Call of Duty: Black Ops II reviews - is it any good?

Nov 13, 2012

Latest sprawling instalment of video game franchise is impressive but inconsistent, say critics

Getty Images

THE LATEST instalment of gaming sensation Call of Duty is released today and is set to become the biggest entertainment release of the year, if not ever, eclipsing anything Hollywood has to offer.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is expected to rack up more than $400m in sales on its first day in stores in the UK and US, and should break the $1 billion barrier within weeks.
The ninth edition of the main Call of Duty franchise, already the most pre-ordered game ever on Amazon, is set in 2025 and revolves around the notion of a 21st Century cold war. The main protagonist is David Mason, the son of Call of Duty character Alex Mason, who is fighting in a world where a war over rare earth elements has led to the destruction of American and China.
The complex set-up features branching storylines where a character's actions can have repercussions much later in the game. There are also stages set in the 1980s, campaigns involving zombies, online multiplayer options and the ability to broadcast a game on YouTube as it unfolds.
"Video games like this are the new action movies. Silicon Valley is the new Hollywood Hills. Call of Duty is about entertainment. About spectacle. About providing the biggest bang for your buck," says Dan Silver in the Daily Mirror.
"And Black Ops II certainly hits its intended targets. It's a spectacular - and often spectacularly silly - shooter for whom no set-up is too implausible and no set-piece is too over the top. It's an FPS [first person shooter] fantasy that, if approached in the right manner, is also a fantastic thrill-ride."
Some are not so impressed. The Metro calls it "the most ambitious and innovative Call of Duty for years" but adds: "It's also the most inconsistent."
Now Gamer says the annual Call of Duty release is now a tradition as ingrained as Christmas, but the franchise is starting to feel its age. "The problem is, the story tries to juggle far too many elements, crashing under its own unnecessary complexity."
Xbox 360, the official XBox magazine, is also underwhelmed. "On a purely technical level, Black Ops II is hugely impressive," it says. "Offline, however, it's merely adequate."
But IGN believes the game, developed by Treyarch and published by Activision, is a triumph. "The unparalleled wealth of gameplay options and brilliant twists on the formula have shaped Black Ops II into the most ambitious and exciting Call of Duty ever made."

Sign up for our daily newsletter