It took my husband, Lee, forever to get me to pick it up. “Just one game, babe” or “It is two-player, you know? And we can play zombies” were just a few of the pleas he had issued in an attempt to pull me from my solo offline-only play comfort zone until I couldn’t take it anymore. With an “okay fine, one game, and you never ask me again,” I finally agreed to play. I was not enthusiastic nor expecting to find love, but I was proven so, so very wrong. He started COD Black Ops 2, and as the load screen popped up, I thought to myself, you will die quickly, so there is no reason to worry. It will all be over soon. As expected, I found multiplayer to be a frustrating and overly challenging experience, especially when you consider all the hacking that was so constant in some of the older titles. Anti-cheat, while in the works, was a flawed and almost useless feature on most online games at this point. With tech evolution surpassing itself almost daily, it was a complicated process to keep tabs on well enough to be effective. Then add the “You will get it, don’t get frustrated” advice (so very frustrating, ya’ll, and nobody wants it, lol). I was ready to throw him and the console in the trash can, but then he changed my life. He loaded up Zombies, which I admit I found equally as hard. But being NPC zombies vs. a human player, I found a rage at being killed and the need to go back and avenge myself, over and over and over. The addiction was being established, and this game will forever be the most special of any to me. So let’s visit 5 of my biggest reasons to rank this game #1 almost a full decade after its release, with its 20-year anniversary on November 12th, 2022.
1.) The Campaign
Usually, I find most war game campaigns to be droll, repetitive, and lacking any real point of emotional focus to become invested in the story’s content. Instead of some huge motivation, it is a lot of covert talk and randomly thrown missions. Black Ops 2, however, proved different. Watching it before playing it myself, I was as dedicated to it as any TV series. With a story that included murder, betrayal, fast-paced action, and characters like the ever-loved hero Woods and the possibly, even more beloved villain Menendez, it was a perfectly told tale (which I will not spoil) that was not only well-rounded but really made you see the story from multiple sides instead of the just the glory-seeking heroes. It has all the things a good tale needs, and I applaud it to this day!
2.) The Graphic Improvements
Now, Call of Duty can safely be placed in the top 5 games that always have focused on realism and detail. With years of research in both military weaponry and war zones across the globe, they have never failed to provide a visual or technical improvement. Black Ops 2 showed a massive step toward the almost life-like images we now see in more current installations. Clean weapon designs, fixes to floating and bobbing that had been so hard to deal with in Black Ops, and the characters that were more akin to Shrek animation than the previously standard blocky figures and movements. Detailed maps such as High Rise, and Buried, with Easter Eggs galore.
3.) The Bank and Locker System
Introduced– and sadly– exclusive to Black Ops 2, the bank system was a fantastic feature that should have been maintained throughout the series, along with the storage lockers. I was devastated to see it was never included in another installment after. (Please note all references are to original releases and I do not know if it applies to any remastered releases of our current systems.) Banks were available for the player to store cash that would be saved even after the current playthrough had ended. The locker would allow one weapon to be saved even after play had ended. The downside of the locker was not all weapons would convert, so occasionally, when pulling a weapon from the box, it would be morphed into the closest weapon in the same class instead of the one you had saved. A small sacrifice to have almost immediate access to a pack-a-punch gun in starting levels. Both features would be absent in future installations.
4.) The Introduction of Turned
For the first time, a player could see the zombie universe from the side of the enemy. Players would battle against one another, with one starting as infected and the others human, playing a demonic version of tag throughout the turned map. The zombie can see humans through walls, run fast, and scratch with deadly efficiency. As soon as they manage to catch an unwary human, they turn, and the zombie player becomes human, and the new round begins. Both humans and zombies get magic items such as nukes for humans or full power enhancers for zombies. The zombie player is still subject to distraction and death by a cymbal-banging monkey. The zombie player is unable to be silent, with the character issuing trademark COD zombie sounds the whole way, making it a little harder on the zombie than the humans. However, this mode had reached such popularity that Warzone recently had an entire event dedicated to it.
5.) BURIED- THE BEST MAP EVER TO EXIST, COME AT ME, BRO!
This map had so many firsts and some lasts that should have never gone away. The bank and locker have such accessibility that as long as one knows how to walk a zombie (or use Leroy, who will be covered in a moment), they can easily use both. The small western town (tourist attraction?) is home to the Lady of the Mansion, a ghost who haunts the halls of a large dilapidated mansion at the map’s farthest corner and drops a random perk each time you exit the mansion and defeat her. Leroy is a big alcohol and candy-loving sweety pie and can be utilized for several reasons, including building traps for you to obtain all the parts himself or even babysitting crawler zombies. This map would also introduce the vulture perk, which would be utilized in several different forms throughout several installments. And allowed the player to see through walls outlining any chest, enemies, or items of interest. Yet these are only a few of the amazing things you can find on this map specifically. If played correctly, a player can fully pack a punch with all three weapons if one has mule kick and is fully perked by round 15. I can only recommend that if you have not tried it, you do so as soon as possible it is arguably one of the best creations to come out of the call of duty franchise.
Thank you for joining me for another stroll down memory lane. Join us next week as we continue COD appreciation in anticipation of the MW2 release later this month! Please take some time to check out other authors on our team and their amazing contributions! As always, see you again soon!