Call of Duty: Black Ops II is dramatically changing the multiplayer formula in a big way, specifically with the new Pick 10 system over the traditional Create-a-Class feature. It's not a decision the team just decided overnig...
Aug 15 //
Hamza CTZ Aziz As for the Vita specific controls, you can tap the front screen to throw a lethal/tactical grenade, use a Kill Streak, or knife strike, and using the back touch pad holds your breath while sniping. You can also press and hold the front screen while throwing a grenade to direct exactly where you want to toss it at. With the PlayStation Near feature, you can share your loadouts with others so that they can use them on their profile. This Share-a-Class feature even lets others use the weapons in your class even if they haven't unlocked the items themselves yet. Single-player wise, the story of Declassified is set between the events of Black Ops and Black Ops II. The missions are designed with an "on the go" mentality, so they'll be easily enjoyable in bit sized chunks. A time trial and survival mission mode compliment the single-player package. Overall, the multiplayer on the Vita didn't look anywhere near as exciting as the PC or console versions of the games to me. Really the key to this being at least somewhat fun is the controls, but we couldn't get any hands-on unfortunately. If anything, I'm way more interested in seeing more of the single-player as that will be the real draw to me. I like the idea of bit sized gameplay on the go.
Developer Nihilistic Software gave us a live demo of Black Ops II: Declassified today showing off the four versus four multiplayer over Wi-Fi. There will be six maps, and you can expect modes such as Free-for-All, Team Death...
We finally have some small details on Black Ops II for the PlayStation Vita. The game will be set between the events of Black Ops and Black Ops II. There will also be weapons and gadgets that take advantage of the Vita tech, ...
Aug 14 //
Hamza CTZ Aziz [embed]232618:44689[/embed]
Call of Duty: Black Ops II (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed])Developer: TreyarchPublisher: ActivisionRelease: November 13, 2012
It was fairly obvious during the Black Ops II reveal event that game design director David Vonderhaar fell in love with eSports the moment he exposed himself to it. "Quite honestly, I didn't know dick about competition gaming until Black Ops got on the [MLG Pro] circuit," David told us. "Some people were like, you need to come see this game played at this level."
"So I did. I went down, I checked it out, and I went, 'Oh my god, why doesn't everybody know about this? Why doesn't everybody experience what I'm experiencing right now? I have to fix this.'" From that moment on, David's biggest question to himself was "how do we make this something that everybody could enjoy and use, how do we make it a part of the game?"
The first answer to the puzzle is League Play, a new mode that caters to the entire audience to properly take advantage of the spectator sport aspect. Basically, League Play is a skill-based matchmaking system that will pit you with people on a similar skill level.
You'll first have to go through placement matches in order for the game to get data on your skills -- somewhere between five to 15 matches. From here, you'll be placed in one of seven (possibly more) divisions that will set you up against players at your same level. So if you suck, you'll be at home with other bad players.
Of course, you won't always be a sucky player (hopefully), and the better you do, the more you can move up in rank and into better divisions. Basically, you'll be playing against a more segmented chunk of the audience rather than the whole piece of the pie in the standard multiplayer. So stuff like that team of Level 10 Prestige players appearing in the lobby to just ruin your day when you're still a Lieutenant will happen far less.
Next comes livestreaming. Pretty much all the content you see on something like Twitch.TV is done through a decent computer rig and a somewhat expensive program to output the footage. With Black Ops II, you won't need anything else to do the livestream other than the game itself. Yes, even on the consoles.
Anyone that's in League Play can just turn on the livestream option and be good to go. You can even do picture-in-picture to show off your lovely face with any USB camera. Treyarch is looking into using the Kinect as an optional camera, but any USB camera will do, including the Xbox Vision or PlayStation Eye.
The studio isn't talking about what platform they'll be using for the livestreaming feature. It could be something in-house, something established like Twitch.TV, or any of the above. Whatever the case, there is a delay of about 15 seconds, and currently you can scrub back footage by up to five minutes for those who are late coming into the livestream.
