Do we like Black Ops 2’s futuristic direction?
When I think man versus machines I automatically think of the James Cameron Terminator movies rather than military escapades featuring futuristic special forces, but then again those iconic movies have a lot to answer for in today’s gaming – ignoring the rather dire video game based on Salvation. Treyarch’s original masterpiece told of Soviet comrades, ghostly apparitions and a lead character losing his mind to his own self belief. It was perhaps an unlikely story in reality but made for some swift and cutting storytelling that was actually fairly gratifying to watch and play through. So,Black Ops 2 comes into the fray offering a completely different scenario from the Cold War themes of the original.
This time the premise is set in the near future of 2025 and for a bit of continuity features Frank Woods (now retired) who you fought alongside in Black Ops. The future picture is of unmanned craft which are used to wage war against the opposition, in a time when human life is more sanctified. There’s a bit of that in today’s warfare, and the theme of unmanned drones or craft is not the work of fiction a la James Cameron, but real tangible approaches to modern warfare. Obviously, the vision in Black Ops 2 paints a far more advanced picture than what we have today with its robots etc., but some of the possibilities are plausible. What’s perhaps the most intriguing aspect of what Black Ops 2 presents is the unnerving idea that if unmanned craft are controlled remotely using computers, designed by computers and developed using computers, then these could be hacked into by the enemy and therefore used against those controlling them. An interesting idea and one that is dissimilar to James Cameron’s ideology of computers becoming self aware and fighting mankind. However, the presentation looks and feels similar. It’s man in his purest form, fighting against machines, and what’s perhaps the most poignant image from the trailer is the scene where men are riding on horseback set against a sandy backdrop and the aforementioned machines in flight above. Whilst there’s no idea who the men on horseback are or whether they are the good or bad guys, the imagery presents something of a paradoxical influence in that it’s a scene reminiscent of the old wild west but drenched in the futurism the game purports – a bit like the recent movie Cowboys and Aliens.
So, with the senses overloaded with information, Black Ops 2 is no doubt going to offer an interesting story, but what has to be pondered is how well the future setting, those mechs, and the idea of unmanned machines will resonate with today’s gamers? I think many can be quite dismissive of the Call of Duty stories, being mostly in it for the multiplayer offering, and considering the brevity,scripted nature of past games it’s easy to see why. However, Black Ops 2 is likely to take players to new heights – or lows – that have never been seen before in a Call of Duty game, and whilst many predicted this future scenario many years ago – perhaps more as a wanton desire – the fact it’s actually very real and coming this year means some people’s wishes of a more flexible series has come to fruition.
I think it’s an interesting difference and something well distanced from the series’ WWII roots, but not so much that it delves into complete science fiction a la Halo. In this regard Black Ops 2 makes for a welcome and enticing prospect that is bound to garner the interest from fans simply due to the high expectations from the name, but also a bit of trust knowing that Treyarch have delivered quality experiences in the past within COD’s parameters. Black Ops 2 looks to be quite the different game from its forbears, but no doubt using familiar mechanics, and thus, makes it something to be well interested in pre release.