Even More Modern Warfare
The latest title in the long running blockbuster series, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, takes a lot of the familiar gameplay and series conventions and puts them in a drastically new setting. The result is a Call of Duty title that promises to put the series story telling at the forefront.
Despite conflicts between Activision, Treyarch, and Infinity Ward, Black Ops II is set in 2025. For those keeping track of the series, that's almost 50 years after the original 2010 blockbuster. Treyarch takes things one step further by having a dual storyline that jumps back and forth between 2025 and the 80s as Alex Mason from the original game and his son Dave fight to prevent the world from the brink of war.
The most striking aspect of the time jump is how realistic and grounded the future presented seems. China has become a world superpower due to the use of rare earth elements, which are a material used in many products in the future presented here. This leads to a cold war between the United States and China as the world begins to wean itself off of the oil used today. Instead of everything going to space and having weapons use lasers, there's a focus on rare earth elements as a central component in many of the world's products, with China controling 97% of the world's supply. Later on in the Black Ops II story, cyber terrorism becomes a threat as the United States own drone fleet is reprogrammed to attack Los Angeles. Weapons and equipment take a few liberties based on things that exist today, with machines having a greater presence in battle and such as wrist mounted screens that can call in support.
Further increasing player immersion in the game world, Treyarch is introducing branching paths depending on when or if goals are completed, in an attempt to move away from the scripted and heavily linear experiences the franchise is known for. Another new mode being introduced in Call of Duty: Black Ops II is called Strike Force, which places players in control of a black ops group as they choose from levels set in places that affect the current cold war in various degrees. Completing a mission successfully isn't guaranteed, there are no retries and choosing one mission out of the ones available is a permanent choice within the campaign. Players can choose to directly take control of the soldiers and other units available in these missions or even simply issue orders from a birds-eye view, giving the mode a sandbox feel as objectives are completed.
Multiplayer details have not been discussed fully, with Treyarch only revealing that all multiplayer modes will take place in the 2025 setting, but it would be a pretty safe bet to expect to see Call of Duty Elite to be utilized. Zombies mode is confirmed to be returning and will feature support for 8 player co-op, along with its own campaign aside from the main story.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II takes the series to another surprise setting and makes effort to beef up single-player options in an era where games are gunning for its place by shoehorning multiplayer modes. It looks to be the game to beat when it comes out November 13th, 2012. Stay tuned!
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