Review: Call of Duty – Black Ops II (PC)
GAMEPLAY PT. 2
Strike force both succeeds and fails: On one hand, it's a change of pace and gameplay style which keeps the regular campaign missions from becoming too monotonous. I commend these missions more than simply for the value they bring to the game, because they're a serious attempt to change things up; to innovate. On the other hand, it's clear that Treyach isn't used to creating RTS games, because the command gameplay in Strike Force leaves a lot to be desired: First, the controls are poorly designed. A click and drag feature for selecting units is missing, for example. The keyboard shortcuts are oddly chosen. In one mission, 1 selects turrets, 2 selects drones, the 3 and 5 keys select different infantry squads, while the 4 key inexplicably orders attacks. Secondly, the game mechanics are simplistic – units can only be ordered to do two things; move or attack. There's also little information in ways of their line of sight or health, and there are no unit specific abilities to speak of. You receive reinforcements without any direct input – they just show up, usually right in the line of fire from enemies.
Switching to first person view is done by highlighting a unit of any type and pressing tab. In first person mode, the game plays like any other part of BlackOps II. However, certain missions, like the first Strike Force mission which focuses on defending three separate control points from the enemy, almost demand that you jump back and forth between units to deal with the enemy, because your team's AI isn't very good at their jobs, and you're needed everywhere.
Command view on a Strike Force mission
Even when not counting Strike Force, Black Ops II still isn't entirely without fault. One annoyance is in the all too frequent check point system, which auto saves the game every two or three minutes as you complete objectives. I don't usually mind checkpoints, but Black Ops II is a little too generous with them. For example, the game saves every time you destroy a vehicle. During one mission, I was tasked with running over to a rocket launcher and taking out two tanks. I died after destroying the first one and upon respawning found that the game had decided to put me right back where I was ten seconds ago, rather than ask me to replay what amounted to no more than a minute of gameplay from the previous checkpoint. Asking the player to complete a task that is too daunting can be disheartening, but being able to start immediately where you left off, with no penalties, isn't challenging at all and thus isn't really all that fun either.
Sadly, the game also has one or two bugs. One bug is that the horse used in the open world area frequently gets stuck in the environment, and is impossible to get out. Thanks to that all too frequent checkpoint system I mentioned, this also means that a few of the places where this happens are immediately adjacent to an autosave point. Your only hope of freeing yourself is to restart the mission from scratch. Chances are this will be fixed with a patch, but as the game is today, on release, it's a very frustrating and annoying (and widespread) issue. Another "bug" which we reported on recently, is that some copies of the retail version for pc contain Mass Effect 2 instead. It's not actually a game bug, but deserves mention because, well, when is the last time you heard of something like that happening?