Accompanying the release of Oscar-contending movies and Grammy-hopeful albums, the fall season is known for its peak in popular video game releases, and the 2012 season is no different.
Within a week of each other, 343 Industries’ “Halo 4″ and Treyarch’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” released to great anticipation and excitement from gamers everywhere, each setting new sales records for their respective franchises.
Each game, coming from franchises that define the modern day first-person shooter genre, continues a series roughly a decade old. As new entries into two of the world’s largest video game franchises known for their popular online multiplayer experiences, both games have piqued the interest of students across UCLA.
Austin Roberts, fourth-year psychology student and customer service associate at Game On! in Ackerman Union, said he saw a sudden increase in activity from both releases.
“For the first few days of “˜Halo 4,’ there were a lot more customers than usual,” Roberts said. “There was way more excitement for “˜4′ than for (the previous “˜Halo’ game) “¦ and “˜Call of Duty’ had maybe a little more excitement, more blatant publicity. They were advertising it like a blockbuster.”
“Halo 4″ marks the first game in the series developed by 343 Industries, a company created to oversee the future of the “Halo” franchise from its creator company, Bungie, who last released “Halo: Reach” in 2010. Exclusive for the Xbox 360, “Halo 4″ follows the protagonist Master Chief, an advanced super-soldier in the far future who faces a new threat, the Prometheans, on a mysterious new planet.
Being the first “Halo” game from a new developer as well as the beginning of a new anticipated trilogy, “Halo 4″ was a big step for 343 which had a lot of expectations to meet. Robert Wu, third-year business economics student and an avid gamer at Game On!, said he found satisfaction with the risky new entry.
“It’s different, more strategic,” Wu said. “Graphics are a lot better. I think 343 is doing really well with it, better than expected. Feels a bit like “˜Reach,’ but they brought back a lot of old weapons and added some “˜Call of Duty’ features, which I thought were really nice.”
“Halo 4″ introduces a variety of new weapons from the Prometheans, as well as increased customization options for the player’s online character. New game modes, such as Spartan Ops story missions, and old, such as the map-creating Forge mode, bring refreshing changes while keeping to the series’ classic feel.
“Call of Duty: Black Ops II” is the fourth main entry in the “Call of Duty” series by Treyarch, which had previously made “Call of Duty: World at War” and “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” Released on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U and PC, “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” follows two Cold War-inspired storylines in the second half of the 20th century and, for the first time in the series, the near future.
An anticipated release for the franchise since “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” last year’s entry to the series, “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” provides fun improvements while continuing the story and multiplayer experience that gamers, such as Tarik Farhoud, second-year physiological science student also from Game On!, have come to appreciate.
“The graphics are pristine,” Farhoud said. “These maps are more close range, some guns range over them, so these games go by fast. “¦ Multiplayer is the same, same perks, same gameplay, but with new killstreaks, new guns. It’s fun, you definitely have to play it.”
With new campaign developments, helmed by player choice-driven Strike Force missions, as well as a classic shooter multiplayer, including the return of fan favorite Zombies mode, “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” continues the persistently successful franchise with enough improvements to keep gamers coming back for more.
Both “Halo 4″ and “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” lead the fall season in video game releases as shooters that are sure to be within the essentials in casual gaming fun and the forefront of hardcore competition for the foreseeable future.