Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 PC Review: Missed Opportunities

But RTS was built for PC, and yet we’re stuck with what might be the worst control scheme ever for Strike Force. Each set of units gets a number key dedicated to it, and you can’t switch between units by clicking them — only by hitting the corresponding number key. Here’s the really awful part, however: The assignment of number keys is mucked up by the few things you need to be able to do, like throw alternate grenades, when controlling on-the-ground elements. So one group of soldiers will get the 5 key to control it, for example, while a turret will have the 1 key and another squad will have the 3 key. There’s little rhyme or reason to the assignments — they don’t even flow in numerical order from left to right on your screen. And Treyarch chose to use the 4 key as the button that assigns orders. You know, the key right in the middle of your unit selection keys. As you can imagine, all manner of unnecessary chaos ensues.

Controlling Strike Force is a joke on PC. It’s actively the opposite of fun, in fact, and there’s really no excuse for it, given that Treyarch went out of its way to allow players a fair amount of graphical control in the game’s main menu, and also encrypted its configuration files to prevent users from tweaking them. Obviously, the developer paid at least some attention to its PC version, and the result isn’t terrible. So why did it not even bother to make Strike Force serviceable on this platform?

It might seem like something minor to focus on, given that there are only five Strike Force missions, but the mode is clearly meant to be one of the stand-out points of this iteration of Call of Duty. We’re supposed to go, “Oooo, look — they’re innovating! It’s not just the same game we bought exactly one year ago!” But for such a great idea, Strike Force is something of a disaster on PC, and that’s to say nothing of the fact that it lacks the polish of the rest of the game. As on the Xbox 360 version, the mode is marred by bugs that prevent AI characters from responding to orders and result in irritating fights and manual movement of assets into position.

Of course, the rest of Black Ops 2 is much more serviceable, although I got the distinct impression throughout my time with the PC version that it ran distinctly worse than the Xbox edition. Even with graphical settings scraping the bottom of the barrel, with new drivers installed and everything I could do to squeeze performance out of my machine, I still had framerate issues in all three modes of the game. The campaign struggles with a few strange bugs, like enemies spawning right in front of you and horses falling through the terrain. My connection to the CoD servers occasionally seemed a bit tenuous.

But when it comes to multiplayer, Treyarch has managed to compensate for the game’s other flaws. As usual, even if it is pretty similar to what we’ve been playing for quite a while now, the Call of Duty multiplayer in Black Ops 2 is really strong. There might be some framerate troubles related to iron-sights aiming and depth of field, but for the most part, the game ran the best in multiplayer, and handles very well. The solid Zombies mode also performs pretty admirably, at least for the most part.

However, this is a case when it seems the console version is a better investment for the average player than its PC counterpart. If you’ve got a rig that can handle high graphical settings or have an absolute affinity for mouse and keyboard, you can certainly do worse than Black Ops 2 — it’s still a very functional game that can be a lot of fun to play, especially for the biggest fans of the series. Just be aware that the experience fails to really take advantage of the PC, and feels generally weaker than its other editions. You do get those FOV controls, though.

Pros:

  • Fun, fast-paced multiplayer that continues to work very well
  • Treyarch has invested in making sure players have lots of graphical control
  • Zombies mode is a lot of fun and seems well-polished
  • All the pluses from the last review are (mostly) still there

Cons:

  • Strike Force controls are completely nonsensical; whole mode is a huge missed opportunity
  • Some framerate issues, minor bugs
  • All the minuses from the last review are (mostly) still there, as well

Final Score: 70/100


Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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2 Comments on Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 PC Review: Missed Opportunities

Derek

On November 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Yep. Pretty crappy console port. Typical lack of caring about the great game play opportunities to be hand on the superior platform. I’ve bought every call of duty on PC since the original modern modern warfare, and have disliked every once since. I chose not to buy black ops 2.

Especially since i’m having so much fun with planetside 2 and natural selection 2. Not to mention Hawken looks great.

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