Yesterday’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II debut trailer finally confirmed the long-held suspicion that the new game is set (partially) in the future. From an elderly Sgt. Frank Woods, we learn that in the year 2025, America’s advanced weaponry is hijacked and turned against the very people it was designed to protect. That said, the future as portrayed in Black Ops II isn’t some random collection of sci-fi tropes and outlandish weaponry; rather, the game aims to present a believable look at warfare in the near future, extrapolated from the technologies and tensions of today.
To give players a frame of reference for the events depicted in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, a series of serious, somber videos have been produced examining a number of pertinent issues: the benefits and pitfalls of cutting edge weapons technologies, the threat posed by hackers, and the primacy of Black Ops personnel in the conflicts of the future.
To be clear, this is no typical set of promotional videos. Rather than the kind of fist-pumping, explosion-laden promos that often accompany the announcement of a high-profile shooter, these five videos are quiet, thoughtful, and occasionally frightening (those real-life mech suits are awfully cool, though). In fact, Call of Duty: Black Ops II the game isn’t even discussed. Fortunately, there is plenty of information on that already available, covering the title’s enhanced graphics, multiplayer mode, Zombies mode, and PC iteration.
It doesn’t take long to watch all five installments, but for players who just don’t have the time, one video sums up the entire series. Check out Synopsis//We’re Not Ready below, though be prepared — it might just pique your interest so much that you end up watching the full run anyway.
The first chapter in the five part series, How Far We’ve Come, features P.W. Singer, author of Wired for War, and retired USMC Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North discussing the ramifications, and the accelerating pace, of warfare technology. Major Alex Brown, of U.S. Army Special Forces, weighs in on the advantages that technology provides.
Chapter 2, It’s Not Science Fiction, focuses on the cutting-edge warfare technology of today, including the unmanned drones used by U.S. forces in Iraq. Major Brown’s admission that “They’re comforting, when you hear the hum of the drones above… especially when you’re in a real bad neighborhood in the middle of Baghdad” is chilling to contemplate.
The possibility that software glitches might afflict military technology — and the potentially lethal consequences of those glitches — is explored in Chapter 3, The Oops Moment. The tragedy of an automated anti-aircraft cannon that, as part of a training exercise, unintentionally killed nine soldiers stands as a terrifying example.
Chapter 4 hones in on the primary conceit of Black Ops II. In When The Enemy Steals The Keys, Major Hercules Christopher, Drone Pilot for the U.S. Air Force, describes military drones as “little more than airframes and programming, but the programming is something we have to protect…” while Major Brown returns to deliver a horrific, clear-eyed truth: “We may have the best technology, but someday, down the road, your enemy is going to use it against you. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.”
In the series’ concluding chapter, Black Ops, Lieutenant Colonel North and Major Brown discuss the crucial importance of Black Ops soldiers to future conflicts.
Ranters, what do you think of these videos? Does the background they provide make you even more interested in Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s vision of 2025, or is it just clever window dressing? What technologies from the videos would you like to see make it into the game? Let us know in the comments below.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II releases November 13, 2012, for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.