While everyone was awed during the presentation for Call of Duty: Black Ops II at Microsoft’s Pre-E3 conference, there was much more to be seen behind closed doors at Activision’s booth. At first we were simply shown the same level of the game which was demonstrated at the Microsoft press conference, involving Row Menendez’s assault on the city using the United States’ own robotic weaponry and drones. We were told that this level would occur two-thirds of the way through the title, so it is obvious that there will be quite a bit of build-up to these fast paced scenes. Now for the most part this playthrough went nearly the exact same, however a few extra pieces of information were shown.
During the place where the player had to start sniping enemies to provide covering fire for the female president, I caught a glimpse of a rappel option as well, meaning players may be able to make a few small choices during missions, slightly altering the path which they were able to take. Now this sniper rifle was shown firing slowly during the presentation, however for us the demoer was able to use the sniper rifle in a semi-automatic fashion, blasting through walls and dealing out death to any enemies in the vicinity. Now where the demo during the Microsoft presentation skipped ahead, our demo didn’t.
We followed the player as they entered into an armored vehicle and began following the caravan with the president, that is until he was t-boned by a semi-truck driven by the enemy. To make matters worse, the enemies brought along hacked CLAWs, which are small, four-legged drones with armored exteriors who need either explosions or charged sniper fire to damage. After taking out these drones with a combination of rocket launchers and sniper fire, he reached the area where the demo picked back up, with the control of the quadrocopter drones which are guided by the Data Glove to fire on targets taking cover.
The playthrough consisted of the same footage shown during the conference, including the player jumping into the jet and providing covering fire for the president’s caravan. However rather than ending in the middle of aerial combat, we found ourselves seeing some minor dogfighting as the player flew after the enemy drones and shot them down with chain guns and Sky Buster Missiles which were basically homing missiles. The single player demo ended after the player ejected out of his plane to crash it into the final enemy drone in a spectacular explosion.
After this relatively samey presentation, we were shown a brand new feature which would be the first of its kind in the Call of Duty franchise, Strike Force missions. These Strike Force missions occur outside of the main story arc but being successful in these missions can provide various bonuses which may make the game easier in the future. Interestingly enough, rather than allowing players to constantly retry the missions upon death, failure is quite permanent. Though these levels can be replayed to try and gain a better score or faster completion time, the final result will always be saved after the first completion, meaning that a failure can only be rectified by a complete re-playthrough.
Now the Strike Force mission we were shown was called Overwatch and consisted mostly of capturing various locations on the map with the player’s forces. Interestingly enough, rather than simply playing one soldier in a squad, gamers will actually be in charge of commanding the entire battlefield, including various squads of soldiers, ground-drones, aerial drones and more. This means that players can simply jump into a soldier, take the battle to enemy soldiers and try to micromanage that team. Players can even jump into various machinery such as their own CLAW or other drone to try and swing the battle in their favor.
Players in this mode can pull out of the battlefield and see where all of their team and the enemy computer team is located on the field, allowing for complete battlefield command, including the ability to set waypoints down for machinery and soldiers to travel to. This overhead mode also displays the health of various members of your force, allowing players to micromanage units in danger and provide back-up.
Now not much was said about what other types of stages players will be able to experience in Strike Force. However it was said that players will unlock these missions as they make their way through the single-player experience. We tried inquiring about a possible co-operative Strike Force inclusion, but the team would not say anything more at the time of presentation. This mode seemed to provide a breath of fresh air by providing some new gameplay elements we have never seen from the franchise so far. So what do you think about this RTS-like inclusion to Black Ops II?