Treyarch has taken a big risk by having Call of Duty: Black Ops II go from a Cold War themed shooter to a futuristic shooter while completely altering the gameplay, this gamble actually pays-off as it brings a new setting to the series.
Many were stunned when it was revealed that Black Ops II would be set during two time periods while leaving them wondering how will the new futuristic setting work out. It was understandable that some may take a disliking to the new setting while many were quick to call it a knock-off of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
To say Black Ops II is a game changer would be a gross understatement. This new installment brings more then just a new setting but also a new gameplay setup along with one of the most thought provoking stories.
Story is broken into two time periods and it goes back and forth between the story of Alex Mason during the Cold War circa 1980’s and to that of his son, David Mason, in the year 2025. Both are on the hunt for the arms dealer, Raul Menendez who has been selling weapons to terrorist to fund his secret war against the West.
Starting in the 1980’s; Alex Mason and the CIA are in purist of Raul Menendez after learning about his activists with the MPLA during the Angola Civil War. Following the first encounter, Special Operations Group makes several attempts to capture him first during the Soviet-Afghan War and Operation Just Cause. However all of these attempts end in either failure or disaster. In 2025, Menendez has become a revolutionary figure empowering those who are oppressed by the 1%. In truth he is trying to orchestrate a war between America and the Peoples Republic of China. David Mason and the SEAL’s are trying to uncover his plot and stop it before the world is torn apart by a major global conflict.
Thanks to the talents of David S. Goyer, Black Ops II has one of the strongest story in the series. It’s one that makes players care about the people you interact with while also giving them a multilayered personalities. These are not stereotypical heroes and villains that have been encountered in past titles but characters who are victims of political struggles who are forced into an unwanted situation.
In the end, Black Ops II is nothing more then a tale of how the desier for revenge creates a never ending circle of violence.
The best example of this is Raul Menendez, one of the most multilayered and symptomatic villains of any video game. He is a byproduct of American foreign policy in Central America and years of CIA blowback. He has had many run ins with the West but his boiling point was hit when the Special Operations Group botched a raid on his compound which resulted in the death of his sister. But unlike other villains in the series, he actually does regret some of his actions with the most notable is the remorse he has for killing Alex Mason in front of David, thus emotionally scaring him. Despite being enemies, Menendez dose not taunt or mock David over the death of his father but instead shows regret.
However the only problem with the story is that David S. Goyer seemed to have recycled his criticism of the Occupy-movement used in the Dark Knight Rises in the most laziest way possible. Black Ops II plot dose not carry the deep thinking sentiment that allows it to compare Occupy with Jacobinism but instead Goyer has dumb down the movement as a simple collection of anarchists and hippies.
The gameplay uses the classic formula but also improves on it as each level requires players to do more then shot waves of enemy soldiers as it features a verity of different gameplay elements. New to the series is a weapons load-out that allows gamers to pick the gear that they feel will best fit them. On the multiplayer section, a new gameplay mode has been introduced that allows players to only play the NukeTown map (does more need to be said).
All this makes Black Ops II the best game in the series as Treyarch has pushed it to the pinnacle of perfection.
Following the success of Modern Warfare 3, one would have assumed the series has peaked but Black Ops II puts those thoughts to rest. The game demonstrates that series is capable of pushing new boundaries in terms of story and gameplay.
Final Score: 10/10
Disclaimer: The game used for this review was purchased at GameStop.