EXCLUSIVE: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Preview
An in-depth and exclusive look at the next Call of Duty game.
Demo level: The Escort
We were then treated to a gameplay demo of one of the game’s missions, which is to escort the President to a safe zone after the city of Los Angeles comes under attack. It was the first time we got to see the game’s updated engine, which showed some beautiful character and level details. After an impressive in-game cutscene, the action began with our squad landing near a broken bridge. We were then given the choice of staying up on top of the bridge to give cover fire for the rest of the team, or rappel down with them. We opted so stay on top of the bridge, so by equipping a sniper rifle we were able to quick pick off incoming enemies. Once the area was clear, Mason rappelled down and joined the rest of the team behind cover. Sprinting forward, he climbed into the back of an abandoned truck and used the mounted turret to quickly dispose of some pesky drones flying overhead. The team then got into another truck and the action changed to a fast-paced driving sequence. This was also a great opportunity for the game’s engine to show off some of the new physics and details that have gone into the models, with whole bridges and freeways crumbling realistically as we drove past.
The next phase of our mission was to get the President to an awaiting aircraft, which again was proving to be quite difficult. Mason’s task was to clear out a nearby building so the team could move to higher ground. Here we saw how technology would assist the player in the game – two quadrocopters armed with assault weaponry hovered close to Mason, and he was able to command them to any area he wanted to. When in range of an enemy, the quadrocopters automatically opened fire to take out targets, and if left on their own will follow the player and attack enemy units within range.
After clearing the building and returning to the street, we encountered some tech from the enemy lines – a massive four-legged tank armed with a machine gun and rockets. These things don’t play nice, and if you aren’t careful they can tear your team apart in seconds. The easiest way to deal with them is to simply sneak up from behind and take out each of its legs until it detonates into oblivion. The last leg of the mission was to protect the President’s vehicle while flying after groups of drones. This sounded easy, but proved to be quite difficult thanks to the tight formations of the drones and the endless skyscrapers gracing the horizon.
The demo not only showed us what kind of warfare we would be jumping in to, but also showcased the ever-changing game mechanics and weapons that you would be utilizing to survive each mission. Regardless of what vehicle you’re in or which way you choose to let a mission unfold, there’s never a surefire way to determine how a mission is going to unfold.
New tech under the hood
Did I mention that everything in the demo looked supremely GORGEOUS? Black Ops 2 certainly flexed its muscles in the demo, and it’s at once clear how much of detail is going into this game. Dan Bunting, Online Director at Treyarch confides that the new visuals are a combination of ‘tech’ and ‘technique’, which is brilliantly portrayed in a simple level render set in Yemen. A section of the street is made up of grooved stones that look like they have sand stuck in each groove. In reality it is two separate layers – a layer of the stonework and a layer of sand – that are merged together to produce some stunning details. It is of course much more complicated than I’ve described it, but the end result is superb. Even something as simple as a rocky cliff face now casts multiple shadows in between each individual rock, rather than just being one flat repeating texture. Lighting also plays an important part here; subtle solar flares and shimmering water reflections are just a taste of what complicated the visuals the game is able to pull off while still maintaining a crisp 60fps. Dan Bunting, Director, Online, sounds off a bit about the tech that’s going into Black Ops 2: