If you haven’t seen the Black Ops 2 trailer yet, watch it—it’s amazing. We’re guessing if you’re here though you’ve already checked out the footage of the remote control drones attacking Los Angeles from above. What you probably haven’t seen however is the ten minutes of gameplay footage which Activision showed off at a pre-E3 event. The demo takes us in close to the carnage and shows gives us a preview of the action.
The protagonist of the game is Dave Mason, the son of Alex Mason, who you should remember from the first Black Ops game. As the player, you take on the role of Dave Mason in the single-player campaign. The footage from the pre-E3 event shows Mason riding alongside the president in Los Angeles while drones try to take her out. After a helicopter crashes, everyone finds themselves on foot fighting both the attack drones and a team of adversarial soldiers on foot. The drones and soldiers were sent by antagonist Raul Menendez, who has seized control of the drones from the US military by hacking their remote controls systems. The reason? We’re still not sure. From everything Activision and Treyarch have said, however, the villain has complex motives which won’t be entirely unrelatable. He’s also being penned by Hollywood heavyweight David S. Goyer, who co-wrote the character of the Joker in blockbuster hit The Dark Knight.
What were some of the memorable moments in the demo? One which stands out is a sequence in which Mason was riding in a turret and using heat-seeking missiles to destroy drones. Unfortunately the turret’s route included a devastated freeway pass. As the turret went plunging off the edge, Mason had to jump out at the last minute in order to survive. We also were introduced to several other vehicles during the demo. At one point Mason drove across a collapsing overpass in a semi while other vehicles blew up around him. Mason also was thrown out of this vehicle and back into the ground fray—the environment in this game is going to play just a big a role in the action as the enemy units! Another vehicle we were introduced to was a large robotic walker. The walkers need to be downed by disabling their legs first before you can finish them off.
The most exciting vehicle featured in the demo was probably the jet. The jet introduced an element of dogfighting and took the game out of its two-dimensional grid and into a third dimension of height (Mason had to evacuate from the jet as well when it collided in midair with an attack drone).
Another very cool addition is the brand new Strike Force mode. This is a mission which includes a set of objectives. If you’ve heard about the branching storylines in Black Ops 2, this is one way in which those come into play. If you fail a Strike Force mode mission, you keep going in the game with the consequences affecting you the rest of the way. You don’t have to succeed at the mission to press on as you did in the past. Naturally, if you succeed, you’ll have more advantages to your side. If you fail, you make it more likely you’ll fail the entire campaign. Of course, you can always play it over and come out on top.
How does Strike Force mode work? With this mode, you are given an overhead map which you can use to track down targets and keep tabs on your allies. You can then switch to the view of any soldier on the field or any vehicle or drone. While using any of these perspectives, you can play that character or control that vehicle or drone. You must strategically use each of the units to mark objectives, switching from view to view as you choose. Once you’ve marked all the enemy objectives, you can then call in an air strike to take them out. If you are strategic about what you’re doing, you can use all the units on the map to accomplish your objective. If you don’t do well, however, you’ll find units being killed off while you’re switched out of their point of view and you could very well blow the mission (pun intended). Every time you use a particular unit, you can take advantage of that unit’s strengths and assets, but every time you’re switched away from a particular unit, you risk that unit being taken out.
Finally, we didn’t see this in the demo, but we do know for sure now that the zombies mode in Black Ops 2 is going to be a full on mode and not just a minigame, and that this time it’s going to include multiple game types. There’s lots to be excited about!