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Call of Duty: Black Ops II (PS3) MP Report #1

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It’s been well over a month since I started playing the latest Call of Duty’s multiplayer. The fact that I’m still playing that mode a month after its release should speak volumes though.

This is the first Call of Duty multiplayer game that I’ve stuck with since Modern Warfare 2. But unlike Modern Warfare 2, I don’t see myself abandoning it anytime soon. Black Ops II’s multiplayer mode is the most refined version of the multiplayer that Infinity Ward put forth in Modern Warfare 2.

Multiple kill streak types are still here, perks of all flavours are in and so is the ability to customize load outs to your whim. So what makes this Call of Duty different? Why isn’t this game a clusterfuck of a mess like the others? Well, truth be told, it still can feel incredibly lopsided when someone gets on a roll but unlike the games before it, there are a number of precautions and smart decisions that were made to tone down the mayhem.

Customize Everything

Black Ops II’s theme of customization permeates through its multiplayer like no other. Cosmetic emblems, dog signs, profile pages, reticles and other trinkets enables folks to personalize their online personas. I was most impressed with the emblem editor which was similar to that found in the Forza Motorsport games. Folks were finding creative ways to combine simple shapes form dolphins, Cartmans and other amazing creations.

But I don’t really care for those cosmetic options, I care about the class customization options. An open ended ten point system enabled up all sorts of perk and weapon combinations that were not possible before. If I didn’t care for grenades of any kind, I could give those two slots up and grab another perk. Or perhaps I could have three attachments on my primary weapon instead of carrying a secondary one. I couldn’t build the ultimate class but the ability to cater my class more intimately to my play style was a breath of fresh air.

Everything is balanced?

From what I’ve played, Black Ops II appears to be quite balanced. Many maps are submachine gun friendly which is a stark contrast to the Call of Duty maps in the past. Many of the maps are heavy with close quarters which makes it tough for burst weapons and assault rifles to shine.

By implementing the Scorestreak system like the one found in 2010’s Medal of Honor, other actions such as assists and capturing objectives contribute more to the killstreak meter than just plain kills. I’m a fan of this system as it makes it much more difficult for people to rack up kills and fill the sky with death. I’ve witnessed my fair share of that chaos early on but they are so few and far between now.

The neutering of perks such as Ghost helped tremendously as well. None of the perks seem particularly overpowering or must haves. Instead I gravitate to the perks that best fits my play instead of picking the ones that keep me competitive. (Stopper Power, anyone?)

I tend to play Ground War because of the mix modes and player count. With that in mind, I haven’t encountered many spawn issues. It’s still possible to predict spawn points when a Domination match is going one team’s way but it isn’t point of contention for me yet.

Technically adequate

Black Ops II still runs at sub-HD resolutions but it’s no where as low as the 940 x 544 that the first Black Ops ran at on PlayStation 3 hardware. This time around, the game is actually playable at 880 x 720 or whatever the resolution the PS3 version is running at. I couldn’t bare not being able to make out the details in Black Ops. This game isn’t completely devoid of the awful smear/blur but it is playable which what is most important.

The most important technical detail is the connection stability and the game’s ability to properly matchmake me to a solid connection. This is the most stable Call of Duty game I’ve played in years. I just hope I haven’t jinxed myself by praising it.

So many modes

Gun Game and the rest of the “Party Games” returns to Black Ops II but this time without the betting. I couldn’t get into that mode despite it being a very entertaining game type. I didn’t have that problem with Black Ops II’s rendition of Gun Game. It just seemed to have clicked better with me this time around.

League Play is a great idea on paper. I play a handful of placement matches and I then get matched up with people of similar skill level. Unfortunately only a minuscule portion of the player base indulges in League Play and I bet most of those people are only playing to get the Trophy/Achievement. This is what happens when people are playing for unlocks and not for the sake of winning.

A very promising start

It may not have the most diverse maps or have the reliability of dedicated servers but so far it is my favorite Call of Duty multiplayer game since Call of Duty 4. I don’t know how long it will stick with me but I can honestly say that there’s nothing here that turns me off of it yet. And for me? That’s a very promising start.

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