- About our rating system
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a first-person shooter developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. This is a direct sequel to Call of Duty: Black Ops and ties into the story arc started in Call of Duty: World at War. Players will assume the role of several characters such as Alex Mason and Frank Woods, previously introduced in Black Ops to take part in flashback missions during the end of The Cold War. In the future of fictional 2025, players will assume the role of JSOC Navy SEAL Commander David “Section” Mason as well as other characters as you progress through the campaign.
While Call of Duty: Black Ops II has faced criticism in regards to the capabilities of its graphic engine, the game’s Direct X 11 presence quells any doubts with much more rendering in comparison to the original Black Ops. With Call of Duty: Black Ops II, the texturing and environmental rendering of scenes are pushed to the limit as the player experiences different aspects of the environment, such as water rolling off of your screen or dust and sand obscuring your vision. The lighting aspect of the game feels greatly improved as seen in the campaign mission “Fallen Angel”, where different light sources add into the ambiance of nightfall in addition to weather effects such as rain and water spatter. The light effects on weapons, as well as other objects and people enhance the realism experienced in the environments that Black Ops II brings players into.
Character models have been improved compared to the first Black Ops in terms of detail. While iconic characters remain recognizable, subtle changes in the rendering and sculpting certainly bring the experience of Black Ops II to life. In between campaign missions, its obvious that motion capture is used to render the narrative cut scenes, but it is executed perfectly as the movement and expressions with the virtual characters look smooth as they are paired up to the voice of the actor.
The single player campaign for Call of Duty: Black Ops II plays relatively decent in terms of the iconic action that people recognize with the Call of Duty franchise. While there are a few “quick-time” events, they aren’t too common and at the very least, make you feel drawn into the drama of the scene. The hit-detection in this phase of the game is on target as players can engage enemies without worry. However, there are instances, especially if you’re playing on a harder difficulty, that players may have to send a couple more bullets or what not to make sure that enemies are really neutralized. The campaign isn’t too long and will offer about roughly 6-8 hours of gameplay on a normal setting, depending on your skills.
A new aspect in the single player experience is the addition of custom loadouts. In contrast with previous Call of Duty games, players often were given certain weapons by default and were left to find whatever the enemy was dropping when ammo was low. This feature does add some replay value as challenges are also introduced into the missions, yielding camo skins, attachments, and perks if the mission or challenge is completed. For the most part, players can choose for themselves what they would like to bring to a mission, even if the mission recommends a certain loadout, which can be reset to default with one button.
While Call of Duty: Black Ops II shows a more grittier and darker side of things, players do have an option to disable the graphic content that may be offensive or disturbing. In the scenes that such things are present, one of two things occur. If there is a scene with offensive language, the audio is either substituted or just muted and continues normally. If there is a scene with disturbing content, players with see either a blurred cut-scene, the disturbing content removed completely, or just a black screen with the audio playing. These countermeasures for our younger Call of Duty players may not be the best, but it does give their parents some options in regards to exposing them to such content.
Multiplayer for Call of Duty: Black Ops II to some is considered as the meat of the game, and rightfully so as Treyarch polished the iconic MP experience with some new additions. One of the two major additions to the Call of Duty formula is the introduction of the Pick-10 feature within Create-A-Class. What it allows players to do is to customize their loadouts even more in terms of their play style and the gamemodes they are playing. At the very same time, the Pick-10 feature does has some limits, such as perks or attachments since any aspect that you add takes up a slot, which include weapons as well. Within the Pick-10 feature, is the introduction of Wildcards. While this may not be the other major additional change for the game, it allows players to bring a certain factor into the battlefield, hence “Wildcard”. For players, the Wildcard feature feels more like a supplemental module since it allows for certain abilities such as three attachments through Primary Gunfighter, or a couple of my favorite ones, which are Perk 1 Greed; which allows another Perk 1 choice, and Overkill; which allows a primary weapon to be equipped as a secondary weapon to be used in battle. Because of the different combinations with wildcards in play, players can further personalize or create challenging loadouts to be used online.
While killstreaks have been present since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, they have undergone some significant changes over the years, and Black Ops II is no exception. Now labeled as Scorestreaks, players are now steered more towards PTO, (Playing The Objective) even though there are instances that isn’t necessarily the case. Scorestreaks work and are setup very much like the killstreaks of past, and are deployed in similar fashion with a few differences. Hence with the name Scorestreak, you have to accumulate a certain amount of score on one life in game in order to use that Scorestreak. If you have more than one scorestreak available, such as a care package and a hellfire missile, you no longer have to use them in that order as you’re now able to select which Scorestreak that you would like to use, which is great in hot situations. Catering to players of different skill levels and personalities, Scorestreaks are also customizable to one’s abilities which are emphasized on the score required to use that streak.
