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Controlling the battlefield in Black Ops 2 'Strike Force' missions

Xav de Matos, @Xav

Choice in a video game is not a rare occurrence, unless that game happens to be Call of Duty. During the campaign in Black Ops 2, players will have the ability to select from a handful of 'Strike Force' missions anchored to hotspots throughout the globe. When one mission is selected, the others become unavailable, replaced later with fresh 'Strike Force' missions.

But these single-player missions set in the near-future aren't simply random missions without a story wrapper. Instead, they offer players an opportunity to play Call of Duty with an element of rarely seen choice.

The mission showcased during a recent press event featured an attack on a harbor, as U.S. forces attempted to sink a docked freighter. While players can select a single soldier and run through the mission as they would any other scenario in Call of Duty, there's an option to switch control to other elements of the battlefield.

Perhaps you'd prefer to control a swarm of aerial attack drones, armed with light machine guns; or the land-based assault weapon, a dog-like tank affectionally referred to as the CLAW. Swapping between these resources, including other squad members, seems to be the hook of these 'side quests.' They offer a change of pace from the character-driven narrative, throwing players into the grand battle between two superpowers, while adding an incentive to change the geopolitical landscape of the world in Black Ops 2.

If players fail these missions -- which happens when troops are no longer available for you to control -- or succeed, the consequence bleeds into the single-player. This may make consequent challenges easier or more difficult for players in future story missions. A player's actions may also affect the objectives of Raul Menendez, the main antagonist in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Story-branching and choice is an interesting component coming to the series, implying that players may not see every piece of single-player content in a focused completion of the campaign (of course, players can go back to play those missions as they choose, or play the campaign again).

What's most exciting about the ability to swap roles in 'Strike Force' is the ability to leave the fighting to the computer, instead issuing commands to all of the components -- human and robotic -- from a zoomed out 'Overwatch' position. Strike Force is ambitious, and we're keeping a close eye on it as development on Black Ops 2 progresses.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is coming to the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on November 13, 2012.

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