By the time you read this, Black Ops 2 - or BLOPS 2, as some are calling it - will be on the shelves.
It’s the only game on this list I haven’t played yet – I had a chance to try it at Games12, but I have a moral objection to using my press pass to push into a queue ahead of dedicated fans who’ve been waiting in line for hours. And I didn’t have the time to spend hours queueing myself.
And so all I can do is assemble what we know about the game. There’s been a lot of secrecy in the build-up to the launch, but this close we do have a good deal of clear information.
The first thing we know is that it will be one of the biggest selling games of the season, most likely the outright top seller.
It’s got two interconnected storylines, one running through the Cold War of the ‘70s and ‘80s, the other in an apocalyptic war in 2025. Black Ops’ protagonist Alex Mason will be the hero in the Cold War storyline. His son David mason will feature in the future war.
Developers Treyarch brought in a future war expert from the Brookings Institute think-tank to help them create the battleground of the future, and the background for the war. China is the US’ enemy, and oil is history – instead, the two superpowers are battling for control of rare earth elements, of which China has an abundance.
The main storyline will feature a villain who Treyarch claim will become a game icon – a bad guy who sees himself as a hero. And there are hints that he may well be – which means it’s possible we’ll be playing the real villains.
Alongside the main storyline are sandbox-style Strike Force missions, which add a strategic element to play, giving you the option of using drones to gain a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield and command your troops, somewhat like Activision’s old Battlezone: Combat Commander. Failing Strike Force missions won’t end them – you can continue to aim for secondary objectives – but will affect the ongoing campaign. Multiple endings and branching storylines? In a shooter?
Then there are the multiplayer modes. The maps got leaked to YouTube, and Activision have revealed that updates to the game engine will allow three or more player teams to fight each other, which adds a whole new dimension to deathmatches.
We’ve all heard Activision’s claim that Black Ops 2 is set to change the face of first-person shooters forever. Hyperbole? Maybe not.