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Call of Duty Black Ops II Wii U Review

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Seven simple words that one could argue is the driving force behind this billion dollar franchise. These days a new first-person shooter is announced every month and Call of Duty has earned a reputation of playing it safe, leaving many players hungry for innovation. In comes Black Ops 2, Treyarch’s newest edition to the Call of Duty series. Has Black Ops 2 got what it takes to break the stigma of being a copy and paste job of previous editions?

Along with a myriad of things that Black Ops 2 does the same, there is quite a bit of new content here that makes the game feel less like an expensive add-on and more like a full fledged standalone title. That isn’t to say that Black Ops 2 is without it’s fare share of faults, but as someone who has played every iteration of Call of Duty since 2007, I must applaud Treyarch in their efforts to create something different, if not better.  If you’re in the mood for a change of pace, the solo campaign is a great place to start.

Singleplayer

Treyarch has done something really special this time around with Black Ops 2, truly making the title a breath of fresh air. Most gamers who buy a new Call of Duty title move straight into multiplayer and completely overlook the solo campaign.  Players will surely miss out if they choose to skip the campaign this time around.

The story picks up where Black Ops left off.  You are once again in the boots of Alex Mason, fresh out of his Cold War operation and onto tracking an international terrorist with a hot temper known as Raul Menendez. The game switches between characters and also jumps back and forth in time between 1980′s and the year 2025, all the while keeping the storylines intertwined.  In the year 2025, you play as David Mason, Alex Mason’s son.

David is a special forces op who is tracking the same Raul Menendez (yup, he’s still pissed) from starting a new Cold War between the United States and China. Menendez is the product of a tragic past and is plotting some serious revenge against the world.  Treyarch did an excellent job of making his character more three dimensional as you get to experience these tragedies with him as they unfold.

Newly introduced to the campaign are branching storylines which allow you to make different choices, accommodating multiple scenarios.  This small change enhanced the campaign’s immersive experience, adding a dimension of narrative to the action.  Don’t get me wrong, the campaign is full of mindless run-and-gun, which I found myself using as a tactic to blow through the levels as quickly as possible.

The solo campaign is truly a highlight of Black Ops 2 and fans would be remiss if they left it untouched.

Gameplay/Graphics

Apparently in the future we all wear the same clothes

Thankfully, Black Ops 2 has broken the mold and delivered a near perfect port for the Wii U, this time in HD.  Controls are slick, graphics are crisp, and apart from the occasional drop in frame-rate during heavy shootouts, we get a Call of Duty port for Nintendo that can finally hang with the big boys!

Gameplay hasn’t changed much from the familiarity that made the previous games so easy to pick up and play. With the inclusion of some futuristic weapons that can see though walls and soldiers touting cloaking suits, you’ll find yourself taking down enemies in a variety of ways.  Technology seems to have made some serious headway in just 13 years time.

Black Ops 2 wasn’t without its classic “Call of Duty moments,”  but for the most part I felt underwhelmed by the absurdity of just how indestructible your character is and how many times you can escape death by mere inches. For instance, one mission puts you in the desert where you proceed to go into Chuck Norris mode and destroy multiple tanks and attack helicopters with a rocket launcher all while riding a horse…seems legit.

Treyarch has also included a customization feature that allows the player to tinker with their loadout, much like the mulitplayer loadout system.  Unique and more powerful weapons can only be obtained by completing certain single player challenges.

Also new to the franchise are Strike Force missions, which allow the player to command and/or take control of individual soldiers and automated drones and use them to do your bidding.  The missions give the player an overhead view of the battlefield to aid in planning attack as well as ordering squads to different locations. While this idea was ambitious, Strike Force, unfortunately, fell short in my opinion . With clumsy controls and an unintuitive tutorial, I felt it wasn’t implemented smoothly into the flow of the gameplay and was more of a distraction from the campaign rather than a complement. Thankfully, these missions are optional (except for one).

