667 of 893 people found the following review helpful
A thoughtful negative review,
This review is from: Call of Duty: Black Ops II - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
Most negative reviews can either turn into too much of a rant or become so general that they are unhelpful (ie: this game sucks!). I am going to attempt to write an intelligent and helpful review that will be almost entirely negative because of the flaws and problems I see in this game that are central to the experience of the player. My review will focus entirely on multiplayer since that is all I have played and, if we are honest, it is why almost the entire community purchases the game at this point.
Now, to earn a little clout with those reading this review, I have been playing Call of Duty since the very first title released for PC back in 2003. I have played every single release since. I made the change from PC to XBOX when World at War came out. My experience with World at War was challenging because I no longer had my mouse and keyboard. After a few months of playing World at War I got my groove and have had a good experience with every release so far. Up until the release of Black Ops 2, I enjoyed World at War the most with MW2 and MW3 coming in second place. The first Black Ops suffered from poor spawns and irritating lag compensation, but it was still somewhat enjoyable to play. Also, keep in mind that for MW2, MW3, and even the first Black Ops I had a steady k/d of about 1.20 and a good win ratio, ranging from 5.00 to as high as 9.25 on MW3. So, needless to say, I became an above average player that won quite a bit more than I lost. My k/d was never very high because I preferred objective game modes over camping in team death match. This is why my win ratio is high and my k/d is average.
Fast forward to today. Black Ops 2. Where to begin?
First, lets start with the look of the game. The movement, frames per second, and textures are, in my opinion, a step up from the previous Black Ops. It seems smoother and brighter, and the HUD as well as guns look better. This is just my opinion, but I do think most people would agree there is a smoothness to the game that feels nice in comparison to the first Black Ops. Now, this is about as much as I can say that will be positive about the game. I also really like the new class building system of 10 slots for whatever you want and think it's a huge step forward for multiplayer, and I hope future COD titles include it. You want 4 perks instead of 3? Go for it!
Second, lets talk about the overall feel of the game. At first, the smooth frames per second and better aesthetic made me think the game was going to run better than the first Black Ops. I quickly discovered I wasn't just wrong, but that it was actually worse than its predecessor. I play with some very skilled players, some that make me look amateurish with their immensely high k/d, and even they have barely been able to maintain even k/d in this game. Why? What's the problem? What's so different about this game versus all the other Call of Duty releases up to this point? Two words: LAG COMPENSATION. Because they have kept an ultimately unhelpful auto kick for team killing in Hardcore you are forced to play Core unless you want to get kicked from games for simple accidents or teammates running into your score streaks. Why am I talking about Core vs Hardcore when I just said the problem was Lag Compensation? Because Core requires a high amount of bullets as well as accuracy to kill efficiently. And when Lag Compensation takes over, you are basically at the mercy of everyone else's connection and will find it very difficult to land a kill.
Essentially, this is how Lag Compensation works: John has a fast connection but Billy doesn't. John's experience is therefore altered to make up for his "advantage", which in turn gives Billy a fair shake. So when John starts to shoot Billy, there is a delay, and Billy has a few extra milliseconds to react. How this plays out when you are in the game is this: You round a corner, have the jump on a guy, start shooting him, and then you drop dead. You watch the killcam, and it turns out you only shot maybe one bullet before dying, not the 3-5 you thought you did. What happened to you was Lag Compensation. The player that killed you probably had a slower connection than you, so he is given a slight advantage. This is why some games you can feel like an unbeatable god, and others you feel like you're playing against wall hacking aim bots because all you do is come around corners and die. For those of us with faster connections, our experience is almost entirely the latter.
Now, there are people who defend Lag Compensation, saying it isn't fair to give an advantage to those with faster connections. While this may be a valid point, it is not a convincing one. Why is it not convincing? Because you are just changing you gets the advantage. And not only that, you are hurting the experience of any player with a good connection. When I played Quake 3 on my crappy old 786 PC with slow internet, I just figured out how to play with my disadvantage, and actually I got quite good. I didn't suddenly expect everyone else to be nerfed or slowed down in order that I could get as many kills as them. Changing who has the advantage in this situation is also unfair because you are going against what every gamer in existence is used to. Players with slow connections know and expect to have a tougher time. And Black Ops 2 should be a safe haven for them right? A great experience? Wrong. All it's doing is making those of us with fast connections stop playing, so the goal posts are just going to get moved. So now the guy with a mediocre connection is suddenly the guy with the best connection, and he is going to start to have a worse experience. In other words, there is always going to be someone with a slower connection and someone with a faster connection. So the experience of all players will be ever changing. There is no consistency, no standard, no constant. This is what makes the game so frustrating to play. You go from having a good experience and feeling like your first 3-4 bullets actually hit, to feeling like a worthless player, shooting blanks, falling to your death around every corner.
