all times, which was a major problem in games like Modern Warfare 3.
Now, the final part of the multiplayer experience in Black Ops 2 is Zombies mode. Zombies can be played solo, but it’s a much more enjoyable experience when played with friends or strangers online. For Black Ops 2, Treyarch really blew out the concept of Zombies, turning it into a pseudo open world with multiple destinations to stock up on supplies and defend from the undead.
The main Survival mode has returned from previous Zombies efforts, but Black Ops 2 also offers two new modes – Tranzit and Grief. Tranzit is the game type that loops in Zombies mode’s open world, connecting a few destinations together via a dangerous bus journey. Tranzit is, without a doubt, the most ambitious of the Zombies offerings, but Treyarch doesn’t really do a great job relaying information to the player. It took me quite a few failed attempts at Tranzit to figure out just exactly what I should be doing to “win.”
Grief, on the other hand, is probably my favorite new addition to Zombies. It’s here that two teams compete against one another until only one person stands. Players can’t freely kill one another, but instead must use the environment and zombies to their advantage to lure opposing players into traps to dispose of them. It’s a game type that involves some strategy to come out on top, and above all else, Grief is just a fun experience to be had with a bunch of buddies.
If you’re a fan of how the Call of Duty games play in an online setting, then Black Ops 2 will not disappoint. The core gameplay is the same as how you remember it, but the new “Pick 10” loadout system and Scorestreaks make things a bit more personal in regards to the former, and enjoyable due to the latter. Additionally, Zombies mode has grown even larger and offers plenty to keep you busy should you exhaust your interest with single player and standard competitive multiplayer. Single player might be a bummer, but at least multiplayer and Zombies pick up the slack to make Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 a worthwhile purchase as long as you have the means to play it with other people.
We received one review copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 from Activision. The game arrived on launch day, so we were not held to an embargo date. Before starting our review of multiplayer, we played roughly eight hours split between the competitive modes and Zombies mode.
Erik Norris is the Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @Regular_Erik.