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Call of Duty: Black Ops II  

Black Ops II: answering critics, ignoring competition

1:00 PM on 06.12.2012
Black Ops II: answering critics, ignoring competition photo

It could be fair to say that Call of Duty, as a franchise, has a large target painted on its back. There's been a very real backlash from the hardcore gamer community in recent months, as the series' popularity and installment frequency has led to a marked souring of opinions. Call of Duty is regarded, by some, as the epitome of everything that's wrong with modern gaming. 

From within the industry, would-be rivals are gunning for the shooter's position. For the past few years, Electronic Arts has attempted to snipe the crown from COD's head and position itself as the publisher of the dominant first-person shooter in the market. It's not been shy about its intention, and it's not been afraid to take any potshot it can at the competition. 

How does Treyarch feel about the detractors? Suffice it to say that studio boss Mark Lamia is not deaf to the outcry, but he has a positive view of the situation, and he remains confident that former fans of Call of Duty may come back to the fold with Black Ops II.

"First off, if you're making a Call of Duty game, you better have a lot of strength in your conviction," confessed Mark. "There are a lot of voices out there, I think it comes with the territory. I do try to listen to as much of it as I can, but you have to believe in what you're creating. 

"There are so many people that love this game, and there are its critics, and I do actually try to pay attention to the critics -- not because I'm necessarily going to do what they tell me, but because oftentimes it's symptomatic of something I might want to pay attention to. If somebody says, 'I don't play COD's campaign anymore,' I want to know why that is. It tells me at one point that they did, that they really enjoyed it. I try to glean what I can from the criticism.

"Sometimes it's really well articulated and sometimes it takes a little more [to try and understand], but everyone's got an opinion, and that's fine. It's art and it's entertainment. It's mature-rated, sixty dollar content, so it's not like it's easily gotten to. You have to opt in to get it, and if people don't want it, they can voice their opinions, and we know there's a lot of people that do."

For those yet to form their opinion, remaining on the fence, Lamia reiterated his belief that Black Ops II will provide the fresh take on the series that fans have been waiting for. 

"If you liked or like Call of Duty but are looking for a team to mix up the formula and bring new stuff, that's been very important to us, it's something we're trying to do with this game. If you are looking for a new fresh take on Call of Duty, that's what we're doing. We're doing it not just in the campaign -- we're doing it in the multiplayer, and Zombies has [always] been pretty different, but we're opening that up. We're adding new game modes, so there's going to be some versus modes, it's going to be a bigger world. We're going for that on pretty much every front.

"So for those guys who are critics of Call of Duty, I think they'll be pleasantly surprised by what we're putting on the table, and if you're a fan Call of Duty, it's great because there's enough of what you love here but there's going to be a lot of great new stuff that we're trying to push the franchise forward."

Before E3 kicked off, Electronic Arts began what seems to be a yearly tradition of comparing its games to Call of Duty in an attempt to stoke some rivalry. EA is positioning Medal of Honor: Warfighter as the "only" military first-person shooter worth getting this year, and while it is not Treyarch's policy to get involved in a fight, Lamia did touch upon the comparisons, adding that he doesn't really take much stock in the attempts to compare opposing titles. 

"Look, I don't think anyone's going to mistake our game for their game," he nonchalantly declared. "If you've seen the campaigns, we're doing something different. I'm making an entertainment experience, I think they're going for something different over there. Ours is a first-person shooter with military themes in it, and also a lot of other themes that we're spent a lot of time working on and developing, so it's a different game and I don't think anybody will confuse those two games when they come out, aside from some settings.

"Then there's our multiplayer. I don't think anybody will be confusing that either, and I don't think anybody's going to be mistaking Zombies with anything else. Now I play all those games, and just because something's a first-person shooter and might have a similar theme, are they really the same game? I think gamers know the difference. They provide different emotional experiences. That team's going for a different creative expression."

They say it's lonely at the top, and there's no denying that, for all its criticism, Call of Duty is still at the head of the pile. Lonely, perhaps, but quite confident that it still has what it takes. I'm eager to see whether Black Ops II can truly revitalize the series the way Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare did when the first-person shooter genre was in a real lull. I hope it does, because a good game is always nice, no matter what franchise name may be attached.

What's the point? Wii U gets Black Ops II map almost two years later photo

Former Panamanian dictator sues Activision over portrayal in Black Ops II photo

Call of Duty: Black Ops II's final DLC is 'Apocalypse' photo

Black Ops II 'Origins' trailer shows off giant robot photo

Vengeance comes to Black Ops II on PS3 and PC next month photo

Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Vengeance photo

Black Ops II kicks off another Double XP weekend photo

Black Ops II nails down July release for Vengeance DLC photo

Black Ops II's multiplayer is free on Steam this weekend photo

Call of Duty to host a Double Weapon XP weekend photo

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Updates, Screenshots, & Videos

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Call of Duty: Black Ops II

1:30 PM on 08.08.2014
What's the point? Wii U gets Black Ops II map almost two years later

The Wii U often gets the shaft in terms of DLC. It either gets it late, not at all, or is left completely in the wind as to what the status is. Nearly every major publisher has pulled one of these moves, most notably Activisi...more

11:45 AM on 07.16.2014
Former Panamanian dictator sues Activision over portrayal in Black Ops II

The videogames industry has seen its share of legal actions lately, but the most recent one comes from an unlikely source. Manuel Noriega, the dictator of Panama until 1989, has filed a lawsuit against Activision for appropri...more

12:45 PM on 08.08.2013
Call of Duty: Black Ops II's final DLC is 'Apocalypse'

It's been a decent run for Call of Duty: Black Ops II's DLC, but all things must come to and end and the end is nigh. It's only fitting that Treyarch's fourth and final pack for the game is called Apocalypse. Releasing first ...more

4:30 PM on 08.07.2013
Black Ops II 'Origins' trailer shows off giant robot

We know this trailer is for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, but that's about it. Featuring the phrase "Every story has a beginning...and an end," the video seems to hint at a new Zombies map with a giant killer robot for reasons...more

4:00 AM on 07.11.2013
Vengeance comes to Black Ops II on PS3 and PC next month

Call of Duty: Black Ops II owners on the Xbox 360 have had access to the Vengeance expansion for a couple of weeks now. So what about PlayStation 3 and PC players? Your vengeance will be had starting on August 1. The expansio...more

5:00 PM on 07.03.2013
Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Vengeance

If you're keeping score, Call of Duty: Black Ops II has offered up one so-so and one stellar map pack so far -- and now, we're on part three of the four-piece Season Pass, Vengeance. In typical Treyarch fashion, four maps are...more

4:00 PM on 06.26.2013
Black Ops II kicks off another Double XP weekend

For those of you who still play Call of Duty: Black Ops II, you'll want to boot up your system of choice this weekend for a Double XP event, starting Friday June 28th at 10AM Pacific, all the way through the morning of Monday...more

6:30 PM on 06.18.2013
Black Ops II nails down July release for Vengeance DLC

Following Revolution and Uprising, Call of Duty: Black Ops II will get its third downloadable content pack starting July 2, 2013 on Xbox 360. Priced at $15 (1200 Microsoft Points) without a Season Pass, this add-on has anoth...more

11:00 PM on 05.09.2013
Black Ops II's multiplayer is free on Steam this weekend

There's a little special on Call of Duty: Black Ops II over on Steam where you can play the multiplayer component for free all weekend long. Yup, you have full access and not only that, the game is 33% off on Steam right now....more

11:15 AM on 04.19.2013
Call of Duty to host a Double Weapon XP weekend

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