The reason I mentioned being "forced" to play Core, is because Hardcore would help with some of this. Because you have to shoot a player so much in Core, Lag Compensation can make it seem impossible to get a kill. If you are on the bad end of Lag Compensation, you will be helpless to change anything. In previous titles, if I was having a bad game, I could make alterations. If I'm not getting the jump on players, I'd switch to an SMG. If I am getting the jump on players but not killing them fast enough I might switch to a high damage AR or maybe the same SMG with rapid fire. I tried all my usual audibles when having a rough time in Black Ops 2, but it doesn't matter. Everyone I play with was saying the same thing, "There is nothing I can do."
Now, before moving on from the topic of Lag Compensation, there is one final thing I'd like to say about it. There is something inherently wrong with altering the experience of a player purely because their internet connection is better. The nature of online gaming has always been one where those with slower connections have to deal with their lot in life. But nobody is actively giving them a disadvantage, it is just the result of varying connection speeds. Actively giving someone an advantage over another player is, in one sense, cheating. And in a even greater sense, it is more unfair than just letting the chips of connection speed fall where they may. Many have said that Lag Compensation is present in all of the COD titles. While I have the "I swore I shot first" experience from time to time in previous titles, it is basically every gun fight in Black Ops 2. So something is dramatically different.
Third, lets talk about spawns. When players start complaining about spawns and getting shot in the back they are usually met with a response like this: "It is very difficult to have consistent spawns with how much people move and change location." Okay, that seems like a fair response, except it's a cop out that hopes to excuse a bad spawn system. If you want proof for how broken the spawn system is, play Nuketown, against Bots, and camp on one side of the map. My buddy and I tested this. It was just me and him versus 6 bots, and we never crossed over to the other side, in fact, we never went past the school bus. And still, without fail, the game would consistently, at random times, spawn a couple enemies behind us. This is why you can get caught in a spawn cycle where, even though you are spawning in different locations on the map, you take a few steps and get shot in the back. This little Nuketown experiment should make it crystal clear to any skeptic that the spawns are poor. Not to mention that almost every map the spawns are incredibly easy to control, and many games turn into "who can spawn trap the other team first". No creative ingenuity has come to the realm of spawning in any of the Call of Duty titles, so this isn't necessarily just a Black Ops 2 problem. However, it is quite frustrating to have the same problems persist in every release.
Now, to conclude this little review. The question has to be asked: How could it be this bad? How could they make a game with so many problems, so many flaws, and so many complaints after having 2 years to make it? The answer is: I honestly don't know. People blame the deadlines, claiming that having to make a game every two years is too short a time to iron out all the bugs. But we aren't talking about bugs and glitches (I haven't even had time to notice them) We are talking about a game that is essentially broken. When a 10 year veteran like myself cannot go positive or equal with k/d in almost every game I've played, then something is wrong. I did not suddenly become a terrible player. All of my 50+ friends that play this game did not suddenly become horrendously bad at this game. They have changed the very core of the gameplay and just like the first Black Ops, have turned many people away. Not because we don't like the maps, the guns, or the gadgets, but because we are defeated before we even start. Our fate is determined not by our strategy, skill, or in-game decisions. It is determined by an arbitrary "compensation" that ultimately decides who will win and who will lose.
And if you read this and think I'm crazy or think all of us who are complaining are off base, think about this... Why do they push so hard to motivate people to pre-order? Why do they push so hard to get you to purchase a season pass for the DLC? Why are they seemingly more concerned with getting your commitment and money prior to any reviews or consumer feedback? Could it be because they know the game is sub par and most people are going to spurn the DLC? Could it be because, just like the new Medal of Honor, negative reviews actually keep people from purchasing?
