Video Game Review: ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 2’ Brings Changes But Keeps Strengths

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CHICAGO – Entering a freshly crowded field of first-person shooters, “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” had a lot of buzz behind it. The good news is that the game virtually matches the hype. This is absolutely on the upper end of the get-it-while-it’s-new list. Those who have criticized Activision for turning “COD” into an annual cash cow simply have little to complain about here. Almost everything has been given the once over and improved upon. This isn’t just some facelift “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.” This is a rethinking of almost every aspect of every system. Whether you choose single player or multiplayer mode, odds are that you’re going to be occupied with this thing for a good long while. Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0

The game is a sequel to “COD: Black Ops” but starts years later in 2025. You play David Mason, son of the now retired Black Ops man Alex who must navigate a new Cold War style series of tensions between China and the U.S. exacerbated by the rise to power of Cordis Dei leader Raul Menedez. Soon, you find yourself all over the map, literally across time and space. David S. Goyer, who was called in to help with story here no doubt contributed to much of the intense plotting that involves pushing the story so far into the future and offering gameplay in the nineteen eighties that explains much of the post Black Ops backstory between David’s father Alex and agent Frank Woods. You meet real life historic figures like Manuel Noriega, Ollie North, and more, and you find out a ton more about just what has made everyone into who they are.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Photo credit: Activision

Meanwhile, back in 2025 you get to play with a ton of futuristic weaponry and vehicle tech. While the cut scenes could stand some attention in terms of graphics the play graphics are great. A big plus in general is the fact there are a large number of options available that affect the outcome of the game. Sure you can tool through it initially in a couple of days max if you push it. But start down any of the branching trails and you’re liable to find yourself having to make quick decisions to avoid losing out. It’s an irritation for sure. These opportunities come and go so quickly that you will probably have to re-approach the game multiple times to take advantage of all the possible outcomes but with single player gameplay this fun it‘s hard to care.

You can finally opt for different loadouts which figures into the game heavily since you need certain weapons to complete certain campaigns. Smart users will want to experiment a fair bit since there are a number of ways to manage your arsenal and the better you are at changing it up the more timely your progress will be. Look for a ton of new weapons and new uses for old weapons as well.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Photo credit: Activision

Speaking of new, the game does make a lot more use of zombies, and, most importantly, gives you the distinct impression it’s only scratching the surface of their importance to the game overall. You won’t get all your questions answered but you’ll experience new modes of play that change how you interact with the undead, even being able to use them strategically against other teams.

When it comes to the multiplayer mode, I confess I’m a bit of a dead weight. I just prefer single player and sometimes I have a hard time being objective about what I think of a multiplayer option in a specific game. Here though it is apparent that “Call of Duty” is an even stronger multiplayer game than single player. Lots of changes and adjustments that expand the sense of working together to achieve mission goals make for smooth teamwork. One of my favorite new features was being able to drop in and out of conversations. But by the time you hit the game up in multiplayer mode the complexities and potential of it are almost overwhelming.

This game far outshines the original “Black Ops” in most areas by bringing more choice and interactivity to the screen but it also leaves some room for improvement. One thing’s for sure. Look for more “Black Ops” down the road. If the creative team continues to develop the story the way they did this time around there is little doubt that “Call of Duty” will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops II” was released by Activision on November 13, 2012. The version reviewed was for the Xbox 360 but it is also available for the PS3.

By Dave Canfield
Staff Writer

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