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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 multiplayer - First details, impressions and screens

Esports, class customisation and more in Treyarch's online assault

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For example, if a player wants to call in a UAV, they need 300pts. In the past, they'd earn this device by simply shooting three opponents in a row. Now, they can obtain it by carrying out three actions that tally up to the value of 300 pts; say, pick up an enemy flag (100pts), shoot an enemy (100pts) and then plant the enemy flag back at their base (100pts).

The Score Streak rewards are a mixture of new and old. Dependables such as the UAV, Care Packages and Attack Dogs rub shoulders with re-skinned units such as a new miniature gunship, which functions the same way MW2's gunships did, although it's harder to hit. The new Score Streak rewards are a tantalising cocktail of real-world weapons and borderline sci-fi.

The Guardian, for example, is a riot control device currently in prototype stages. It's a turret that emits microwaves that frazzles enemies and slows them down, allowing players to pick them off easier. The HellStorm rocket, we're told, is based in reality; it works like the Predator Missiles from MW, except its head splits into six separate warheads that can spell doom for any team moving together in a close formation.

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There is a tonne of deployable ordinance that depends on AI but in a neat twist, players can assume control of a lot of them. Once they've called in an AI-driven vehicle like say, the AGR, a four legged tank with twin-mounted canons, players can hit a button and they'll be able to pilot it from a first-person perspective. The switch-over is seamless, although piloting a vehicle leaves the player vulnerable to attack. If they die, the AI resumes control.

The new weapons in Black Ops 2 also ride the line between reality and hi-tech fantasy. Most of the guns look like gussied up weapons from the MW games, but there are some weapons among them that are unique to Black Ops 2. The Assault Shield, for example, is a steel riot shield that players can slam into the ground and use for cover in a firefight.

Shock Charges zap enemies and freeze them for a few seconds, while an EMP grenade will knock out any AI units that are pestering the players. Oh, and Campers? Your number's up. The Millimeter (sic) Wave Scanner allows players to look through walls and spot stationary targets so it turns you lot into sitting ducks.

There are even some nasty Uber Weapons available; the War Machine is a grenade launcher the size of a ham hock that pumps explosive rounds into the air, while the Death Machine is a handheld gatling gun that turns anything in front of it into paint.

While the new arsenal is tons of fun to muck about with, the basic COD gameplay is exactly the way you remember it. Firefights are close-quarter pressure cookers favouring a frenetic shotgun-first-ask-questions-later approach. The maps on show at the event complimented this style of play, although two of them, Cargo and Turbine, had certain quirks that made them more entertaining.

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Cargo takes place in a container bay at the LA docks, and while players frag each other, cranes move containers about, creating pathways and removing cover as they do so. Turbine is set in and around a canyon with a wrecked plane in it, which players can run up to get a better vantage point on the ground below them. The remaining two maps, Aftermath and Yemen, were classic COD street battles in urban environments.

There was only one new match type we could play at the event, Hardpoint, in which players have to control a zone on the map that switches position at random. It's essentially a riff on the King of The Hill match type in Gears Of War 3. Far more impressive was the fact that the game now supports up to four teams hammering away at each other, although the maximum amount of players online in any given match is still set at 18.

The usual collection of medals, tags and emblems are available for the player to earn, and they rack up XP with every single match. This, in turn allows them to open up a whole list of items, weapons, perks, Score Streak rewards and so on. There are 55 levels in total and Treyarch say it's impossible for a player to have unlocked everything by maxing out their rank. This means that content is available for players who decide to Prestige - and there are a further 10 levels of that.

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