The campaign is only one piece of the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 triangle this year. The other two are Multiplayer and Zombies. Zombies is actually where the co-op is at, but we'll briefly touch on multiplayer. Sadly there's no "combat training " this year for co-op players, though you can play matches with bots, it's a bit more disorganized than before. The multiplayer itself got a huge overhaul, and I'd do it a disservice to explain the intricacies of these changes. The biggest of which are the way loadouts and killstreaks work, the latter which are renamed score streaks. Overall I'm just not a fan of the Black Ops 2 multiplayer experience - but I know there are people that enjoy it. Just know if you liked the previous game's, there is a bit of a learning curve to figure out the new progression system.
Zombies is our final menu item and obviously the most important to us. Treyarch created this game mode in the original Call of Duty: World at War as a bonus and it's grown with every successive Treyarch developed Call of Duty. The original Black Ops saw some insanely high production values in this mode with DLC like Rezurrection and Call of the Dead which featured Hollywood likeness and voice talent. Zombies in Black Ops 2 is split up into three modes - Tranzit, Survival, and Grief.
Tranzit is the main draw here putting players in an "open world " of zombie infestation. Several areas are connected by a bus that players hop on and off of, each area holding new secrets and items as well as goals to accomplish. While the core of this mode is still survive zombies, defend buildings, and get better weapons - there's a metagame that runs underneath this. It's not entirely apparent all of what that game is or entails as Treyarch doesn't spell out objectives. Instead, if you're like me, you rely on the 12 year olds playing the game online to tell you what they are. For instance you can collect parts to build objects that generate power to open doors, find objects to upgrade the bus - like a ladder or a defense bumper for the front.
It's all well and good but developing a co-op strategy is just hit or miss because nobody knows exactly WHAT to do next. The only end game goal that anyone knows of is to survive. But the nature of the mode, with the bus, removes the element of strategy that makes the Survival mode so addictive.
Survival is the familiar zombie mode from the previous games, though it takes place on any of the smaller areas found in Tranzit. While the maps are somewhat modified, they do feel weaker compared to some of the previous offerings. I just never felt like we were forced into the decision of - "Do we open this door to get this gun and risk another entrance point, or just suck it up. " That balancing act isn't present, especially with the mystery box being so prevalent and easily accessible. Still - if you want the more strategy oriented gameplay - this is where you'll find it.
At least there's 4 player split-screen support.
Finally Grief is sort of a versus mode where there are two teams - CDC and FBI - as well as zombies. While everyone can work together, the winner of the match is the team to survive a round with at least one man standing. This means the earlier levels are incredibly easy and the later levels become a bit crowded. The biggest problem? Actually finishing a game. Once you get to the point where the zombies are actually able to overrun most of the players, having at least player left to kill the remaining zombies is a chore and can be damn near impossible. I sat in a match stuck on wave 10 for 45 minutes before finally quitting.
It's admirable that Treyarch didn't rest on their laurels and release a simple "Call of Duty map pack " into the yearly mix. They honestly changed up and tried some different things in every game mode - single player, multiplayer and co-op. Unfortunately while I think some of the changes are heading in the right direction, I don't think the limited time frame allowed them to mature fully and be realized. Oh well, there's always next year.
The Co-Optimus review of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is based on the 360 version of the game which was supplied by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: Players team up to take on Tranzit, an open world style mode where players use a bus to go between zombie infested areas. The traditional survival mode is also available. Play the game's multiplayer versus bots with friends as well.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.