By now you know the name. There is no need for an introduction, just like there’s no need for a long review. The Call of Duty series has recycled the same tried and true gameplay mechanics and elements for years now. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but some people do have their reservations about it.
Regardless of what you think about the Call of Duty series, it has its remarkably wide range of fans which obviously make up a large audience (why do you think there have been so many games, duh).
You can bet your ass that the latest Call of Duty offering will have its online and offline competitive multiplayer modes, single player campaign, and a few extra game modes. In the case of Black Ops II, we have the Zombies game mode, which also should need no introduction. Aside from some significant changes in Black Ops II, it’s essentially just like its predecessor.
I’ll save you the hassle and tell you right up front if you love the Call of Duty series, or you’re a long time fan then Black Ops II won’t disappoint. It’s bigger, badder and more ambitious than the first Black Ops. On the other hand, however, if you have never liked the Call of Duty series then Black Ops II gives you no glaring reasons to jump on the bandwagon; you’ll probably hate this installment too.
I have seen plenty of other reviews that claim Black Ops II is significantly different, offering up an entirely new experience. While this is somewhat true, I will stand by my own contention that folks who have never liked the series will probably feel the same way after playing the latest installment. This is by no means, a generalization as everyone is different. Some people may change from Call of Duty haters, to Call of Duty fans because of this game. That being said, it’s still clearly a Call of Duty title, end of story.
Black Ops II Single Player Campaign
The single player campaign is monumental, like incredibly enormous. Without spoiling any surprises, I can say that the campaign covers several different time periods and follows a precise list of characters, just like in previous titles. The emphasis in Black Ops II, which I’m sure you witnessed in the trailers for the game, is on the futuristic gameplay. The thing is, the scenes in the past have as much to do with the story as the current events do. This generates an all-encompassing campaign that actually lives up to the hype, for once.
Say what you want about my opinion, but personally I got sick and tired of the blockbuster action sequences in previous installments that were over the top and unrealistic. Unfortunately, they’re still here but as unbelievable as some of the events are, the Black Ops II campaign is still enjoyable.
The Cold War era missions follow characters from the first Black Ops. You’ll remember all the names like Alex Mason, Sgt. Frank Woods and more. While the future 2025 missions follow Alex Mason’s son, David Mason. Sadly the heroes are all predictable and cliché, following the same mirrored path as the previous Call of Duty protagonists (I mean hell, a couple of the protagonists are even from previous titles).
“The Villain is What Brings Ingenuity to The Table.”
The villain is what brings ingenuity to the table. Raul Mendez and his company Cordis Die are what make the story in Black Ops II. From beginning to end, Mendez has his own truly remarkable and yet quite moving story. In fact, throughout the entire campaign, all the way to the overly climactic ending, I found myself wracked with a variety of emotions regarding Mendez. I tell you this because I have no doubt that you will also. I have never sympathized, hated, and respected someone so much in any Call of Duty title before this.
Mendez is born, not out of hatred, fear or pure evil, but instead out of a series of unfortunate events that also happen to piece together the story of Black Ops II. Without ruining the plot, or the twists, I can tell you that you will have a direct impact on Mendez’s subsequent actions.
The complete change here is that players now have more choices. You better get used to it too because you will be making choices throughout the entire campaign and in almost every other game mode. In fact, there’s so much variety in Black Ops II that it often makes me sick, but not in a bad way- it’s more like a nauseous sense of awe. The Call of Duty series has always been so linear, so closed, with one straight approach and only one conclusion. All of that has changed in Black Ops II. Perhaps the best way to describe it, is that the game essentially reacts more to your decisions. Trust me when I say this is good, extremely good.
Choices are undeniably more accessible throughout the campaign thanks to the newly implemented Strike Force missions. This new mini game system adds a touch of strategy to Black Ops II. Strike Missions resemble a stripped down RTS title. Essentially you manage a varied range of troops from a top-down perspective, yet you can jump in and take charge at any time. Aside from this new game system there isn’t too much different about the rest of the Call of Duty campaign.
Vehicle missions still exist, and keep you haphazardly piloting a vehicle, along a seemingly linear path, with plenty of scripted events and explosions. Cutscenes are bigger than ever, and the story is surprisingly solid.
Now single player is a lot more like multiplayer because you can customize your loadout before you even start a mission. You have the option to select different weapons, customize them with attachments and even equip your character with unique perks. Of course, you can’t take future weapons into the past and vice versa, but the customization options are clearly robust enough to make the feature worthwhile. It’s fun to replay missions with different loadouts.
You can also compare your scores with friends and the rest of the Call of Duty community through online leaderboards, just to see how you fare.
In the past I’ve never been much of a fan, at least of the single player campaign. I always found myself playing through the campaign like a zombie, or a robot. I would play, and play and play until I beat the campaign. Sure, I had my experiences and emotional reactions to what was happening on screen but they never truly invoked my brain power. The older Call of Duty games can be compared to watching a Blockbuster film, albeit one that you have a major role in but don’t truly affect. With Black Ops II, I was invested in the story, and I was invested in the gameplay.
This is one of the first Call of Duty titles where I actually cared what happened by the end of the game, and for me- that’s something entirely new to experience with this franchise. Never have I cared so much about the world and characters in a Call of Duty title, like I did in Black Ops II.
Coming from someone who has never been a loyal fan to the series, I give the Black Ops II single player campaign two chubby thumbs up.
The Complete Black Ops II Review
Because this review grew to be so lengthy, I have split it into three parts. You can find direct links to the other portions of the review below.
If you haven’t already, remember to check out the other portions of this review: