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Back in Black: What Does Black Ops 2 Mean for the Franchise?

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Posted on May 11, 2012 AT 07:53pm

Back in Black: What Does Black Ops 2 Mean for the Franchise?

In the last week, Call of Duty fans have had their prayers answered in the form of an announcement for Call of Duty: Black Ops II. It’s not altogether unexpected, and Activision is never going to let a November slip by without another game for the franchise, but it’s welcome news to many. The game is once again developed by Treyarch, as it seems them and Infinity Ward (now potentially disbanded) take it in turns every other year. But what does the new game mean for the franchise? Will the complaints from the previous title be answered and addressed? Will it be a direct sequel to the events of the first game? How will the setting change? We’ve already got the answers to a few of these questions, but many more remain to be addressed before the game’s launch in early November of this year – so let’s take a few moments to take a critical look at what we know so far about Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

Finally taking Call of Duty into the future

One of the confirmed features of Black Ops II is the game’s setting: it’ll switch between a dystopian future (the year 2025) being rampaged by bipedal robotic war machines and the 1980s. Quite a difference between the two, for sure, but we’re reliably informed that the ‘vast majority’ of the game will be set in the near future. We’re also told that the 2025 sections will be played from the point of view of David Mason – the son of Alex Mason, the main character from Black Ops. The actual story of the game will apparently centre around cyberwarfare between the USA and China – and will likely include a lot of advanced tech toys to play with. There may also be some continuation of the odd relationship Alex started with Victor Reznov, and the story will be narrated by an older version of a Black Ops favourite: Frank Woods.

Branching storylines: a franchise first

Black Ops II will introduce what are known as ‘Strike Force’ missions. These are something totally new to the Call of Duty franchise, and allow the player to make decisions that will affect the way the story plays out. In the past, every Call of Duty game has followed one line of narrative. With Strike Force missions, Black Ops II will allow the player to see how events would play out if their choices were different. Apparently, when a player makes a decision on one of these Strike Force missions, other missions in the ‘tree’ are then unavailable unless the player starts a new campaign. This addition can’t possibly be anything but good news for a franchise which, many would agree, is starting to show its age. A fresh take on story will not only improve the Black Ops games, but also Call of Duty as a whole.

Jet fighters, drones and robots

Whilst previous games in the series (World at War, for example) have allowed players to use certain vehicles, Black Ops II will take it to a whole new level. Because the new setting takes players to 2025, and the midst of a cyberwar, the potential for new ways to play is exponential. We’ve already seen four-rotored fully controllable helicopters, as well as ‘drones’ that can be controlled via a wrist bracer. The recent trailer also showed off some sort of robotic tank which may or may not be playable. So what do all of these futuristic pieces of tech mean for the franchise? Well, plenty! It seems that not only will we be able to man vehicles in-game (something that’s only been toyed with so far), but they’ll be advanced tech with (potentially) laser beams, rockets, flamethrowers… take your pick! These vehicles are a great addition to Black Ops, and an even greater addition to Call of Duty.

There’s no doubt that Treyarch’s new Black Ops II will meet with a strong reaction from both camps: some will love it, others will hate it. Such is the way of things with such high-profile titles. But that won’t stop the orders from flooding in – which is great news if you’re a courier international or domestic, or if you own a video game shop. When all’s said and done, at the very least it has to be said that the new additions to Black Ops II are designed to do things differently. People asked for a new setting, and they’ve got it. They asked for vehicles, and they’ve got them. So the question now really is: what else is waiting for us to discover this November?

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