Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (reviewed) & PC
Just in case you’re not aware, a little game known as Call of Duty: Black Ops II released this week for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, and with all joking aside, most gamers are likely to pick up the new title for its name alone. The Call of Duty franchise is one of the best selling of all time, and the series has produced the highest selling entertainment release each of the last three years, so it comes as no surprise to see Call of Duty: Black Ops II breaking records once again with this year’s release. Still, some gamers question whether or not developer Treyarch has done enough with its new game to warrant the $60 price tag when they already own multiple Call of Duty games. Luckily, Call of Duty: Black Ops II manages to completely change what you thought you knew about the series in multiple ways throughout each level of gameplay, including the beloved Zombies mode. In short, Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a must-own new release for first-person shooter fans.
The single player campaign in Call of Duty: Black Ops II takes players to the futuristic world of 2025, where a new master villain known as Raul Menendez is wreaking havoc on the world. As in most Call of Duty campaigns, you’ll play through the game as various characters and in various points of time with the end of the game culminating all of the events experienced throughout the campaign. Many characters return for this massive campaign, including Alex Mason, and the campaign features a storyline that is far superior to its predecessor. The game’s graphics have been dramatically improved to make its characters seem more alive than ever before, and the emotional campaign is only further expanded with a branching storyline that allows you to fail mission objectives, lose important characters in combat and complete other game changing tasks that will eventually offer up one of many different endings. Call of Duty: Black Ops II even features special segments known as Strike Force Missions that allow you to strategically swap between units and deploy troops where needed in some of the biggest gunfights ever seen in the series. Call of Duty: Black Ops II features the best Call of Duty campaign to date.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II‘s multiplayer will be what keeps gamers coming back to the game no matter how great the campaign in the game is, and fortunately, Treyarch has managed to completely change the rules of the multiplayer experience with fantastic results as well. Classic game modes like Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag are included in the game, and even the newer fan favorites such as Modern Warfare 3‘s Kill Confirmed returns here. New game modes like Hardpoint, where teams compete to capture always moving target zones, have been added to the game, but the coolest new tweak to online play comes from the addition to play in multiple team games in certain modes. Taking four smaller teams into the game can completely change the way a match would normally play out, and it offers a welcome, yet chaotic approach to classic game modes. Character customization is a big deal in Call of Duty: Black Ops II as well, and the addition of the Pick 10 and Wild Card features means players can pick any ten items they would like for a class, including more than three perks, more than three gun attachments and more. Call of Duty: Black Ops II definitely gives new life to a multiplayer experience that some gamers would argue has gotten stale over the years.
Finally, there is the Zombies mode. Many speculated what Treyarch had up its sleeve for Zombies in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and as it turns out, plenty of fantastic new features have made their way into the game mode. Tranzit is the new campaign for Zombies mode, and you’ll hop on the zombie bus and make your way around the largest Zombies maps ever, completing various tasks that will unlock hidden easter eggs and offer up items that will help you survive additional waves of zombies. Most of the game mode’s storyline is still implied rather than told through narrated cutscenes, but Tranzit offers up enough excitement to allow those who didn’t enjoy Zombies in other Call of Duty games a chance to enjoy a new mode. Of course, the classic Survival Mode is included in the game for fans who simply enjoy surviving the waves with some buddies; and then there is the all new Grief Mode, which, as its name implies, allows teams to compete against one another to see who can outlast the other, all while trying to impede the other team’s progress. The new mode is a lot of fun and yet another welcome change to the classic formula. The best news of all is that Zombies mode now comes with more options than ever before, so experienced players can crank up the difficulty and skip the early rounds, while beginners can turn the game in their favor.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is head and shoulders above any game released in the series in any portion of the game. Call of Duty: Black Ops II offers up a compelling and emotional campaign that is unmatched by any other shooter, a multiplayer experience that is unlike any you’ve experienced and a fresh new take on the best online competitive shooter around with Zombies mode being fleshed out more than ever before to please the hardcore while attracting a new audience. Call of Duty: Black Ops II isn’t perfect, but it is the game of the year for 2012 and possibly the best shooter ever released. Playing Call of Duty: Black Ops II comes with plenty of additional perks not offered by many other games. With Call of Duty: ELITE players can now access more content than ever before, including advanced player cards, stream live matches over YouTube, easily create in-game recordings and share them with friends, access improved leaderboards and more. Call of Duty: Black Ops II isn’t just a game; it’s the entertainment experience of the year. Pick up your copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops II today; you won’t regret it!
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is now available from all major retailers for the MSRP of $59.99 and can be purchased for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Call of Duty: Black Ops II is rated M by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes & Use of Drugs. For more information on the game, check out the official Call of Duty: Black Ops II website.
4 1/2 out of 5