While the Call of Duty franchise continues to generate record-breaking sales number after record-breaking sales number, it has become a bit stale in the eyes of gamers. The lack of evolution iteration to iteration has many disappointed that the boundaries aren’t being pushed, and Activision isn’t allowing the brand to branch out all that much. Black Ops 2, on the other hand, was quite the unknown commodity after a trailer was released that was equal parts future and old school warfare, and left a lot of the old Call of Duty detractors wondering if this could be a fresh direction for the series.
Entering into the demo of Black Ops 2‘s single player campaign and its new Strike Force mode it was hard to predict just what would be shown. Would Treyarch focus on the new gadgets and gizmos at play in their vision of the year 2025, or would they showcase some of the flashback sequences alluded to in the trailer, which feature the character of Frank Woods? Read on for all the details.
The single player demo, unfortunately, played out very similar to the one that was shown during Microsoft’s aforementioned press conference. Los Angeles is amidst chaos, and it is up to David Mason (son of Black Ops’ Alex Mason) to protect the president. Rather than pull some jump cuts in the interest of time, though, the single player mission left in some of the interstitial moments that were classic Call of Duty.
This particular mission’s real focus was on the variety of gameplay, including a branching path, and on the types of cool pieces of future tech at the player’s disposal. Yes, the demo did keep in the moments between covering the female President’s escape from high ground and calling in quadrotor strikes with a wrist device, but those didn’t showcase anything altogether new.
Black Ops 2 is a different version of Call of Duty, but it’s still delivering the same always-at-11 experience, complete with the chance to fly a jet through war torn downtown LA. Some fans who scoffed at the generic look of the past games will find some new things to excite them, and die-hard COD fans will be happy to learn the core combat is relatively unchanged, and still action packed.
The real standout from the demo, however, was the first look at the Strike Force missions in the game. These missions, rather than focusing on telling an exciting narrative, are about giving the player a diverse selection of gameplay options and experiences that they can jump between on the fly.
In this particular mission the team was tasked with securing three specific points before then launching a missile at a nearby freighter — simple objective-based fodder when looked at apart from the gameplay, but it’s the gameplay that makes the mode so unique. Rather than give players just the first-person shooter combat they have become accustomed to experience in Call of Duty, Strike Force blends a little bit of real-time strategy with the game’s ability to jump into any player or control any vehicle at any time.
For example, the player can tell their group to head towards a specific way point, then take control over one soldier in order to lay down mines, and then take control of a hovering quadrotor to provide covering fire. Gamers of any persuasion will find a little something to enjoy, even though the experience is at its core an objective-based mode for Call of Duty.
Treyarch promises that Strike Force will have some story implications, and that failure will impact certain elements in the single player, but they wouldn’t give any concrete details. Apparently there aren’t too many of these missions packaged in with the game — it does feature multiplayer, single player, and zombies after all — so players should expect to be jumping back and forth in order to ensure the greatest success in the main campaign.
While the single player demo of Black Ops 2 didn’t do anything to prove Treyarch has reinvented the formula, the Strike Force mission had a lot of new and intriguing content. Black Ops 2 might not be the huge leap forward that many were expecting out of a Call of Duty title that featured futuristic warfare, but it’s a concerted effort to give players some new experiences.
What did you think of the single player demo that was shown during Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference? Will the Strike Force missions be a new enough mode for detractors of the franchise?
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 releases November 13, 2012 for the PS3, PC, and Xbox 360.
Make sure to check out all of our E3 2012 coverage, including more previews of Activision’s upcoming titles.
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