Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Preview

Key details:

  • Developers:Treyarch
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC
  • Release date: 13 November
  • Price: TBC

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

It's hard to concentrate with all this noise. Less than hour after Eurogamer opened to the public, and the entirety of the Earl's Court Exhibition Centre has been filled with the sound of revving engines, clattering swords and of course, automatic machine guns.

Of everything on show, Black Ops II is making the biggest racket. Look around the other stalls, and you'd think that Treyarch must be giving out free Krispy Kremes and diamonds. Rival giants like Halo and Crysis haven't even half the queueing punters as the latest CoD.

After twenty minutes of waiting, and a hurried introduction from Black Ops' PR guys, forty or more of us were led to our respective battle stations and told to quickly create a class. Quickly? There are so many weapon attachments, perks, bells and whistles to kit yourself out with in Black Ops II that I could have spent the whole of Eurogamer just reading descriptions.

But I was most certainly not the only person wanting a go, so I had to hurry. There were dozens of assault rifles, shotguns and heavy machine guns to choose from; I went for the fan-favourite M27, complete with reflex sight, foregrip and a new, very Total Recall-looking pistol for backup.

Parachute

Perks wise, it all happened so fast. With the Black Ops event crew signalling to each other and counting down with their fingers, I felt (appropriately I guess) like I was about to parachute into a war. I quickly made myself faster, stronger and invisible to radar, and jumped in.

Our pre-picked game mode was called 'Kill Confirmed', a four-way team deathmatch where you need to grab your prey's dogtags in order to rack up points. It's a good way to keep people moving; instead of perching up on some rooftop with an M16, 'Kill Confirmed' forced players to do some legwork, and actually get out onto the now, much more level playing field.

And it looked gorgeous, Black Ops II still feels like your standard issue Call of Duty, but it's been polished to a mirror sheen. From the superbly detailed characters and environments, to the greased-lightning quick frame rate, Black Ops II is CoD on ice. Quick, smooth and technically flawless.

But fun? I'm not so sure. For the most part, it felt like another Modern Warfare game. The original Black Ops was flawed sure, but at least it had its own aesthetics. The UAV radars and laser sights in Black Ops II feel more Infinity Ward than Treyarch, and it might have lost some of its charm. Hopefully when we get our hands on the single player, we'll feel more of the futuristic vibe.

Futuristic

It wasn't exactly new, either. Futuristic makeover notwithstanding, this was still the same old Call of Duty multiplayer. You shoot at people, they shoot back; sometimes they get the points, sometimes you do. It's certainly a winning formula, but the money and hype surrounding it, Black Ops II has the opportunity to make some bigger changes than just a few more game modes.

In my Halo 4 preview, I doubted the significance of Halo 4's Spartan Ops mode, but at least it's a fresh idea. When Black Ops II makes it onto shelves, hopefully it'll have some too.

Maybe I'm just cross because I didn't win the t-shirt; the top player got a trademark Black Ops II top, and with my score of 14 kills, 12 deaths...well, let's just say I'm still wearing the clothes I arrived in. Other than that, it'd have been nice to see some of the campaign mode. Black Ops II Terminator-come-Red Dawn plot line is about the most intriguing Call of Duty story so far, and I'd have liked to have taken it for a spin.

A mixed bag

A mixed bag - Treyarch certainly know how to put on a show, and, as ever, the new Call of Duty game is looking sharp, sleek and financially viable. But for all the slow-motion kill cams and dead bodies lying around, there wasn't a lot of fresh blood on display. I enjoyed what I played; hopefully, when Black Ops II launches on 13 November, I'll enjoy it a lot more.

A story by David S. Goyer; a huge roster of futuristic weapons; zombies. The complete Black Ops II package still looks very good indeed. I can't wait to play it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find Assassin's Creed III. And some earplugs.