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Treyarch comes clean: Black Ops didn't "significantly innovate", but Black Ops 2 will

"It really is a major step for the franchise."

Call of Duty: Black Ops wasn't the most innovative shooter on the block, Treyarch's Mark Lamia has conceded, but Black Ops 2? It's going to innovate your socks off. Not wearing socks? Say goodbye to your feet.

A failure to embrace new ideas was one of the few things we disliked about 2010's best-selling shooter - as OXM's reviewer observed, "it does a brilliant job of preaching to the converted". The sequel is shaping up to be a real horizon-expander, however - Zombies Mode is now an open world offering, the old character customisation system has been dumped, and the new campaign has a taste for real-time strategy.

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"I've got no complaints with Black Ops," Lamia told us at a preview event. "Black Ops did what we wanted it to do. It had a lot of personality and character, and I think people enjoyed the creative aspects of it, they enjoyed the balancing. When you played Black Ops there's a lot of interesting gadgets and weapons to play with.

"We had customisation in the game, we had the theatre, the emblem editor, the maps, the settings, the locations that we created, all that stuff really came through. But one of the things that it didn't do, is it didn't look at the gameplay and say, 'hey, let's significantly innovate upon some of these core systems.' They were more like refinements and changes to proven core COD gameplay."

By contrast, Black Ops 2 delves deep beneath the surface. "The reason why I talk about the personalisation and the customisation, while that may have been cosmetic in Black Ops, it's now your gameplay in Black Ops 2," Lamia elaborated.

"You can kind of see how, as a studio we're really into empowering the player to try and give them some unique aspects - to interject their own personalisation and customisation into the character. You can see that evolution, taking things like camos and emblems to the next level and putting it into the core systems."

Run into users who've gotten to grips with the new "Pick 10" create-a-class system, he said, and you may think you're playing a completely different game. "You're going to go into games and people are going to play it in ways that you never saw it played before, with their own creative classes."

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Lamia expects the community to take full advantage of all this, along with the newfound emphasis on support actions. "With the flexibility of that system you're going to see that happen with players across the board. The rewards systems and core systems have changed. We're not just rewarding people who can get kills, we're rewarding people who are playing to the mode objectives, as well as people who are getting kills.

"Clearly in order to stay alive in the game you're going to need to be one of those people, but not just for that. I think that is going to be a fundamental change to the way that people play those games. Black Ops 2 isn't just the next COD game - it really is a major step for the franchise."

Not quite sold? Read more about Black Ops 2's most important changes.

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