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Showing 1-10 of 87 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 15, 2012 5:00:13 PM PST
Posted on Nov 15, 2012 6:51:32 PM PST
All of your complaints are valid (I wouldn't pull every star for them but I understand your POV). I would also argue that many of your complaints are easily patchable. So, let's hope that's in the game's future (with better spawning, less compensation, etc). Until then, I suppose Halo 4 is a tighter and more interesting game. The only reason to be so hard on this game, which is also how I felt about MWIII, is how the marketing hype left me expecting so much more. The improved contrast and use of light is a big improvement, but the rest of the game... not so much. For one thing, I was expecting a bit more development in munitions. For another, I was expecting the best ever storyline... but sadly it feels uneven (I still feel like COD 1 had the best storyline of the series but perhaps it was just the newness).
Posted on Nov 16, 2012 10:54:39 AM PST
i liked the last paragraph of your review. to me, the cod franchise has become all about the money in recent years and that's a big reason why i've stayed away this year. they wanna get your money and then leisurely fix the many problems of the game (if they fix anything at all).
Posted on Nov 16, 2012 11:15:40 AM PST
This a great review and explanation of lag comp. I remember the same problem in MW3, but I am pretty sure they fixed it, because I only had that problem early on. It feels a lot worse now, and I think LC coupled with the terrible spawn points equals a really bad experience.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012 11:35:13 AM PST
@A. Ryan--If it's "just a game" why are you taking the time to bash and call someone a loser who decided to take the time and give an honest review? Go look in the mirror.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012 2:01:26 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2012 2:02:41 PM PST
I don't know if Jayden has managed to live a life without regrets but it's unrealistic to expect it of people (or companies). I believe the COD franchise is the best there has ever been (and why they make so much money - that's the theory behind capitalism and I buy it). I'm with C.W. The lag problem originally with MW3 was fixed very quickly (I understand the argument made for lag comp and am not one who believes it is necessarily evil - it was in COD 1 so it's nothing new) but people continued to complain anyway. The network loads may be heavier for BO 2 specifically because so much more is going on. I don't believe it's a good reason to rate the game only 1-star but I do believe it's a good argument to put off purchasing. I also feel one of the reasons that Lucas correctly describes feeling like the point of the game is simply about how fast you can deliver a mess of bullets is because it's so much easier to see everyone that's it's much harder to hide (and if you can see them, they can see you - ha ha). Bottom line, this game is NOT broken. It is easy to produce a positive kill ratio. Moreover, the best way to "fix" the lag problem is to buy a PC and only play server based games. A console will always have this problem (and why some people argue all console games are "broken").
Posted on Nov 17, 2012 4:11:13 PM PST
J. Killion says:
@TucsonShopper I highly disagree, I am a hardcore FPS person especially when it comes to online play. Im not sure if you've actually played the game or if you have even experienced LC. While it is simple to get a K/D over a 1.0 for veterans of the genre its a step down. Once again a COD with small maps fit for FFA rather than TDM. The SMG is pretty much the weapon to have in every match unless the you are playing on 1 of 3 bigger maps on the game. Bad spawns and bad judgement in host choosing just adds to the monotony. Until an update is released to fix these major issues Halo 4 is the better choice in online play.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2012 7:33:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 17, 2012 7:40:16 PM PST
"Until an update is released to fix these major issues Halo 4 is the better choice in online play"
I would basically agree and said as much. I was just additionally implying that if Halo 4 wasn't out, COD BO II would be the one to play.
"The SMG is pretty much the weapon to have"
I don't know why you say this or how much COD BO II you played before you gave up and went back to Halo 4, but I don't think the reasons I would agree with you will change when (or if) enhanceable features get updated. Therefore, IMHO this is a very important statement for the review of this game. But then, the AK74u was THE killer gun in BO1. In fact, many "veterans" specifically referenced this gun for what they liked about BO1 when it first came out. The final decision, however, was that it was too good (in one of many fixes to that game). In the end, even if COD BO II is never updated and even if you're not happy about a SMG game and plan therefore to never buy it, I feel it's unfair to call this a 1-star game that's just an attempt to fool people out of their money. There was clearly a lot of effort put into the development of this game as well as there are several new features and interesting twists. I usually prefer to give up my secondary for an extra perk. Developer Robert Sanchez says he kicks butt starting with nothing but a ballistic knife and combat axe and a whopping six perks and picks up guns on the way. You can alternately add three attachments to your primary. There's even an attachment that allows you to see people behind wall without a hack. That's a lot of versatility. I know people who play BO just for the zombies (and BO 2 has a much more versatile perk system here as well).