The key to livestreaming is that you have to entertain the audience with more than just the gameplay footage. You need to constantly interact with the viewers. This is where SHOUTcasting -- or CODcasting as it's referred to in the game -- comes in and Black Ops II is doing it in a big way.
Treyarch has done what no other studio has by providing tools that go beyond a simple spectator mode. The person SHOUTcasting and streaming the match is in control of everything, as they're able to jump to any player on the fly in first- or third-person view in order to call the action.
There's a 2D top-down map that can be brought up, showing where all the players are and allowing the caster to shift right to where the action is happening. A Score Panel can be brought up as well, displaying key info such as who's on a roll with kills. All of this can be viewed in picture-in-picture too, allowing for tons of displays at once.
On the main screen itself, the caster has total freedom regarding what can be displayed with the HUD elements. You can literally turn off everything to give an unobstructed view to the audience (note: this doesn't affect the actual players). Probably the coolest part is that there's a scoreboard that can be displayed, giving this a real sports game feel.
Get tired of talking? Take a break by listening in on what the teams are saying to each other at any time. SHOUTcasting a match isn't just limited to one person, since there can be multiple people on a "team" casting the match too. It's a simple matter of switching over to the SHOUTcasting team in the game lobby, like how you would switch to a different team in general.
You don't have to SHOUTcast a live match either, as you're able to cast a saved theatre match. You can save a match and then cast it later to make yourself look like the most badass of badasses ever.
"This is a game changer for us," David explains. I'm inclined to agree. The eSports scene has been making a steady rise in the videogame world, and Black Ops II's steps into the movement are going to skyrocket that effort. Love it or hate it, eSports is here to stay, and Treyarch is going to start a trend that many other games will surely adopt.
Look out for a video soon where I actually give the SHOUTcasting features a shot. I'll warn you now that I sucked at it, but thankfully pro SHOUTcaster Mike Rufail was there to help me out.
In an industry first, Call of Duty: Black Ops II will let you livestream matches on consoles and PC. On top of that, Treyarch will be providing tools for players to give out play-by-plays much like a sportscaster with the eas...
Aug 14 //
Hamza CTZ Aziz [embed]232701:44618[/embed]
Call of Duty: Black Ops II (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [previewed])Developer: TreyarchPublisher: ActivisionRelease: November 13, 2012
Pick a number between 1 and 10
The Create-a-Class system up to this point has followed a pretty simple formula. You've always had to pick at least one primary, secondary, attachment, lethal, and tactical, and multiple Perks and Streaks to craft your custom character. Well, forget this system completely, as you now have total freedom over what you want to bring in.
The new system is referred to as "Pick 10," and it's exactly what it sounds like. Players are now allocated ten points and have the choice of taking any ten pieces of content they want, each of which takes up an allocation point. For example, you don't have to bring in a secondary gun and can instead use its allocation point on something like an extra attachment for your primary or an extra lethal grenade.
To further drive home what this means, players can literally jump into a game with nothing but a knife and just use all of their allocation points on beefing up their character with Perks. Of course, that's an extreme example, and you'll be relying on pure luck to find a gun on the ground quickly. Still, it's something you could do if you're crazy enough.
Perks are no longer "absolutes"
Perks have also been completely redefined. For starters, Perks only impact the player's traits now, and don't give any enhancements to the weapons -- those have been relegated to the attachments. Pro Perks have been completely killed as well, so now the system is simply a matter of what you get from the start.
Most important of all, Perks aren't "absolutes" anymore, as game design director David Vonderhaar referred to them. The example David gave was the Ghost perk, which in past games would completely hide a player from UAV detection. In Black Ops II, Ghost will hide a player from UAV detection only while they're on the move.
It's crucial to note that what I saw was in alpha state, so some things can and likely will change before release. With that said, here are the Perks that were available during my hands-on time:
Perk 1: Flak Jacket, Ghost, Blind Eye, Hardline, Lightweight
Perk 2: Hardwire, Scavenger, Cold Blooded, Toughness, Fast Hands
Perk 3: Engineer, Dead Silence, Extreme Conditioning, Tactical Mask, Awareness, Dexterity
Greed is good
The Pick 10 system has all your traditional weapon slots for creating your class, but it also adds three new slots called Wild Cards. This feature lets you "break the rules" of the traditional system by allowing you to stack your character like crazy.
