I thought I’d never write a Call of Duty review, even a belated one. For me, the regularity of the games seemed to blend into each other and become a cacophony of Michael Bay moments that began to lose touch with reality the moment it became clear in Modern Warfare 2 that game was designed to try and outdo its predecessor but failed.
However, my outlook changed with the arrival of the first Black Ops by Treyarch who at the time was looked down on as being the ‘B Team’ for Call of Duty. Instead of a cookie cutter game, they took some of the lessons from their previous game World at War and built a title that for the first time cast a long shadow on Infinity Ward, the franchise’s original developers.
Setting the game during the height of the Cold War and Vietnam allowed a level of creativity that had been sorely missed whilst avoiding the need to take on other titles in the franchise. That may have paid off better than expected as the game continues to have a staunch following, even after the release of Modern Warfare 3, a game that while impressive still falls into the trap of attempting to better the game before it.
So here we are now with Treyarch’s first real attempt to build on their own good work. That responsibility has been rewarded with a game that forges new territory and shows the world there’s a new ‘A Team’ in Activision’s town.
The game itself takes place in the near future, but makes use of flashbacks that help tie the game to its predecessor. It was a neat mechanic used well in Black Ops and here it helps to break up the modern urban settings with some classic CoD style moments. In addition, the use of near future weapons helps bring out an almost Ghost Recon feel. It all helps give the game some credibility beyond Modern Warfare.
A lot of effort has been made to give the campaign some plot and in the very least it attempts to create characters come across as being more that cut-out soldiers. The villain of the piece has quite the back story himself… one that has an unexpected but strong conclusion.
Gameplay is as tight as ever and multiplayer continues to bring in the masses better than anyone else in the business so it is hard to really comment on something that plain and simply works.
Without a doubt, Black Ops 2 is the most refined Call of Duty title since the first Modern Warfare. It shows that with some thoughtful considerations there is still room for improving on a franchise built on delivering content year on year.