In terms of the Multiplayer experience itself, Call of Duty: Black Ops II offers different innovations to the forumla without deviating from the things we like and dislike about the game. In the case of the PC, one of the core features returning for Black Ops II is the presence of dedicated servers. However, there isn’t a server browser embedded within the game, which would suggest that Treyarch is running the servers in house as no servers for Black Ops II are advertised for rent. Very much like its console brethern, PC players are subjected to a matchmaking process in order to get in game, however, with the addition of being able to search for the best connection versus the default setting in previous installments does help quite a bit. The indroduction of Steam into the mix allows players to setup their parties just a bit easier than their console counterparts before fragging it out online. With the combinations and tweaks in the Multiplayer process, Call of Duty: Black Ops II certainly feels solid.
The story behind Black Ops II felt very unique and put a twist in what our history books said happened. While somewhat lucrative, the plot which piloted the player between the last leg of the Cold War and the fictional new Cold War was very detailed, which felt like Treyarch did their homework in regards to the history of things.
Whether you felt pity or hated the charcter, Raul Menendez was written in very well, despite many attempts to kill him. The main antagonist of the story had a lot of detail surrounding his origins, why he did what he did, and the reasons behind being the main villain for Black Ops II. Compared to a lot of antagonists in previous Call of Duty games, Menendez felt like a true force to be reckoned with as Treyarch went out their way to make this character uniquely ruthless, insane, and yet still able to out wit the player depending on their choices.
Even though David Mason is the main character of the story behind Black Ops II, players assume the roles of other supporting characters, which include Raul Menendez for a brief time. The story is written very well in a way that could be understood by players who did not play the previous Black Ops, and still be able to get the needed information and background behind many of the characters in the story. Even so, Black Ops II supplies some needed background info from the previous Black Ops to help flesh out characters and elaborate crucial past events that tie into the plot.
While Black Ops II did not have branching choices or stories of epic proportions like Mass Effect 3, Black Ops II is the first game in the franchise to implement different endings for what the player did or didn’t do as well as involving the player in some decision making. Overall, the story behind Black Ops II felt believable despite the fiction and the occasional hollywood explosion fest.
In most games, sounds is one of those important factors that make or break a game, and Black Ops II doesn’t hold back. Even in the opening sequence, a big Dolby logo pops up right at you in tandem with the Dolby jingle. If you have Dolby surround sound equipment, you will notice a difference in effects as well as the various dialogue that occurs in the story. With the default Treyarch mix in the options menu, the sound is loud but clear with no distortions. Depending on your personal preferences and settings, different presets are available, such as a low and high end sound boost as well as one for headphones.
Gunfire from various weapons sounds on par as the quality matches with other effects occurring within the playing environment. However, with the addition of Dolby Surround in the mix, different elements in that environment are amplified, almost deepening the experience of the game. Explosions feel deeper in an movie like feeling as well as the surprising clarity of the combat chatter in game despite the booming noise of everything else in the game.
Dialogue during the single player portion of the game is clear as well, despite the enhanced sound that Black Ops II brings to the table. Between Frank Woods’ narrative rant as well as Tony Todd’s distinctive one-liner, the sound is pretty well balanced in this department, conveying excitement and clarity.
The music behind the game is also a contributing factor as Treyarch takes on Jack Wall to compose music behind Black Ops II. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, other soundtracks under his belt include Myst III: Exile, Myst IV: Revelation, Jade Empire, as well as Mass Effect 1 & 2. The music tracks for the different levels and eras of Black Ops II complement the action and intrigue of the game, as it ties into where and what the player is doing.
The stock PC controls for Black Ops II are a bit different in comparison to the previous settings for Black Ops as they now include peeking and leaning like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. While this may warrant a bit of changing with the key binds, since certain buttons such as melee or lethal grenades are in awkward places on the keyboard, players can utilize an Xbox 360 controller as well without any fuss as the button layout is the same as the Xbox 360 version.
Once you’re settled in, the controls feel straightforward as there aren’t any complicated combinations to remember. However, unlike previous Call of Duty games, one button controls your ability to swap between your primary and secondary weapons. This is not to be confused with the button that would normally swap your previous weapon equipped in previous Call of Duty games. However, it could be interpreted that there wasn’t a need for such a function since there were keybinds for weapons as well as your lethal and tactical weapons. While this is somewhat annoying as some players will utilize the middle mouse button as their go-to for melee, an alternative would be to move the specific key-bind somewhere else, or use a controller.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II brings the fast adrenaline paced action to the future as it showcases an impressive campaign setting paired up to quality audio and an impressive cast of voice actors to bring the experience to players. In addition, Black Ops II also features the distinctive Multiplayer experience that gamers recognize with the franchise. Despite the fact that it is another Call of Duty title, Black Ops II remains a great fun first-person shooter that players will occupy themselves with, until the next one.
- Dedicated Servers
- Pick-10/Scorestreak System
- Direct X 11 Features
- No server browser
- Matchmaking Implemented
- Minor annoyance with default controls
|Genre:||FPS (First Person Shooter)|
|Platform:||PC, PS3, Wii U, XBox 360|