There were six Wild Cards that Treyarch showed off, with choices like being able to take a third attachment, an extra lethal, two primary weapons, an additional attachment to add to your secondary, or an extra Perk 1, Perk 2, or Perk 3. Each Wild Card will of course use up one of your allocation points, as will whatever extra ability you take from the Wild Card menu.
Welcome to the grid
Black Ops II simplifies the customization presentation by putting everything right in your face. Before, you'd have to move about multiple sub-menus, which made the process of customizing cumbersome. Now when you select something like the Assault weapons category, a visual carousel comes up that lets you scroll left or right so you can see all of your options.
Not feeling an Assault gun? Then simply press up or down to navigate to the shotguns, machine guns, pistols, rockets, and so forth. It's now very easy and, more importantly, fast to jump to all of the different sections when you want to equip your character.
The system is also about keeping the door always open. Say you've used all ten of your allocation points but you try to pick something else anyway. Rather than graying out all of your options, the game simply shows you your currently equipped items so you can easily swap one out.
Black Ops II's multiplayer is set in the year 2025, which means you get FUTURE GUNS! Here's a list of the weapons I saw, but note that it's not the final list:
Assault: AN-94, M8A1, Type 25, SA-58
Shotguns: M1216, Saiga-12, R-870, MCS
LMG: LSAT, MK 48
Sniper: DSR 50, SVU-AS, Ballista
Lethal: Grenade, Semtex, Axe, Claymore, C4, Bouncing Betty
Tactical: Smoke, Flashbang, Concussion, Shock Charge, EMP
Again, this isn't the final list. One developer told me that the crossbow will be back, much to my delight. Also, notice the lack of Riot Shield? It's been replaced by the Assault Shield, which does the same job but can also be literally planted in the level to provide mobile cover on the fly. It can be picked back up, and it will die off with the player too.
Another new weapon mentioned in the Tactical list is the Shock Charge. It's a stick that you throw to plant into the ground. Once an enemy steps within its proximity, the stick will immobilize the player with an electric shock. It's non-lethal but can kill someone if their health is low enough.
Pimp my gun
There are a lot of fan favorite attachments returning to Black Ops II, but there are also a ton of new ones that take advantage of the 2025 setting. One of my favorites is the "Select Fire" Attachment, which makes the first couple of rounds from your gun fire at a faster rate over the rest of the clip when you hold the trigger down. Players who can feather their triggers will have a real advantage here.
On the more futuristic side, there's the Millimeter Scanner, which is kind of like the evolution of the Heartbeat Scanner. As you look through the sights, a pulse wave is sent out that shows you the silhouette of stationary enemies who are hiding in smoke or are behind a wall. Another one, the Laser Sight, increases hip fire accuracy. Sound familiar? This used to the be the Steady Aim Perk from past games.
Here's the full list of Attachments I saw that work for either all or some weapon types: Reflex, Target Finder, Hybrid Optic, Fast Mag, Fore Grip, Laser Sight, Adjustable Stock, Quickdraw, Millimeter Scope, Grenade Launcher, Select Fire, ACOG, FMJ, Extended Clip, Dual Wield, Tactical Knife, Rapid Fire, Variable Zoom, and Ballistics.
Killstreaks are dead, long live Score Streaks
The old Killstreak system has been kicked to the curb in favor of the new and improved Score Streak. Everything you do nets a certain point value now, which goes towards filling up your Score Streak meter located on the bottom right of your HUD. Reaching a certain point threshold will then unlock one of your three Streak rewards.
David gave a great example where a player grabs a flag (100 points), kills a guy (200 points for a flag kill), and then scores the flag (150 points). With the 450 points accumulated, the player is able to unlock two of his low-level Streak rewards, one that cost 375 points and the other 400 points. That's right, rewards aren't mutually exclusive.