 Multiplayer

From a strictly Wii U standpoint, Call of Duty multiplayer has improved drastically.  No watered down version this time around, with everything you’d expect out of the console/PC version of Black Ops 2 with the exception of COD Elite.  Unfortunately, the Wii U community is still quite stark compared to their console/PC cousins.  Be prepared to wait a minute or two to get into a full game, which in the video game world is an eternity, while other game modes shouldn’t be attempted at all.

Unfortunately, I saw this more often than not.

Along with the classics, there are a few new game modes–as well as the introduction of the brand new Pick 10 point system–where each attachment to your loadout counts as one point in the system. This gives the player complete freedom to mold their character completely to their liking.  There are also Wild Cards that allow the player to attach up to six perks at once.

Even with the new implementation of points system and customization options, Black Ops 2 refuses to innovate more than imitate. Much is familiar in the world of Black Ops 2 online, even though hardcore fans will pay no mind, I couldn’t escape the feeling of boredom while traveling the map.

Zombies

Zombie mode was also dead (pun intended).

Zombie mode is back and bigger than ever.  There is now a competitive game mode named Grief  in which two teams try and outlast one another by fighting off hordes of undead. Throwing meat at the opposing team attracts zombies toward them, while zapping the opposing team can prevent them from resurrecting an ally.

Transit mode is another new addition that allows the player(s) to travel to different locations via school bus and gives the game more sense of urgency to get to the next location. I was a little confused by the fact that the Transit map seems to have been set on top of an active volcano with random rivers of lava all around. Even with with the introduction of a few new game modes the formula is still quite the same.  Shoot. Run. Build fences. Buy new gun. Rinse and repeat.  With all the attention from fans that zombie mode gets before a release one would think Treyarch would try and expand the experience further.

Call of Duty on the Gamepad

The Gamepad is my number one choice of peripheral for Black Ops 2.  Although you can play the game with just about every other Wii input device, the Gamepad offers touchscreen options that can enhance your gaming experience.  My favorite Gamepad option is when playing multiplayer, you can call in killstreaks with a touch of a button.  Or change your class without pausing the game.  The Gamepad also allows for the player to display the full minimap during multiplayer–while it’s a nice touch– it does require you to take your eyes off of the screen for a moment.  In a game that appreciates lightning fast reactions, it can surely ruin that killstreak you were working on.

Perhaps the greatest thing the Wii U has to offer with Black Ops and any Wii U title for that matter, is that the entire game can be played from the Gamepad. Pausing the game when using the restroom is now a thing of the past thanks to the Wii U.  Moreover, the Gamepad can even take place on a second screen when played in split-screen mode with a buddy. You can still play split screen on a single TV if you wish, but with Black Ops, the Gamepad can be used as a full fledged second screen.

Conclusion

Treyarch did a great job of trying to bring something new to the franchise that some have considered to have lost its luster.  With the exception of Strike Force mode and an uninspiring zombie mode, Black Ops 2 does more right than it does wrong.  Fans will once again be hooked on the deep multiplayer, but should really give the single player campaign a go-around this time. Black Ops 2 takes advantages of the Gamepad as a peripheral, and gives the game a whole new experience.  Even though the online community is a relative ghost-town, Nintendo finally has a full fledged HD Call of Duty title on its hands, and if you plan on using the Wii U as your preferred gaming device, Black Ops 2 is worth a look.

The Good

  • Good use of Gamepad
  • The game looks great
  • It’s Call of Duty on the Wii U
  • Compelling singleplayer

The Bad

  • Lack of online community
  • No COD Elite
  • New game modes still need ironing out

Final Score: 7.5/10

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  • Dominic Coradazzi

    meh, I’ve never really been a CoD fanboy and I don’t think I’ve ever played any of the games for more than a few hours before it loses my attention; I’ll agree with the 7.5 though

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Bingham/100000260255063 Chris Bingham

    Having no Call of Duty Elite is bad?…. You clearly haven’t tried Elite 

    • Captain Falcon

      True, but when you’re having a port of game on a console that can supposedly handle a feature such as Elite, you’d expect to have all of the features. 

