Call me crazy, but I’m sure there’s only two people on this planet that have heard of Call of Duty.
I could be wrong there, but bear with me.
For the last few years, Activision has released an annual installment to this franchise, and it seems to sell like hotcakes, even to this day. Black Ops 2 is this years Call of Duty installment, and as fate would have it; just so happens to be coming out within the launch window of the Nintendo Wii U. How does it fare?
One map and one game type was available (FFA). If you’ve played any Call of Duty game since Call of Duty 4, you already know how Black Ops 2 controls. It’s still a mechanically sound franchise, and nothing is really added onto that with the Wii U. What was added however, was the ability to eliminate split screen gameplay when two players are involved. One player, via the Pro controller, will take command of the television screen, while the Gamepad holder has their own screen. No longer will each player take a glance at each others screen….well, the Gamepad player has an advantage there, as the Pro controller player, unless he’s right next to his opposition, cannot see his screen. Loadouts can be chosen via touchscreen for the Gamepad player.
The only thing that stood out quite a bit for me was the frame rate. Visually it does look a couple steps ahead of Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops, however the frame rate didn’t maintain its 60 frames per second, which is a hallmark for the franchise. At no point did the action chug, or did the frame rate dip all that low, but the steadiness players have been accustomed to in the past wasn’t readily available at the show. This was first noticed from the live gameplay demo during the conference, and then first hand when I tried the demo for myself. The Gamepad had similar frame rate issues (I use the term “issues” loosely – it still runs smoothly, it’s just not series-standard 60fps from what I witnessed) though the visual quality of the gameplay its self maintained a similar level of quality as the action on a television set, though like Mass Effect 3, minor jagged edges are apparent.
There are literally no surprises here: This is Call of Duty, through and through. From what I played at the event, it’s the same formula, the same feel, the same experience (so far), only with an admittedly sharper HUD and a new announcer. Naturally there will be some new weapons, killstreaks and such, but if you’ve ever played any post Call of Duty 4 release, you should know more or less what the future holds for you. Will Black Ops 2‘s Gamepad multiplayer feature be a selling point that steers people away from the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or PC versions and more towards the Wii U release? It’s a viable alternative to playing multiplayer sessions on the couch, and it has the potential to drive a few current gen console players to purchase the Wii U version.