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Co-Optimized: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

With the reveal of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 just a few days away, this week's Co-Optimized raises the dead with Black Ops 2's exceptionally deep, but over-the-top, zombie mode. Play together and try not to die.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will be officially revealed on Sunday, April 26th, so it's only appropriate that we prepare ourselves by taking a look at the Black Ops 2 and its cooperative mode. Yes, that means the zombies are coming. Although there's a multitude of cooperative zombie survival games out now (seriously, you can hardly take three steps without tripping over the undead), Black Ops continues a tradition that started with World at War in 2008, which released at around the same time as Left 4 Dead. So, it can be seen as being at the start of the zombie survival craze. Although the zombie mode wasn't added until months later as free bonus content, the mode quickly took on an (un)life of its own and a completely separate canon grew out of it.

What started as a fun add-on grew in complexity, even in subsequent World at War patches, and it can almost be considered its own game in Black Ops 2. At its base level, the mode is fairly straightforward: four characters come together and try to survive for as long as possible against waves of zombies that grow increasingly more difficult. Killing zombies earns cash, which is used to purchase new weapons, ammunition, or unlock new parts of the map, including traps. Perks will also drop randomly on the map, which grants special abilities to whoever picks them up. They could spell the difference between being alive and being lunchmeat.

Although guns and ammo are fun, traps are really where it's at. The team has to work together to reach new sections of the map and complete objectives like turning on the power generator, which will in turn enable traps and other fun gadgets to hold off the zombie horde. This is the part where more casual players might start to drop out. Black Ops 2 also continues the long tradition of having players figure everything out for themselves.

Nothing is spelled out, including how to use basic gameplay elements like the Perk-a-Cola machine and how to get wonder weapons. The only ways to get by are through trial and error, looking up solutions online, or playing alongside someone who already knows what to do. For example, the Tranzit map implements a bus that drops and picks up players at various locations. The bus can be upgraded with various improvements like a ladder or ramming bumper, but players aren't given any guidance on how to do it. Many other maps have a similar underlying meta game that coincides with straight survival and defense, but it's up to players to figure out what it is and how to do it. Although there's no time limit for completing tasks, or an official order to things, players should work as quickly as possible to complete certain tasks. Otherwise, the zombie waves may become too difficult to handle.

Despite its difficulty (or maybe because of it), the Black Ops zombie mode still has a very strong appeal and remains one of the primary features of the series. It would be downright shocking of Black Ops 3 did not have a zombie mode, even though it might be difficult to imagine how much further it can go. The first Black Ops game included a DLC scenario where four horror movie actors came together to combat a zombified George Romero. Black Ops 2's "blockbuster movie" scenario is called Mob of the Dead, where a group of gangsters must fight to escape a zombie infested Alcatraz. Not only do the characters once again feature the voices and likeness of actors like Michael Madson and Ray Liotta, but it also mixes things up by introducing a ghost mode. A player must be sacrificed in order to become a ghost, pass through walls, and mess with electrical systems.

Additional Black Ops 2 modes include Turned, where players become zombies and offers a more competitive element. In it, one player is cured and must survive against the other players and zombies. Any player that eats human player becomes cured in turn. But perhaps the most interesting competitive co-op mode is Grief, which is an eight player 4z4 team based struggle for survival. Players are either on the side of the CIA or the CDC, both vying to be the last ones standing during the zombie outbreak. Neither team can directly injure members of the other, although their bullets might stun them. Instead, teams must work to outmaneuver and betray each other by locking doors, blocking passageways, and leading zombies toward opponents. Perks picked up by players benefit the whole team, but not the opposing one. Of course, all eight players could try working together to improve their odds of survival, but what fun is that? The mode declares a winner when one team is wiped out and resets if both teams are killed.

Did I forget to mention that one of the Black Ops 2 DLC maps features a 1,000 foot Nazi robot? Because... yes. A giant robot, ghosts, mobsters and Nazi zombies. When it comes to over-the-top action and fighting the undead, it's tough to beat Black Ops 2.


There's nothing like the thrill of competitive multiplayer, but sometimes it's better to kick back and play alongside your friends and family instead of against them. With Co-Optimized, we highlight and discuss games that are best played together.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 22, 2015 10:15 AM

    Steven Wong posted a new article, Co-Optimized: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

    • reply
      April 22, 2015 10:20 AM

      Back Ops 2 is such a great game.

      I was pretty much anti Call of Duty before BO2 but it really brought me around and I've played all the games since (sometimes to my dismay) but BO2 remains the best in the series for me.

      Really looking forward to the next one.

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