This system is able to better reward offensive and defensive players. One prime example of the defensive reward is with the UAV, as the player who calls it in now earns 25 points for every kill their teammates are able to get thanks to the spot assist. So much for just ignoring the UAVs, eh?
"Using score lets us reward desirable gameplay behavior," David told us. "Tying the reward system directly into score is one of those assumptions we challenged pretty hardcore and said, 'Wow, duh!' There was a real obvious moment where we were like, 'Of course, that makes perfect sense!' We need granularity here, let's use something better than strictly kills or the equivalent of one point."
There's going to be somewhere around 20 Score Streaks rewards, including returning rewards like K9s, Death Machine, and more. Some of the new ones include:
Guardian: A portable microwave turret. It transmits a highly radioactive signal that will cook anyone who gets caught in it for more than a few seconds. It's a crowd-control tool and great to place at doorways. It can't just be straight-up knife destroyed, so you'll need to use a couple of grenades to take it out.
AGR: An AI- or player-controlled mini-tank drone. Like all the drones, you can take control or jump out any number of times while it remains on the field.
MQ-27 Dragonfire: Like the AGR, except it's a quad rotor.
Hellstorm Missile: Like the Predator Drone, but it can also let you disperse a cluster of bombs over a wider area.
Gunships: Standard Gunship, except you can tell the pilot to move to another grid on the map if they can't find a target or are taking fire. This can be done with most of the AI-controlled aerial vehicles, and you are always receiving feedback about what the pilots are doing as well.
Lightning Strike: A jet that strikes at three desired locations on the map as fast as a flash of lightning.
Swarm: A bunch of tiny flying drones that kamikaze attack players and equipment.
War Machine: A bigass grenade launcher.
Early on, I found my perfect Score Streak setup: a combination of the UAV, Lighting Strike, and any of the higher-tier aerial vehicles. UAV and Lightning Strikes were both great ways to quickly stack up the points for whatever heavy reward I had in the line-up. Oh, and keep in mind that the Score Streak meter resets every time you die.
HOW DO YOU GET THE THINGS?!
Black Ops II does not have CoD Points. Instead, you earn an unlock token every time you level up, which can be used on weapons, Perks, equipment, Wild Cards, Score Streaks -- everything, basically. However, while you get to chose what you want to unlock, not everything will be on the table right away.
Content will revealed to you in small bursts every time you accomplish a major rank change, such as going from Lieutenant to Captain. This way, players won't be totally overwhelmed by all the options. Plus, this gives players something to look forward to through their multiplayer career.
"This is a lesson from Black Ops I," David told us. "Something that CoD Points, in my opinion, suffered from. Whereas CoD Points were really awesome, I could just buy everything I wanted by level 33, and I'd start to tap out at that point cause I got what I want."
So yes, this means content is gated by rank changes, of which there are 55 ranks in all. However, there are over 100 pieces of content, which means you won't be able to unlock everything by the time you have to Prestige, of which there are 10 levels of. That said, Prestige-ing will also play a part in unlocking content, and Treyarch will be revealing more on that at a later date, promising that it "will all make sense."
Modes and maps
Treyarch showed off four maps: Aftermath, Turbine, Cargo, and Yemen. Aftermath was set in the ruins of downtown Los Angeles. Turbine felt a little like the Afghanistan map from Modern Warfare 2, though it offered more verticality. Yemen had an urban setting with a nice chokepoint in the middle, perfect for CTF games. Cargo was the most interesting, as the center of the map was always changing due to shipping crates getting placed/removed by a giant crane.
Two of the new modes we got to play were Multi-Team and Hardpoint. Hardpoint was a King of the Hill gametype with a constantly moving hot zone that the player needed to hold and dominate to score points. Multi-Team is the first time that more than two teams can fight each other on a map, up to six teams in all. Plus, Black Ops II supports a max of 18 players in a lobby now.
Additionally, challenges will be back with "a twist," Wager Matches will be back in some form too, custom games will offer further customization features, and the emblem editor will provide new opportunities to offend everyone.
And that's a taste of all the new things Black Ops II's multiplayer will be doing. To say I was stunned by all of these changes is putting it mildly. It's without a doubt a game-changer, not just for the Call of Duty series, but for the first-person shooter genre in general. Now more than ever, you really have total control to create the playstyle that will best fit you.