      For example, where’s Nuketown 2025 and Nuketown Zombies on the Wii U, and are we even getting DLC?

      • Jewelarchon

        Isn’t there a patch coming within the next couple days to answer those questions and possibly more? Valid points, but also a launch title in need of time for this particular console, is all, imo.

    • tomtank91

      i know, i had it for mw3 and it was just pointless, it didn’t give anything good to the game.

  • Captain Falcon

    Black Ops II was an attempt to change CoD and bring something fresh (after the shitstorm that was MW3). Though it is a great game, it isn’t the change the community is looking for (new game mechanics would have been nice). Maybe when all the next-gen consoles come out we’ll see a new game engine for CoD… or maybe when CoD isn’t released annually -_-

    8/10

  • Andrew Gonzalez

    I haven’t had problems finding an online match on the wii U version whatsoever.

    • AAAkabob

      You all haven’t tried too many hardcore modes then, or the gun game modes.

      • caleb poynter

        i have and its fine 

  • SoulSilverZero

    Treyarch’s Call of Duty’s are better than Infinity Ward’s IMO

    • tomtank91

      no way modern warfare is a completely better story and online.

      • Captain Falcon

        MW1 – 3′s story were cliche at times and generic. However, MW3′s storyline was by far my favorite out of the three, but a bit short though. Treyarch’s CoDs’ stories were more distinct, and more darker. You actually felt you were in a war in Treyarch’s CoD games, especially World at War (staying true to its name). The dark moments in the Infinity Ward CoDs just make me go WTF (No Russian mission in MW2, and the Family Vacation in MW3).

        Just my opinion.

    • the turth

       The last good Call of Duty was World At War… Too bad we will never see another good COD ever again…

      • Elem187

        I prefer playing in the World War II setting over modern or futuristic military combat.

        But come on, lets fix shooting the sniper rifle into someones toe to kill them.

        • Metal_Man_v2

          In the new games this is definitely fixed.  Sniper shots are lethal from the waist, chest, or neck up, depending on the rifle. 

      • SoulSilverZero

        Yea, I know that COD is a mess right now, BUT AT LEAST Treyarch polishes their Call of Duty’s more unlike Infinity Ward and their Copy & PasteTM method. And AT LEAST The Treyarch games don’t continue from their predecessors unlike IW who makes it all sameish.

    • ICHI

      Hallelujah Brother! :)

  • Nintenjoe82

    I’d give it 8.5, maybe an 8 if there were better wii u shooters about. I thought the campaign was spectacular and fun but far too frantic for beginners with no practice mission and I never cared about the characters like I did Capt. Price & co.

    Multiplayer is as good as ever but too many futuristic weapons can ruin certain scenarios. The community is small but it has been growing slowly. 3000 online is enough for a game but not enough for me to have found a game of headquarters :[

    2 screen multiplayer is a great feature as are all the control options. The biggest letdown is the strike force missions not imlementing full gamepad controls for your squad.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1533537036 Derek Foreal

      I’ve been playing the combat training, and headquarters seems to come up quite a bit, albeit randomly.

  • Jack Frankland

    while certain game modes are empty, there is still a really big community in the more popular ones. especially death match, where you can join a game/lobby pretty much instantly.

  • Tim Catcher

    CERL ERF DERTY MOUNTAIN DEW DORITOS DEW THE DEW XTREME M RATING TACTICOOL

  • memk

    I like how all of “the bads” were things based on community except COD Elite(that dates back to the huge “Black ops breaking wii’s” incident)

  • ConCity Soldier

    I never have a hard time getting into any match online on this game, except for Combat Training.  Everything else is automatic.

  • tomtank91

    I hope treyarch come up with something decent next time because both black ops games have been ok, it’s the online that bores me after a while, they need to do something similar or original to what infinity ward develop.

