Black Ops II is a first-person shooter developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. This is the ninth installment for the record breaking Call of Duty franchise. As usual, this latest entry has brought with it a large amount of marketing, hype and promise of innovation. Did Treyarch pull it off? You bet they did.
The Story and Campaign
Their success is derived from their ability to pull off surprising twists and deliver feature rich gameplay experiences within both single and multiplayer based game modes. Treyarch manages to keep everything exciting and amazingly fresh. The campaign allows gamers to shake up the outcome. The story takes place across two separate arcs and really mixes it up by varying characters, perspectives and the overall timeline. The campaign focus heavily on the villain Raul Menendez and gives players a deep understanding of why he has become the man he is today. The story of the turmoil and struggle with each character will grip and pull you into their world.
The 1980s story arc follows the exploits of Alex Mason, fighting in a proxy war in Angola whilst suffering from a disorder as a result of his brainwashing in Vorkuta. Viktor Reznov will reportedly return in this section of the game, and it has been suggested that his friendship with Mason will continue to be explored. This portion of the game chronicles the rise of Raul Menendez, the primary antagonist of the game in the 2025 chapter.
In 2025, a cyberattack targets the Chinese economy, crippling the Chinese Stock Exchange. In retaliation for this, the Chinese government has banned the export of rare earth elements, sparking a “Second Cold War” between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. During an invasion of Los Angeles, David Mason – the son of Alex Mason – and a team from the United States Navy Special Warfare Development Group must escort the American and French presidents to safety as they come under attack from automated weapons and Menendez’s men.
A great addition to the excellent story is how players are offered choices through the campaign. These actions do indeed have consequences which will change how the story unfolds. This gives the experience an even deeper feel and tremendously increases the replay-ability of the campaign. These decisions players will be making has a direct effect on gameplay which prompts certain cutscenes based on the route you’ve chosen. This alone will bring gamers back for a second go-around to see what would have happened if they had chosen differently.
The action is as intense as ever. You’ll be facing fierce firefights and absolute mayhem throughout your venture. Your basically a star in a high budget action film where no expense was spared in creating a fantastic adventure filled with explosions and incredible chaos. Gamers can be an absolute war machine thanks to solid controls, precise shooting mechanics and the sophisticated high-tech weaponry at hand. Players will also be able to tailor their campaign experience through custom load outs. This includes weapons, accessories and your favorite perks.
Treyarch continues their innovation within Black Ops 2 for the multiplayer scene. There are numerous new features and options available for this entry. The Pick 10 system throws a new spin on the typical loadout rules. Each of your weapons, grenades or perks count as one of your 10 points. These can be altered and changed as players see fit which creates an impressive number of combinations.
Another big changes and a welcome one at that is The Kill Streak System which has been replaced by Score Streaks. Instead of shooting for the most kills you’l be competing for the highest overall score. Players will also be happy to hear that you won’t have your stats reset after maxing out and better yet you’ll earn even more rewards. Players will receive a token that allows them to unlock an item regardless of its level requirement. Leveling up is a joy thanks to a fantastic set of classic competitive online modes such as Team Death Match, CTF, Search and Destroy, Kill Confirmed and Hardpoint.
Needless to say, Treyarch has ensured there is something for everyone and the variety in Black Ops II is simply fantastic. Gamers can enjoy all these modes via online or play in classic split screen fashion. A really useful feature to get your skills up to par is the new Combat Training mode. If you are new to the franchise or had some time off from the highly competitive online matches, this mode will help you tremendously. This allows gamers to get the controls and mechanics down while also learning the maps and key vantage points. Lastly, fans of clans will really enjoy League Play. It allows the creation of teams complete with unique names and emblems. Teams will get ranked after a few matches and then you can start working your way up the leader boards.
The Zombies are back and in a big way in Black Ops II. Treyarch is fully aware of the popularity of this mode and gave it a full campaign for the fans. The undead are definitely buzzing the entertainment industry and their popularity in video games is no exception. Players can look forward to taking on waves of these monsters with three of their friends. Tranzit is pure madness and incredibly fun. You can also fight zombies in Survival mode and the new competitive Grief mode. Survival allows players to defend a single area and simply concentrate on fortifying it. Grief mode puts two teams against one another in an all out war to see who can survive the longest. You’ll find yourself spending some serious quality time eliminating the undead with these thrilling modes.
- Create-a-class has been re-booted, introducing players to a new “pick-10” allocation system, allowing an unprecedented number of combinations of create-a-class content. Players no longer have to take content from each category; instead, trade items from one category for extra items in another – any combination of 10 items makes almost anything possible.
- Pick 10 System Wildcards - Ten points and nearly endless combinations: every piece of content is worth one point, and you can spend your 10 points in any way you like, encouraging a greater level of customization for individual play styles. Also a point each, Wildcards allow players to “extend the system” and configure classes in more unique ways – players can take multiple perks from one category, equip their primary with three attachments, carry two lethals, and more.
- New Score streaks reward players for helping their team win the game: capturing flags, defending your teammate with an Assault Shield, getting kills and assists are all examples of actions that help your team win and thus give you score. Each action has a different value and can influence the theater of operations:
- Interactivity: Commandeer a Hellstorm Missile and guide it to its path, or disperse a cluster of bombs and try to take out multiple enemies – the ultimate risk/reward scenario. Also, take control of a VTOL Warship and rain steel from above.
- Take control or let it do the work for you – engage the AGR (Autonomous Ground Robot), a sentry drone which will fight autonomously on the player’s behalf, or can be user-controlled. Sentry Guns work the same way.
- Harness the power of the MQ-27 Dragonfire, a remote-controlled quad rotor with a light machine gun that can surgically eliminate targets on the ground. Use the Lodestar to find, hunt and kill anything on the map.
- Insane Weapons: Once you’ve held the War Machine, you’ll never want to hold another grenade launcher again. The Death Machine makes its updated return in 2025, giving players their own, hand-held Gatling Gun that can shred anything in sight.
- The Biggest Zombies Experience to Date: Call of Duty: Black Ops II Zombies features three different ways to survive the zombie apocalypse. Unravel the mysteries of a dying Earth in Tranzit, fight endless waves of zombies in Survival mode, or compete in the new 4z4 last-human-standing mode, Grief.
- Tranzit - 1-4 player co-op in a large open world with a variety of locations. The new Buildables gameplay elements help players move through each area to find the key tidbits that reveal why they are there and what they must do to survive. All the while, public transportation is still operational, as a bus will regularly stop at each location. Zombies ride for free.
- Survival - Recreating the classic mode of just purely surviving the shambling, incoming Zombie horde, Survival mode allows you to play 1-4 players co-op in specific locations from the much larger Tranzit area.
- Grief - You and friends can take on up to 4 people in a team vs. Zombies vs. team scenario. 2-8 players are thrown in a situation to be the last humans standing.
- MP Technology with Zombies: Call of Duty: Black Ops II features new and extensive stat tracking as well as leader boards for bragging rights. New skill-based matchmaking system will allow players of the same ability to take on the horrors of the night in public game modes. For players that are looking for an extra challenge, Zombies features custom games: Head shots only, higher starting rounds, and toggling of extra items are all available.
Treyarch has really improved this franchise in nearly every conceivable way one can imagine. The wealth of features, modes and new additions are astounding. Single players will be blown away by the campaign. Multiplayer fans will no doubt eat up the online scene due to all the improvements in regards to the impressive customization ,Score Streak System and the highly competitive League Play. Zombie fanatics will definitely be playing through Tranzit and its endless waves of terror for hours on end. Black Ops II is without a doubt one of the best FPS experiences of this generation.
Review Rating: 9.5/10