Adventures with CODBLOPS: My journey to the center of the Call of Duty storm. From zero to prestige and beyond.

It’s time for another weekly sitdown with Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Now, in the last week, my playtime was severely cut down with life getting in the way. My leveling slowed to a crawl and I only put in a few meager minutes. Still, it highlighted a facet of CoD that I have always found intriguing: its immense pick-up-and-play potential.

Having nearly no free time, I found myself only scraping a match or two together here and there. Just a pick-up game of Team Deathmatch or a few tags in Kill Confirmed scooped up before I was out the door. What’s fantastic about most CoD games is that the formula translates so fluidly between large binges or small sessions — something I’ve always believed, even when I was so staunch in hating the series.

While waiting to head out the door, all it takes is about five clicks and — boom — you’re in a match. No waiting, not menu-exploring. Online, Public, TDM and you’re shooting. But how exactly does this dexterous game fit both criteria, of short bursts and sustained plays?

A whole lot of it has to do with how the Public lobby works, dropping you into any match available. Where this used to be the only option, neglecting the wants of competitive players, it now functions as a playground of sorts – something I got at last week. Now, though, there is League play, a.k.a. matchmaking, where players are sorted by skill and wins. Further, the incessant draw of unlocks is gone. Everything you want is there so there is no barrier to entry if you want to get your seeriuz game skillz on. Cool, but not for me.

In Public, everything builds towards your Prestige (duh), so every game means something. To draw the analogy, it’s like signing in to Bejeweled Blitz just to get your daily spin. If you don’t have a few hours to dedicate, that’s fine. If you want to grind away, this is the place. The efficiency with which BLOPS throws you into a game is startling and welcome.

And in these one-offs I tend to play a bit like a loon, attempting the challenges that are off the beaten path. Getting kills with no attachments? Sure. No Perks either? Why not. Since I already play half-assed and lazily (much to the detest of my teammates), these shorter sessions fit me perfectly. I don’t always want long-winded campaigns and epic JRPGs. Sometimes I just wanna run around and pew-pew things.

I still don’t get the notion of playing this game competitively, though. Probably never will, but I will try to force myself soon. While the scorestreaks are tweaked rather well, other stuff needs some work. About half of the populace runs around with the 870 (guilty as charged). Lightning strikes cannot be avoided. Shock charge to Bouncing Betty is an instant kill. It’s a work in progress, but I’m still enjoying myself almost a month down the road.

And that was my week with CODBLOPS: rather bland, rather truncated. No fault of the game’s, just the hectic life of game writer, I suppose. Still dragging behind level 50 and that first Prestige. Still using my old favorite guns. I’ll delve deep this week, promise.