Eurogamer Expo preview: We got another chance at to check out the multiplayer in Treyarch’s CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 2 this year’s EG Expo.
The countdown timer ticks over and my team splits off into different directions – again. You guessed it – it’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II. We’re playing Kill Confirmed on Express: a devastated train station where derailed carriages lay bent and broken over the tracks and walkways are littered with debris. It’s a fairly small map, filtering you through tight corridors and bridges over the tracks to long and open platforms. Small windows along an overpass allow you to look down upon firefights on the tracks below to pick off unaware targets, indoor stands provide little hidey-holes to poke out of for a few pot shots, and the more open station entrance serves as a bloody arena for all to pile into.
It serves the Call of Duty mentality perfectly. You’re constantly pushed towards the fight – or otherwise spawned on top of it – and only ever a few paces from the next head to shoot. The same stupidly fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping and disorienting mix of gunfire, grenades and godlike kill streaks prevails once again. Not a moment’s rest is allowed, no pause for a breather: once that initial timer has counted down it’s go-go-go until one team has achieved more senseless murder than the other.
It feels the same, it plays the same, it looks the same. Is there anything new to get excited about, though? Sort of. There wasn’t much time to explore the create a class options, but there does seem to be a lot more freedom to create wildly different load outs. The “Pick 10″ systems basically scores each gun, attachment, perk or “wildcard”, so you can pick and choose between many different set ups as long as you don’t exceed the ten point limit.
You can take the Perk 2 wildcard, for example, allowing you to take an additional tier two perk, but then you’ll have to choose something to sacrifice in its place. Do you remove an attachment for your main weapon? Your grenades? Or do you give up your side arm completely for further extras elsewhere? It’s possibly the most intriguing new system in Black Ops II’s multiplayer and gives you freedom to experiment with some totally bonkers ideas. Why don’t you try equipping a single weapon with more attachments than a rich kid’s Action Man or overloading yourself with perks to become a fast-sprinting, free-falling, bullet-soaking scavenger – with a rocket launcher.
A class above the rest
Obviously, some will fail horrendously and send you tumbling to the bottom of the scoreboard, but it’ll be interesting to see how the multiplayer evolves over time as players find new ways to shoot each other better than the rest.
Back into the game and it’s on to a team deathmatch on the second map, Hijacked, which takes the guns and explosions to a fancy boat to give the deck a new coat of red. Split into four teams of three the same unremitting chaos ensued: ten second lives, twitch reactions and taking down anyone and everyone you can before the next wave respawns behind you.
The craft may be large when you compare it to other boats, but Hijacked is still a small map with extremely tight indoor sections, small walkways down the sides and raised tiers to look out across the battle. Escaping some of the more devastating pointstreak items is far tougher here, especially when a carpet bombing can cover the entire boat in one strike. The area was so compact that someone trying to shoot me down stood waiting around every corner – death seemed even more frequent than usual, but this was still business as usual for the FPS behemoth.
As such it’s tough to really get behind Black Ops II with unwavering enthusiasm in the face of such familiarity. You could argue at me for days about the subtle differences between this BLOPS and the last BLOPS, this COD and the last COD, but they’ll struggle to register. New streak rewards and customisation options are all well and good, yet, Call of Duty: Black Ops II still feels like the same game I first started playing in 2007.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II, by Activision and Treyarch, is scheduled for release on November 13th for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.