Activision’s ‘Black Ops 2 Reviews’: Compelling Narrative, Strong Gaming Experience

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By Erik Pineda | November 19, 2012 1:24 PM EST

Activision executives were in euphoric mood as of Friday last week, overwhelmed by the incessant cash register rings generated by the latest Call of Duty virtual mayhem. The new game title clocked $US500 million sales after its full-day of commercial debut, reports said.

"Call of Duty is the biggest entertainment launch of the year for the fourth year in a row," Activision chief executive Bobby Kotick was reported by PC Magazine as saying, pointing to the Black Ops 2's "first day sales of over half a billion dollars worldwide."

This feat only affirmed that Activision has created a strong brand following underpinned in the CoD gaming franchise, added Activision Publishing chief Eric Hirshberg, citing the excitement and success previously spawned by earlier CoD titles such as Modern Warfare and the first Black Ops.

It has become some sort of a tradition for the gaming world, Mr Hirshberg told PC Magazine.

"Every November we do more than just the launch of a game, we kick off an annual, unofficial but worldwide phenomenon called the Call of Duty season," he said.

Early reviews of this latest CoD instalment highlighted the Hollywood treatment employed by Treyarch Studios in developing the game, relying on the mindset of David Goyer to create a world that hosts the exploits of two Black Ops operators spanning two generations of Cold War.

The father-son tandem of Alex and David Mason, personas to be assumed by Blacks Ops 2 players in the single-campaign mode of the game, was pitted by Mr Goyer to the nefarious handiworks of Latino terror leader Raul Menendez.

Mr Goyer, of course, is the brain behind The Dark Knight Rises, and for the wars unravelling in the new Black Ops, his narrative overlaps into two time zones in which the United States are waging war with both the Soviet Union and China.

The first conflict was motivated by political differences, the second spat is more specific, CNN said, as the U.S. and China attempt to corner what in 2025 is considered as very precious - rare earth minerals.

Mr Goyer's storyline is "disjointed but compelling," Larry Frum, reviewing for CNN, said.

"The game's single-player campaign staggers like a drunken New Year's reveller between the past and the future. Missions hop from one time to another with little or no continuity between the actions," Mr Frum observed.

Black Ops 2, he added, is a typical first-person shooter combat game that offers "plenty of weapon choices and some destructible environments make for fast-paced, frenetic battle scenes."

Players wanting to skip Mr Goyer's script would surely enjoy the multiplayer mode, Mr Frum said, echoing earlier sentiments that the strength of CoD game actually lies on the network gaming world where millions meet to 'annihilate' each other.

The game's Zombie mode "does make a nice change of pace from all the realism of the regular combat," wrote Mr Frum.

And in the end, Black Ops 2 "does provide an emotionally intense single-player story, an enjoyably silly zombie mode and enough multiplayer modes for everyone to find a good game," he concluded.

For Matt Cabral of Entertainment Weekly, the strongest come-on deployed by Treyarch developers with Black Ops 2 is the ability of players to modify their respective characters, a concept that "encourages a more cerebral approach by commanding other soldiers."

This leads to "a more immersive, personal story that ultimately supports a richer experience," Mr Cabral added.

The game is a fusion of tried-and-tested formula and significant and subtle changes that "ultimately make for a stronger ... and more accessible (gaming) experience," he further wrote.

Racking up hundreds of millions in record time, Black Ops 2 is expected to carve a name for itself as one of pop culture's biggest hits, EOnline reported.

"Call of Duty belongs to this pantheon of games which have actually transcended to become pop-culture phenomena, and therefore command an audience in millions ... To put it in comparison, it's larger than most Hollywood blockbuster opening weekends," gaming consultancy firm TechSavvy chief Scott Steinberg told the online publication.

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