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Review: Black Ops 2 Campaign, fight for your fate!

by Nicholas Holden (Holden ZA)  Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012 2:51:00 PM

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It’s that time of year again where the latest Call of Duty hits our shelves, this year we are faced with Black Ops 2. The 2 year cycle of Call of Duty between Treyarch and InfinityWard, has landed on Treyarch this year to impress and awe us. Did they manage to do so in Black Ops 2? To answer this I have to refer to one of the most prestigious and glamorous Afrikaans sayings........yip ja!

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Before we step into the world of Black Ops 2 lets cover a few ground points first in regard to the traditional campaign. The Call of Duty series has always had a campaign that has been an in your face, high adrenaline, action packed and relentless experience. This traditional action driven campaign has translated into the Call of Duty series having some of the greatest success with regard to new comers to the franchise. However, as a veteran to the Call of Duty franchise you might not see it that way. Rather, in the same bracket as a beaten down war veteran, you are numb to the repeated action scenes that has been a constant from one Call of Duty title to the next. I believe this constant is what has slowly killed the campaign of the Call of Duty series, it leaves the veteran craving for more than just a couple of explosions and gimmicky action sequences. Instead you long for a better narrative and to connect to the characters you play with, rather than just see the story as a background to some missions where you kill a ton of people. 

Now where does this place Black Ops 2 as the ninth title in the series? Well it places it in a very difficult situation: Black Ops 2 has to be able to live up to the desires of veterans, by providing a more enriched and in-depth story, and it has to provide enough action for the new comers to keep that adrenaline and excitement flowing. Or else the campaign will just be chalked up as yet another Call of Duty title that fell short of greater expectations.

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Stepping into the campaign we are introduced to the world of 2025, where you take the role of David Mason. David has traveled to a secret location within a heavily guarded area, to find his father’s old Black Ops partner Frank Woods. Frank Woods isn't looking so fresh and so clean anymore; the poor guy is getting old. The main plot rotates around conversations between Frank Woods and David Mason. Their conversations reveal to us that they are on the trail of Raul Menendez, the villain in our story. The dialog between Woods and Mason offer the player the option to play out their conversation. Thus, when we learn of Frank Woods's past, we are transported to the Cold War era of the 1970's and 1980's. During this era you will play the role of Alex Mason (David Mason's father).   

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Traveling between the two generations you are forced to see exactly how much the world has changed. The change between the two protagonists plays as an integral role to defeat the monotony of facing the same opposition over and over again. Jumping back into to the Cold War era with Alex Mason and Frank Woods offers an especially nostalgic feeling for players of the first Black Ops. As you will be able to use weapons that are only available in the campaign, such as the AK-74u sub machine gun and Druganov sniper rifle.

The switch between the two characters makes the story much easier to follow in comparison to other Call of Duty titles, where you would have to switch between several characters throughout. As the story progresses, you will find yourself less as the hero and Raul Menendez less as the villain. Rather, you will see the characters as individuals with a set of motives that each has their own justified reasons to be opposed to one another. This is a testament to the writing style that has been introduced to the world of Black Ops 2 which manages to keep the player invested in the story, which allows for a much more fulfilling experience. 

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Throughout the campaign you will be introduced to the new addition to the Black Ops 2: the 'Strike Force' missions. These missions are different from all the other missions, due to the fact that they incorporate the possibility that you might fail. If you do fail, you will move forward to your next mission. Which is in contrast to previous missions in Call of Duty, where if you failed you could easily restart from your last checkpoint with no weight placed upon the story line.  The Black Ops 2 campaign is completely different. Failing your Strike Force missions has a direct effect on the ending that you will have to the story. 

There are several endings that are weighted of what happens in your strike force missions. What this does for the player is offer a replay ability that we have never seen in the Call of Duty series, and is a feature that I believe Treyarch can be proud of. The 'Strike Force' missions are, however, not the only new feature that offers a brand new experience to the player. 

The Strike force missions are not the only new addition to Black Ops 2; introducing loadouts.

Loadouts offers the opportunity for you to select what guns you use in the campaign. This is an addition that is simple but adds so much more to the campaign than ever before. Choosing your loadout allows you to change the way you play the campaign. Choosing silenced weapons will allow you to take a stealth approach, thus allowing you to sneak by enemies. Choosing granade launchers and light machine guns allow you to take a bold approach - geared up and ready to take on horde of opponents with one thing in mind, destruction. The choice really is yours. 

What Treyarch have done to the campaign is offer a more dynamic and enriching experience that will keep both veterans and new comers more than pleased. With great writing, explosive action scenes and a few recognizable voice actors, this campaign has been the first in the Call of Duty series that I have enjoyed in quite some time.

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