  • AAAkabob

    I’d give online a 9 cause it’s fun and I have no complaints besides smaller community, 6 for singleplayer cause I was not motivated and it just felt cumbersome to play through, and ? for zombies cause I barely played.  Then again I’m that guy that bought it specifically for online so yea…looking forward to BF4 on Wii U

    • BellsGhost

      BF4 wont go on crap Wii U.

  • http://twitter.com/MbuffTES TES Podcast (Mike)

    I really enjoyed playing this on the Wii U. The gamepad alone sold me. I just hope we get some DLC soon…

  • http://www.facebook.com/Realityglitch Christopher Coonan

    COD Elite really doesn’t mean anything to me. The control options are the best thing about it, making it far superior to the other console versions.

  • Arthur Zennig

    Good use of gamepad? Where? – If the “use of gamepad” means clicking buttons just like ps3/360, then yeah.
    ZombiU has a good use of gamepad.
    OMG! COD ELITE! just forgot that useless piece of ……
    BF3 brings that for free.
    Well, it was a big and nice review. Just got angry with the conclusion.

    • Captain Falcon

      CoD Elite is free now lol

  • Revolution5268

    i seen all these reviews in wii u daily and you guys do give bad score on these games do to lack of players, what did you expect. oh whats next you give ac3 a 6/10 due to nobody plays online like the NG3, sonic all stars as well. I find this odd and similar to the bullshit ign do to their reviews and i though you guy would do better, but im wrong. Prove me wrong.

    • Kori Wade

      I didn’t take the lack of online community into consideration in my final review score. That would be unfair to the developers because that is not something that they could control. I did, however, feel the need to point it out in my review simply for information purposes.

      Coincidentally, I am reviewing Assassin’s Creed 3 as we speak. Stick around for that upcoming review.

      • Revolution5268

        looking forward to it.

  • Elem187

    Do people really play the single player campaign in Call of Duty? 

    I haven’t found an engaging call of duty single player yet. you get COD for Multiplayer frag fests.

    • Metal_Man_v2

      I found the Black Ops II campaign to be quite enjoyable, especially since there are multiple instances where choice affects the story overall.

  • wiiucompl

    Visual and audio quality + Gamepad features =  my favorite game for Wii U in multiplayer mode.

    For me final score 7.5/10 is to low.
    In-game info about online players is between 1900 and 3900 players (Poland). Is that shows the worldwide number of players CoDBO2 on Wii U system? Or maybe regions (Europe/Americas/Asia…etc.) ?

  • audie bowler

    no mention of gimped wii remote hit detection ,no mention of outragus lag currection,no mention of outraus auto aim for twin sticks totally unbalanced were as the wii version was balanced PROVING ALL ALONG X360 AND PS3 had outragus auto aim way above wii and its a casual bot shooter,the wii version was wzy more core it was balanced and wii remote was the lead controller im in shock at how auto-aim the HD versions are

    its a babys game

  • Metal_Man_v2

    A good, honest review.  Which is surprising, since most Nintendo fans on this website seem to despise Cod without even playing it.  I agree with pretty much all of the points listed above. So props to the reviewer! Only thing, while the lack of online community is disheartening, I hope it did not affect the score you gave the game, as that’s hardly the developers fault.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.cook.7923 Ben Cook

    there was a new update for patches and guess wat on barraks there is 3 new tags the peacekeeper as clear as day

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.cook.7923 Ben Cook

    3 peacekeepers mean a sign that there will be a dlc!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.cook.7923 Ben Cook

    sry this person who posted this is ben cook

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JAEJYG64NGXXDGGEZ7OHSDYSVM Codi Ezekiel

    I haven’t actually played BO2 but since it seems to have transitioned well onto the Wii U I’d anticipate that next time, there will be more people buying it for the Wii U and online won’t be as much of a problem of finding people.