Call of Duty Black Ops II begins in the year 2025 and Special Forces unit members David Mason and his partner Harper have arrived at The Vault, home to retired Sgt Frank Woods, who tells you about this game’s major bad guy, Raul Menendez. Woods tells you that Menendez visited him, and gives you a locket that Menendez had left behind. Woods also narrates all of the 1980s missions, and the scene is set.
Well, I say you are David Mason, but that’s how it felt in these particular scenes because, when it comes to playing those missions during the decade that fashion forgot, you take the role of Alex Mason (Sam Worthington), from the previous ‘Black Ops’ title.
When it comes to who’s playing who, this time round, I remember the previous title saw Ed Harris playing the role of your partner-in-war Hudson, yet I can’t see him named in this year’s game and it doesn’t sound like him again. However, one of Hollywood’s meanest-looking bad guys, the superb Michael Rooker, still best-known for the wonderful Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, plays Harper/Nelson here. Additional star names come from Candyman‘s Tony Todd as Briggs and Shawshank Redemption‘s Clancy Brown as a Strike Force Soldier.
The 1080p high-definition graphics and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound are unsurpassable as always, the latter providing explosive (literally) sound effects and the ambience is brilliantly performed, even in the quietest moments. You die a lot in this game but it certainly has that ‘one more go’ factor and it’s hard to tear yourself away.
It’s very well-annointed with checkpoints – which is good due to, as I mentioned, the fact that you’ll die frequently if you don’t pay attention.
Grenades will drop at your feet from time to time, particuarly if you’re in a position where you can hide behind something as the enemy will want to rub you out. Press the right shoulder button to pick them up and toss ‘em back!
Random irritiations about the game include the fact that you have to reload some of your weapons far too quickly – every few seconds, it seems, so unless you reduce the difficulty level, you’re bound to die often as the enemy seems to have tons of ammo. At least this time I haven’t had the same problem with ‘World at War’ where I couldn’t enter open enemy huts, due to the odd programming, but I have got trapped in the graphics once or twice when trying to get right down on the ground to avoid gunfire.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the game plus conclusions.
When it comes to the campaign mode, it’s cool to play when the action’s a-blazing, but there feels to be too many scenes where it lurches into a CGI movie, especially mid-level back to the retired Sgt Frank Woods.
Similarly, while I know it’s important to the storyline that we hear Woods filling us in, the game does feel like it jumps around too much and, thus, feels rather disconcerting plot-wise.
Also, even when you’re surrounded by other men in your platoon, early on you still feel like you’re on your own rather than part of a team, so you may as well be playing a truly single-player game. Later this aspect gets a bit better, however.
One particular gripe I have is that if Call of Duty: Black Ops II is meant to work in stereoscopic 3D, why is the option greyed out? It may be because I can only output from my Xbox 360 in component, but Assassin’s Creed III didn’t have this problem, so why does this game?
Multiplayer-wise, as well as the expected regular multiplayer maps and the zombie-infiltrated ones, there are also Strike Force Missions, which play out in a similar style to conventional multiplayer, but on your own with the RPG element to position your men, either individually or collectively, as well as taking control of the CLAW, a sort of mech-droid which can be sent in to dispatch the bad guys without causing loss of human life.
Overall, you’ve still to buy this release, but it’s just not quite as good as the previous ‘Black Ops’ title.
In addition to the game footage above and below, you can also visit my DVDfeverGames Youtube channel for many more gaming videos.
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: £44.99 (Xbox 360, PS3), £34.99 (PC)
- Players: 1-4, Co-op 2-4, system link 2-18, online 2-18
- HDTV options: 720p/1080i/1080p
- Features: game-content download, leaderboards, spectator mode, voice, 3D support
Director: Dave Anthony
Producer: CJ Connoy
Writers: Dave Anthony, David S Goyer, Craig Houston and Micah Wright
Music: Trent Reznor and Jack Wall
Alex Mason: Sam Worthington
Jason Hudson: Michael Keaton
Mike Harper: Michael Rooker
Frank Woods: James C Burns
Raul Menendez: Kamar de los Reyes
David ‘Section’ Mason: Rich McDonald
Admiral Tommy Briggs: Tony Todd
Javier Salazar: Celestin Cornielle
Chloe ‘Karma’ Lynch: Erin Cahill
Farid/Mujahideen Soldier: Omid Abtahi
DeFalco: Julian Sands
Jonas Savimbi: Robert Wisdom
Tian Zhao: Byron Mann
Manuel Noriega: Benito Martinez
Secretary of Defense: Jim Meskimen
Premier Chen: James Hong
Lev Kravchenko: Andrew Divoff
President Bosworth: Cira Larkin
Himself: Lt. Col. Oliver L North
Pilot Anderson/Dispatcher: Jennifer Hale
Young David Mason: Hayden Byerly
Himself: Jimmy Kimmel
Strike Force Soldier/Navy Seal/Doorman/Multiplayer: Brian Bloom
Strike Force Soldier: Al Rodrigo
Strike Force Soldier: Clancy Brown
Strike Force Soldier: Michelle Rodriguez
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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