Everybody by now is familiar with the Call of Duty formula and what to expect from the game, so keeping the title fresh is not always an easy task. While half the fans want the Call of Duty team to try out new things, a lot of other fans want the formula kept the same because it works, for the most part. While it is unfair to criticize a game just by virtue of it choosing to be primarily narrative driven and has minimal actual gameplay mechanics, there are points to consider about the franchise’s responsibility as the largest and biggest blockbuster video game in history. Should Treyarch change the formula for the sake of artistic merit as the critics demand? What for? Obviously, the formula works and it fails for the most part not because of the amount of interactivity but because the story and the narrative have not been well executed (at least not since Call of Duty 4, or if you are more lenient, the first Call of Duty: Black Ops game). Besides, that is what Zombie and Multiplayer modes are for. Thankfully, Treyarch feels the same and although they have introduced some tweaks to Call of Duty’s campaign mode, most of the improvement focused on the story and the storytelling aspect, while keeping the working formula intact. The only thing that almost derails the experience in the campaign are the bugs and glitches. Although the latest patch fixes a lot of these issues, some still remain and can be really annoying.
Along with the tried and tested formula, Call of Duty: Black Ops II returns with the best texture and character animation in the business. Now with the added benefit of DirectX 11 enhancement, Call of Duty Black Ops II’s graphics engine has renewed confidence. Even without tessellation, the character models look fantastic with high-res textures and DirectX11 lighting/shadows. The move to DirectX11 API also means that highly efficient GPUs, such as the Kepler series video cards from NVIDIA, can really push the framerates to the stratosphere even with maximum settings. With 8X MSAA and at 1920x1080, even the GTX 650Ti was pushing 60+ frames per second in the heat of a heavy firefight. The latest 310.70 drivers carry a 3D Vision “Good” rating, although Zombie and Multiplayer mode are already rated "Excellent". Future updates will most likely bump the Campaign mode up to the highest rating as with the previous Call of Duty game. Despite this, I didn’t see any huge stereoscopic issues and it was perfectly playable in Campaign mode.
Overall, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 stuck with formula but has managed to introduce new aspects and elements that improve the experience. The narrative is a lot tighter, even compared to the original Black Ops title, but due to some glitches experienced and the number of quick time events, it still doesn’t dethrone Call of Duty 4 in terms of overall satisfaction. A certain level of quality is always expected from blockbuster AAA titles like Call of Duty and Treyarch hits the right notes this time delivering a satisfying game all around, not just in terms of multiplayer replayability but with the main campaign mode as well.
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