Another year, another Call of Duty game. This time it’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II, the sequel to 2010′s Black Ops. Realistically, however, it’s pretty similar to every Call of Duty game produced since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare debuted in 2007, when the series took a serious turn away from its World War II-themed roots.
For history buffs like me, it’s also when Call of Duty took a turn for the worse. Fighting for Mother Russia on the banks of the Volga and scaling the foreboding cliffs of Utah beach just seemed so much more immersive than picking off droves of faceless ‘turrists’ in Obamastan. But, that’s just me.
Certainly, the Modern Warfare games (Black Ops included) have been extremely popular, not so much for their mindless single player campaigns as for the addictive multiplayer scenarios they offered. Modern Warfare helped pioneer the idea of ranking up weapons and abilities with combat experience, a concept that has since been adopted and taken in new directions by the makers of Battlefield and Halo.
Like the iPhone, Modern Warfare is now so popular that its makers assume we need a new one each and every year. And as long as they sell like they do (Black Ops II is reportedly the most pre-ordered game in Amazon’s history), they’ll keep making them.
To its credit, Black Ops II does add some unique gameplay elements not seen by Call of Duty gamers before. The single player campaign provides gamers with a series of subtle though noticeable choices and the decisions players make directly impact how later scenarios unfold.
Aside from that, however, there’s not much new to the experience. According to Giant Bomb reviewer Jeff Gerstmann, “Strip away the interesting wrapper and, well, you’ve got something that pretty closely resembles the tone and pacing of most Call of Duty campaigns.”
That means lots of surround sound-rattling explosions, stunning graphics, and methodical point-and-shoot gameplay. As with most Call of Duty games, Black Ops II is a technical masterpiece. It sounds and looks great.
The average score on Gamerankings.com: 87.77 percent (Xbox 360), with the consensus being that the game presents enough refreshment to warrant a purchase.