Developer: Treyarch / Publisher: Activision / Release Date: November 18, 2012 / Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U / ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Drugs]
During Nintendo’s Wii U-specific press conference earlier this week, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg announced that their upcoming Call of Duty title, Black Ops 2, would be coming to Nintendo’s forthcoming console. Shortly after the announcement was made, we were invited to try it out for ourselves.
Set up with a traditional game of free-for-all located on what seemed like an abandoned shipping harbor, we were handed the Wii U Gamepad to try out, which features traditional, non-motion-focused controls, but notably includes some quirky touch-screen-based features only possible with the Wii U’s new control scheme.
While running, sprinting, jumping, aiming and shooting are all as familiarly mapped to buttons and analog sticks as they’ve always been, the widescreen built into the Gamepad provides some innovative and strategic new ways to experience Call of Duty. While it wasn’t shown to me at this particular demo, the developer on-hand told me that, when the game ships, you’ll be able to freely use the touchscreen as an extra mini-map for keeping a closer eye on the playing field. In fact, you’ll even be able to zoom in on specific areas of the level in-play, making it easier to keep an eye on a capture point or headquarters position.
You’ll also be able to use the touchscreen as an exact mirror of the television, allowing you to continue playing Black Ops 2 on your controller when your dumb brother barges in to watch Hockey or something. With Nintendo implementing this feature in many (if not all) of its own games for the system, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this become a standard feature among all Wii U games over the course of its life cycle. It’s certainly a welcome one. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play games while lying in the bathtub? I’m aware of the danger, don’t preach to me about electrical hazards.
This streaming-style feature also dynamically alters how split-screen multiplayer is played – that being it almost eliminates it all together. Let’s say you and a friend sit down to have a 1v1 Snipers-only match, but you don’t want to share the screen (or incite an argument over who is “screen peeking”). Thankfully, with the Wii U, one of you can play on the television, and one of you can play solely on the Wii U Gamepad screen. While it’s yet to be a confirmed feature for split-screen online play, we certainly hope it’s a planned to be – we’ll happily welcome more TV space.
You’ll also be able to customize your loadouts and activate killstreaks right from the touchscreen.
Those features aside, Black Ops 2 on Wii U plays like Black Ops 2, which, in turn, plays like Call of Duty – albeit the obvious gameplay alterations and overall near-future visual overhaul. And aside from the one or two matches of multiplayer I played, I really haven’t had enough hands-on time with the game to craft a preview that does the game justice. I’m sure other outlets would mirror this sentiment.
But in a nutshell, it’s fun, it’s packed with neat, console-exclusive features, and it might very well change the way Call of Duty is played — what with its dynamic map and touchscreen accessibility.
And make sure to stay tuned, we’ll let you know when we get our filthy mitts on it next.