Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 multiplayer preview

By Andrew Yoon, Sep 27, 2012 10:00am PDT

Treyarch has finally unveiled everything Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 multiplayer has to offer. In addition to the significantly expanded Combat Training modes, there are two other sets of modes for players to try out. Wager matches from the original Black Ops are now "Party" games: Gun Game, One in the Chamber, Sharpshooter, and Sticks and Stones are "just for fun" experiences that still reward players with XP for playing.

However, the meat of the game lies in the "Core" modes. Here, you'll be able to play Team Deathmatch, Free for All, Domination, Demolition, Kill Confirmed, Hardpoint, Headquarters, Capture the Flag, and Search & Destroy.

Hardpoint is a new mode, giving all teams one objective on the map. It's meant to devolve into "total chaos" as teams try to command a hotly contested point. This mode, along with Team Deathmatch and Kill Confirmed, can be played as "multi-team" 3x3 or 3x4 games. Instead of having two teams of six face each other, you can have three teams of three or four players going head-to-head-to-head.

All these modes can be customized even further, giving players the opportunity to create their own custom game types. For example, you'll be able to add bots, restrict certain content (like certain abilities), and you can even change the game's "Pick 10" feature to any number between 3 and 17.

It's nice having these options, but I have to say that I'm quite fond of the default modes offered in Black Ops 2. The game's "Create a Class" mode is terrific, as it lets you customize your character to fully embrace your play style. Through the "Pick 10" system, you'll be able to take any ten pieces of content to make a custom loadout. For example, you could have two attachments to your primary weapon in lieu of a secondary weapon; you could have two grenades instead of having three perks, etc.

I discovered that my preferred class had a shotgun equipped, with two attachments that improve accuracy when firing from the hip and when looking down the sights. With a "Wildcard," I was able to select two level 3 perks (instead of the usual one), giving me the ability to move around silently and run for longer periods of time. Sure, I had to sacrifice an attachment for my secondary weapon--but it was worth it to become a fast, silent, shotgun-toting assassin.

Playing a "multi-team" 3x4 game of Kill Confirmed was the highlight of my visit to Treyarch. I love how Kill Confirmed encourages you to actively move around the environment to engage your enemy and work as a team to make sure you are collecting tags whenever opponents (or teammates) fall. Being in a smaller team against two opposing teams also ratchets up the tension quite a bit.

If I were signed into my Xbox Live profile, I would've hit the "bookmark" button after that match. I was proud of how our team dominated, and by bookmarking this match, I would've been able to revisit it in the game's theater mode. There, I could've let the game create a "Highlight Reel" automatically.

While I had a great time playing Black Ops 2 multiplayer, it's clear that many of the tweaks made to this year's game are just that--tweaks. The core gameplay has still remained the same, and replacing kill streaks with score streaks isn't really the most profound innovation. (It is still much-appreciated, as it rewards being a team player.) One of the new maps I played "Express" also has a moving train that speeds through it occasionally, introducing an environmental hazard players should be mindful of. It's a nice twist, but also not particularly game-changing.

Given Treyarch's long history with the franchise, it should be no surprise that Black Ops 2 multiplayer feels incredibly refined. The changes made to this year's game are all welcome additions, even if they'll do little to sway cynics and lapsed fans. It's more Call of Duty done right, and fans will undoubtedly be sated.

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