Without a doubt one of the biggest games coming up this Holiday season is Call of Duty Black Ops II. While I’m not that big player of FPS games, due to my sucking at them, when the trailers for the multiplayer portion of the game released, it had piqued my interest. At the Game Stop Expo, I had a chance to get some hands-on time with the multiplayer.
Now before I get into the meat of the gameplay, I want to talk about the pre-game lobby, now called System Link, first. In Black Ops and the other CoD games, the pre-game lobby was list-based for every menu. In BO2, the UI for the menus has changed, each one sporting icons/pictures of the players’ loadout. This makes for a streamlined experience and is very easy to navigate.
Before the start of the game, I went with the default Heavy Gunner class and was shown icons/pictures of what my current loadout was. From here I could change my current loadout however I wanted to with ease. I decided to go with the ACOG scope, rapid fire trigger and a grip for my gun; with steady aim, scavenger and marathon as my perks. Lastly for my kill streaks I stayed with the defaults of stealth attack chopper, UAV bomber drones and the radar UAV. It is here were I also learned that there were changes in how loadouts can be configured. While loadouts are now even more customizable, they also do have some restrictions. Such as, you have the option to fully trick out your main weapon, but in turn that will greatly affect how many perks you can be able to use. It also limits throwing items and side arms as well. I’m guessing this is in place so that players can’t stack abilities and to be as balanced as possible. Knowing this I took out the marathon perk and rapid fire trigger from my loadout.
Now heavy gunner was just one of the many classes that were available during the demo. There were other classes to pick from such as sniper, riot suppressor, spec op, and mercenary. These are similar to previous CoD classes but with new names. However there were some new classes thrown into the mix, such as Fly Swatter. While I didn’t get to experiment with the new classes I suspect that these are perk/kill streak specific and for players who are heavy users of kill streaks/perks.
The match that I was able to play through was the new 3v3v3v3 team (SEALS, FBI, Mercs, and SDC) deathmatch on a map called Turbine. Having 16 people on a map was chaotic enough in previous CoDs, but this was ramped up even more now that four different teams were running around. Gameplay wise everything seemed the same to me, that is until I started to see some of the new weapons and perks in action. One of the first new additions that I ran into was the new stun knife. In the trailer, it is show that a player throws a knife in the air and lands in the middle of a group of opponent players. The knife then lets out an electrical charge stunning the players, much like a stun gun. Only when I encountered the knife, it struck my chest and immobilized me for a brief moment. I could still move around a bit and fire off a few rounds, but mobility was very limited. I also got to see the new tomahawk in action when one of the other teams hit me in the face with it. One problem I did see was that the spawning system still needs work. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about: in previous CoDs, players would spawn at a random point in the map after they would die. Sometimes when more than one player died, that group of players would spawn in the same place. That’s good for when you want your teammates all together, but its not so good when enemy players get sent to that same spawn point and take the easy kill. This was a demo, however, so hopefully this gets fixed when the game releases.
Beyond that, Black Ops II plays just like pervious entries in the franchise. Most would say that CoD’s gameplay is just a repeat of last year’s version and that it’s nothing to get excited about. They are right to a point, while it is the same gameplay as the previous games, there are now more options for loadouts, new weapons, new perks and new modes that make the gameplay fun and fresh again. It may not be a “day one” game for me due to the star studded line up of games coming this holiday, but it’s a game that I defiantly will want to be playing online.