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Review: “Black Ops” fires up new series

When “Call of Duty” is revamped, it’s done right. The latest installment of the “Black Ops” series, “Call of Duty Black Ops II,” was released last week on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and thrusts video game season into full force. The popular first-person shooter underwent some big changes that could change the way shooters are made from now on.

From the small improvements in multiplayer mode to the extensive overhaul of campaign mode, “Black Ops II” is vastly better than its precursor, “Black Ops.”

The online multiplayer is a new system in which gamers can earn new weapons and equipment with points gauged on their performance, that they then use as currency to unlock future weapons. New artillery is headlined with powerful assault rifles like the AN-94, a gun that fires the first two rounds of each burst at an expedited rate. It’s easier to focus on the enemy because of small but reactive crosshairs, an arsenal of new sights to attach to weapons and redesigned maps.

The perks system is revamped with a more useful and applicable set of power-ups to be used online. An improved fast hands perk gives players the ability to swap weapons faster than normal as well as to chuck grenades and deploy equipment, a significant step up from the perk in the previous games that only applied to reloading speed. The awareness perk makes enemies four times louder than normal and easy to hear for those who rely on heightened senses.

Creating a class of weapons, equipment abilities and other vital options now goes by a rule of 10. Players can customize perks, guns, abilities, and now wildcards, which can be used all together for up to 10 different personalized features in each set. Wildcards allow the player to break game rules, like using a primary weapon in the secondary slot, adding attachments to multiple weapons, or even allowing more than three perks in one given class.

With serious graphic improvements made to the facial expressions and hand movements in campaign mode, the story line becomes incredibly immersing. It allows the player to make decisions that actually affect the outcome of the “Black Ops” tale. Skydiving, aerial warfare with a brand new lineup of aircraft and state of the art controllable-armed bots make the campaign a constantly changing and high paced experience.

For gamers who were happy with “Black Ops,” the sequel is a must have and will take many hours of playing until players experience all the new improvements and features the game has to offer.

4 out of 5 Panther Paws

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