"It is simple to get a K/D over a 1.0"
My point exactly, veteran Lucas suggested otherwise.
"For veterans of the genre its (sic) a step down"
Veterans have been saying that since COD 4 MW1. I have many friends who refused to play MW3 due to believing it was also a step down (I disagreed then as well). In fact, I have one friend who gave up on COD after 1. I understand the arguments (and agree with the points typically made) but, for example, I am never motivated to play 1 or 4 (and had been playing MW3 a lot more than BO1). Moreover, I know many veterans that likewise feel Halo 4 is a step down from Reach (I don't, but again I understand their points). I think it's just more what you're used to. For me, the biggest letdown was how the campaign plot line is so very disappointing. It was such a good idea that they did so little with, it feels like a crime.
It's funny how most everyone claims they're above average in some way (such as calling themselves veterans) even though statistically that's not possible. Few people have put in more FPS hours than I (almost 1k hours this year) and I wouldn't say COD BO II is a step down. So, your blanket statement about veterans is clearly inaccurate. COD BO 1 was a great game for "veterans" to run around and simply dominate NOOBs. But, if you actually are one of the 1%, saying this game is designed for the 99% and that it is somehow evil for doing so (as Jayden said and you and Lucas seem to be implying), that in itself an evil statement. It's just not for you. I don't like bananas but I don't say they're a step down from oranges.
The points made in this review are accurate and I feel your statement about SMG usage (additionally fed by the sometimes smaller than ideal maps) could be expanded. We just have a different opinion about how that applies to rating the game. I don't know if you've already sold your copy of COD BO II, but I plan on keeping mine. And, I play it. I also look forward to several updates. In conclusion, waiting for Black Friday prices is probably the best way to go. But, it's definitely playable. I don't believe it would be the #1 selling FPS game at Amazon otherwise. A quick Google search shows Eurogamer (with all the same complaints) gives it 4 stars, PC Gamer gives it a 3.5 stars (who feels the "fulsome" multiplayer is its best aspect), TrustedReviews gives it 4-stars (who says "If you don't like online Call of Duty then this won't change your mind, but if you do, then you won't be disappointed"), and Gamespot gives it a 4.4 stars (just under the 4.5 stars it gave BO1) although its members give it 4.5 stars. Amazon reviewers on average give it the lowest rating of 2.9 stars, which I don't feel is fair (forget 1-star). And, it would seem I'm not alone in this opinion (so much for "veterans").
Posted on Nov 18, 2012 12:04:07 AM PST
Cory Wendling says:
Great review, however, go in depth about the storyline also. Many players play it on Vet before going into Multiplayer.. and Vet is a joke now... way to easy. I remember in the very first Call of Duty for xbox, to young to have played Call of Duty on PC, but, that campaign on vet was ridiculous hard, as for COD4 the best in the series in my opinion. (spawning was great, lag was manageable, and overall fun factor was amazing, I had around 30 days played online, mostly with friends from high school. However, as soon as MWF2 came out it lost the "fun factor", spawning was terrible, everyone could run around with an SMG and kill whomever. And Sniping was totally out of the picture, as it was the same for MWF3, and some of BO. NOW in BO2 sniping is nearly impossible with all the corners, doorways etc there are ABSOLUTELY no sniping areas. I'm the one to bitch about campers, however, I miss the sniping aspects of these games. As your last paragraph states you are right, they are to lazy to do anything to improve the game they just want the billions and billions of dollars they suck from us. Overall I'm wouldn't give it a 1 star, but, I do want to see some major improvements in the feature, its just the same games over and over again re-skinned, but at least they can be fun with friends and family and easy obtainable and easy to get into whereas Halo series its harder to get certain types of people to play, whereas Call of Duty, Military style video game its easy to draw in newcomers, and older folks because its not these alien worlds.
Posted on Nov 19, 2012 2:26:27 AM PST
Nile TWO says:
Excellent review. It sounds like not a whole lot has changed. I will stick with the year old bf3 and Halo 4. You are spot on about how you can feel like a god in one match and get dumped on in the next. Thats how I have felt about COD for a while, and its also a large reason why I'm going to stay away from this game.