Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Review, Part Deux

John Escudero weighs in after having played through Black Ops II. The review is positively glowing.

In a stunningly beautiful continuation of the Black Ops story, Black Ops II gives us a “Then and Now” style narrative, jumping between the past heroics of Mason Sr. and the futuristic 2025 “modern day” heroics of Mason’s son, David, as he struggles to catch “the one that got away” from Mason Sr. and his group so many years ago. I’ll try to stick to a spoiler-free zone, but I’m about to throw some basics in, so bear with me.

The main story takes place in 2025 and takes us from Nicaragua to Haiti, from Los Angeles to a futuristic floating island resort for the super rich called Colossus. Your partners in arms for the modern day timeline include Michael Rooker (who you probably recognize as Merle from The Walking Dead) and the Admiral who is your commanding officer is voiced by Tony Todd, who has had multiple roles in various Star Trek series and episodes (perhaps best known as Worf’s brother Kern), and who we all know and love from his role in Chuck as well. There are also some real life politicians and officers portrayed, some of whom are played by themselves, so the cast is as amazing as the rest of the game is.

Now, to the nitty gritty:

Story:                       *No spoilers, only commentary*

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The story is full of drama, excitement, and some very believable characters. They are driven, you can see their point of view (most of the time, which is still a huge improvement to a lot of videogames) and the glimpses into both the past and future are both believable and as accurate as you’d want them to be, considering we probably don’t REALLY want to know what happened since a lot of that is classified and then the CIA or the FBI might come and take us away (you know, if they can make time between socialite parties and emailing their mistresses – BAM), so… yeah.

The story doesn’t just continue with the same characters as Black Ops, but also makes mention of the original in key places, both as a reference in-story and just sort of making fun too. There’s one point where you’re in an interrogation room that looks familiar if you look around closely: it’s extremely similar to the one from Black Ops that is prevalent in the menu as well as the story.


The graphics are spectacular, I can’t stress it enough. Everything from the environments, the water droplets on the ‘camera’ as you make your way in the rain and the level of detail on the reeds and grass you are hiding in. The details in the characters themselves are good and you can clearly and easily make out who the actors are voicing the prominent parts if you’ve seen them before. The different controls as you take over different vehicles and drones are beautiful to look at and easy to lose yourself in and just be in the moment of the game, almost as good as being there.


When it comes to controlling how you move around, they stuck with what has always worked. The controls are classic as most first-person shooters are and the only thing I fumbled with is my own lack of mêlée ability in Call Of Duty games. I’m too used to Halo, where the punch/attack is a button instead of an L3 press. I also loved the amount of weapons and customization you’re able to do and it only gets better as you unlock more with each mission and with different challenges per mission.

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The challenges are good, though some are not easy at all. To add even more of a challenge to the game, there’s a secondary set of missions with a different play-through style. They are more strategy than survival and they allow you to control anyone and everyone on the field who’s on your side, including drones and stationary turrets. They range from pure defense, securing locations, infiltrating and taking control of places and/or hacking enemy tech to disable it and allow a strike. These are, in many ways, harder than the storyline part of the campaign and they only allow a certain amount of tries to pull them off. Take them seriously and think of the tactics and survival more than the kills and you’ll do fine.

I also enjoyed that, while there are “recommended” weapons for every level, you can change your weapons and even weapon types every time. So if you’re like me and would rather have an Assault Rifle to a Machine Gun, or a Sniper Rifle instead of a Handgun as a second weapon, you’ll love this as much as I did.

There was one major glitch in my run-through of the game that you might need to watch out for.  It happened when, in-story it was necessary to take over a couple of drones in order to survive. One of them is called Brutus, the other Maximus. The glitch was that, once my extraction team got there, I couldn’t leave the drone interface. I was stuck inside Brutus’ controls. You were supposed to be able to switch back and forth between the drones, but when the glitch happened it stopped the switching back and forth too. And to make it worse, it saved right there, so I couldn’t restart from a checkpoint.

But, I did get out of it and I’ll tell you how just in case you come upon it:

Brutus is on top of a warehouse roof. The roof has several skylights. The only way to get out of Brutus when it happened was to shoot out the skylight’s glass, have Brutus stand completely on the skylight, and keep firing grenades at it. At the time, there’s also a guy inside the warehouse underneath you who is shooting at Brutus with a rocket launcher. He keeps shooting you (and the skylight) and you keep shooting the skylight (and sort of yourself). Eventually the skylight breaks, Brutus becomes scrap, and you go back to yourself. It sounds more fun than it is, especially since I had no idea if it would work.

One glitch in a masterfully made game and for all I know it was caused by my not killing the guy with the rocket launcher with the other drone before switching to Brutus.

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The game allows for two possible endings, so I am dying to go back and see the alternate ending to what I saw, but even without that the controls are fluid, the graphics amazing, the story compelling… It already had plenty of reasons to go back and enjoy it again.


The music is beautiful, reminds us of Black Ops during fight sequences, but also had some actual songs (like, with lyrics and words and stuff) that added a lot to the feel of it, more like a movie and less like a video game. The choice for the end credits song was a bit unusual, I think, but somehow it fit. It is a very good rendition and beautiful, but as the lyrics show (in Spanish) it’s a lullaby. It fits perfectly into the story, with everyone’s motivations and the feelings from the whole thing, just thought it was an interesting choice. And while I’m speaking of the credits, I did find it the tiniest bit annoying that the end sequence is interrupted every few seconds by a full screen “fade to names in credits and nothing else” and then back to the end sequence video. While I understand the style they were going for, I think the credits displaying over the video at the bottom of the screen in some less invasive way would’ve been a better way to go. That’s just my opinion, though.

While this has little to do with the music, I did like the bad guys speaking Spanish, since it let me know what they were doing, what they were saying and made me laugh in some parts. Sometimes it pays to be Hispanic. I did find one thing unusual, which is somewhere in the beginning of the game, there are a couple of enemies nearby speaking Spanish. Then two more up ahead are speaking something else, probably Portuguese, and then the rest go back to Spanish. While Portuguese and Spanish are pretty close, and I might have just heard wrong, it seemed kind of cool they threw it in there considering both languages spoken where the action was taking place.


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Story: 10/10Graphics: 10/10Gameplay: 9/10Replay: 9/10Music: 9/10

Overall: 9.5 / 10