I had a lot to say here, but believe it or not, that's not all Treyarch had to show off to the press. In an industry first, they're adding the ability to livestream your matches online on PC AND consoles, plus they're even providing the tools for you to SHOUTcast matches right from the game itself. This is a huge addition for not only Black Ops II but for the industry as a whole, and you can learn all about it in our SHOUTcast preview .
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Tara Long Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies (iOS)Developer: Ideaworks Game StudioPublisher: ActivisionReleased: December 1, 2011MSRP: $6.99
As far as mobile adaptations of full retail games go, Black Ops Zombies mirrors its console counterpart closely. The horde-mode style of gameplay, which Activision credits itself with inventing in Call of Duty: World at War, reappears here, as you find yourself faced with increasingly difficult waves of zombies coming from every direction. Each zombie you kill earns money, which can be used to unlock doors, buy weapons, or purchase extra lives or perks at nearby vending machines.
Despite its superficial similarities to the console version, Black Ops Zombies is an iOS game and thus caters to a somewhat different audience. In an effort to appeal to players new and old, Ideaworks has added a few ways to let beginners ease themselves in while still providing some fan service for the seasoned experts. Three difficulty levels ranging from Recruit to Veteran (Veteran’s difficulty is comparable to the console version) are included, along with a helpful Sticky Aim option in the menu. Also included is the option to choose from one of four playable characters, a request specifically made by fans of the series.
When compared to Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies II, Black Ops Zombies is an undeniable improvement. Activision’s primary goal with this game was to make it feel like a "next-gen experience," and the processing power of Apple’s current-gen devices can clearly be seen within. The game runs in a true 3D environment now, giving it the visual boost it lacked before, and the menu system has been fully animated in a slick looking comic-book style art. Along with improved violence effects, there are also a few abilities not present in the last game like crouching, sprinting, and voice chat for 4-player co-op.
As with most first-person shooters on mobile devices, controlling can be tricky, especially in a horde-mode situation where enemies are approaching from every direction. You can swipe the bottom of the screen to turn 90 degrees, but I found the time it took to do this twice was often not long enough to deflect a zombie attack from behind. Backing yourself into a corner is likely the safest option in these cases.
A virtual analog stick on the left of the screen guides your turn, while moving your finger anywhere on the right side of the screen adjusts your aim. Tapping anywhere on the right side of the screen will fire your weapon, and switching weapons is as easy as double tapping. In the bottom right hand corner are a couple extra options for grenades and other special weapons, as well.
As of right now, only the Kino map is available at launch, along with the Dead Ops Arcade mode, which is unlocked by collecting coins hidden within the menu system. It is an exact port of what appeared on the Xbox 360 version of Black Ops, boasting 50 levels and an end-game boss to top it off. Don’t be surprised if you end up preferring the mini-game to the full map, as it's incredibly addictive and can be beaten, unlike the regular maps which are theoretically infinite and will continue to release waves of harder-to-kill enemies until you’re two seconds away from throwing your phone out the window. In a good way, of course.
If you have extra lives and can manage to pick your pride up after that, you may notice the game revives you at the same spot in which you died, right alongside the enemies who killed you. I feel like this is a poor design decision that could’ve easily been restricted to Veteran mode only, yet it is exists even on Recruit and serves no purpose other than to make the game frustratingly difficult at times. As far as the whole package is concerned, I adore the Dead Ops Arcade mode and feel it adds significant value to the $6.99 price tag, but I do wish Activision had waited until they had at least two maps ready to launch with the game, since the Kino map tends to get repetitive after a while. That said, Activision is planning on adding two to three more maps free of charge over the next few months, as well as additional weapons, deeper leaderboards, and scavenger hunts that give you the opportunity to earn extra achievements. When it boils down to it, you will inevitably be disappointed if you purchase this expecting a console-quality experience on a mobile device. If all you’re looking for, however, is some good, old-fashioned zombie shooting fun, then you’ve found it in Black Ops Zombies.
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