THIS year saw new games released by some of the biggest names in the first-person-shooter genre, including the ninth instalment in the Call of Duty franchise, Black Ops 2.
For a first-person shooter to be successful in an already congested market, you need to offer the player two things: something new and something interesting. Over the past year, games have produced only one or none of these prerequisites, but Black Ops 2 succeeds on both counts.
At the start, it seemed just like a typical first-person shooter, but the more you play it the more you realise that this is something extremely special.
In campaign mode, you take control of David Mason, a leader of a special forces team in 2025, to stop terrorist Raul Menendez from unleashing war on the world. The trick comes when you are given the opportunity to take control of David’s father, Alex Mason, during the Cold War — and the terrorist himself.
What makes the campaign mode special is that the player’s decisions in the game influence the ending. If you kill somebody, the ending will be significantly altered from the standard one. We haven’t seen something like this since 1998’s Metal Gear Solid.
One of the biggest differences between Black Ops 2 and other games released this year is that the player will still get the whole experience of the game despite not having an internet connection. This has been the biggest issue with new games; you spend loads of money on them to play at home and then you are "penalised" for not having an internet connection for your console and are able to experience only about 50% of the game’s true potential.
Another highlight is the zombie mode. Here you can play alone or with friends over a network or the internet and fight off a zombie onslaught, which will keep you entertained for hours. In zombie mode, you are also given the choice to play a campaign-type game in which you have to complete several levels to find out what caused the zombie attack. This is fun but irritating in the beginning as you are given only a handgun and a limited amount of ammunition, but it is very enjoyable once you get used to it.
The controls are standard with most first-person shooters. The defining aspect of the game is that you can control a squad of soldiers with the touch of a button. This makes the gameplay interesting yet demanding, as one wrong decision can have consequences.
Black Ops 2 features a star-studded cast, with Sam Worthington playing the main protagonist. It also features greats such as Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman and Michael Rooker. The main theme was composed by Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails.
This must be the best first-person shooter in the world. It is going to take a major effort from other developers to beat it.
RATING: Four-and-a-half stars out of five