Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Quality: ★★★½ (out of four)
Rating: M for blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, suggestive themes, use of drugs
Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U, PC
Pick your weapon because it’s time for some fast-paced fighting. This time, it’s “Black Ops II,” the most frenetic of the “Call of Duty” franchise, especially in multiplayer.
Fans of the first “Black Ops” will find some familiar elements here, as well as quite a few improvements.
In the story mode, you switch between playing Alex Mason, the main character from the first “Black Ops,” and David Mason, his son. As Alex, you’re in the past once again. As David, you’re in the future, specifically the year 2025, with all the futuristic guns, vehicles and other war-fighting items.
In multiplayer, you can choose from a ton of different game modes, including popular ones such as “team deathmatch” and “capture the flag” as well as “gun game” (you get a new, better weapon every time you get a kill) and, my personal favorite, “hardpoint” (you and your team must capture and hold a spot on the map).
Nuketown 2025 is the most fun map, and it comes as an extra download. It’s pretty much the same as the Nuketown map from the first installment, but with a futuristic look.
This game has the most customizable loadout of any “Call of Duty” game yet, though there are limits. When customizing multiplayer classes, you’re pretty much able to select any combination of weapons (those you’ve unlocked, anyway) and even the number of grenades you want to carry. And if you don’t like using something, don’t add it to your class. There is a limit: You may only carry 10 items — from weapons to perks — at any one time.
You do have to unlock weapons as you go, but thankfully, credits and wagering with friends in online matches are gone. Instead, you get to unlock tokens each time you increase in level. One unlocked token unlocks one gun, grenade, perk or wild card.
The game also features a return to the popular zombies mode. Others love it, but there’s not much there for me. It’s pure survival, and your only hope is to rack up points through a wonky system that allows you to purchase upgraded guns as you open new portions of the map.
It’s basically like switching out the terrorist enemies in the other portions of “Black Ops II” with zombies. And it’s much less fun.
For a first-person shooter, it’s a ridiculously robust game. You may only spend several hours playing through the fun, but not terribly exciting, single player mode, but you can burn through tons of time in the infinitely replayable multiplayer or zombies (if that’s your thing).
— Kevin Coffey
Angry Birds: Star Wars
Quality: ★★★★ (out of four)
Platform: iOS (iPhone and iPad)
Angry Birds is time-wasting, slightly addictive fun. Add in some “Star Wars” elements — and a few parts from the gravity-defying “Angry Birds Space” — and you have another hit.
The new “Star Wars”-branded edition of the game has all the familiar pieces of its predecessors: green piggies have stolen something and you have to get them back by launching your birds into the pigs’ constructs. Kill all the pigs and keep advancing.
This time, the stolen items are egg-shaped C-3PO and R2-D2. The pigs are dressed as jawas, Tusken Raiders, stormtroopers, Imperial officers, TIE fighters and Darth Vader, of course. The pigs’ constructs also fit in the “Star Wars” world with levels on Tattooine and Hoth and battles in space, moisture farms, cantinas and trash compactors.
Birds get “Star Wars” powers: the Luke bird gets a lightsaber, Han Solo bird gets a blaster, Obi Wan bird gets the Force and Chewbacca bird is, well, just plain huge. Even the Millenium Falcon will show up to help with tough levels.
For only 99 cents, it’s a steal, especially if you’re a fan of “Angry Birds,” “Star Wars” or — like me — both. Once you burn through the initial levels, you’ll probably be counting down until Rovio issues the free, upcoming Hoth levels.
— Kevin Coffey