The story opens up with the haunting track “The Night Will Always Win” by Elbow as we see a glimpse of Raul Menendez, the game’s main antagonist’s back story. The characters introduced in the first Black Ops title return, although playing the previous game is not necessary to follow the story. What transpires after the opening scenes is the trademark non-stop action formula we have come to expect from the Call of Duty franchise that takes the player all over the world across four continents and several decades. To address previous criticisms of low replayability value and strictly linear gameplay, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 introduces action dependent adventure, ensuring multiple endings and narratives that branch out. While the game itself is mostly “on-a-rail” and quick-time events are still present, the storyline is well-written and directed enough that it remains compelling and balances out the lack of gameplay mechanics inherent in the Call of Duty formula.
The ever popular Zombie mode introduced first in Call of Duty: World at War title makes a return with new added game modes. The original survival mode remains while the new “Tranzit” mode allows players to play multiple maps accessed by an automated bus transit system. The third mode is the “Grief” mode which pits a pair of four player teams against each other, as well as Zombies.
In multiplayer mode, the create-a-class system has been tweaked to be “pick 10”, giving users 10 points to distribute to the weapons and skills they wish. There are also wildcards which require additional points but allows extra perks or attachments and more. You can even choose to just rock your melee weapon which doesn’t cost a point and just invest on perks and pick up guns from dead bodies along the way. The Pick 10 system is also balanced in the fact that additional perks have no effect on weapons anymore so weapon damage is the same coming from everyone and is only affected by additional attachments.
In terms of kill streak rewards, players now gain them from the total score instead of just for killing, meaning more decisive and deliberate players can get as much chance to earn a reward as the gung-ho player who is out for blood. Kill Confirmed mode, introduced in Modern Warfare 3 makes a return, as well as the classic Deathmatch, Free-for-All, Capture-the-Flag, Domination, Search & Destroy, Headquarters, and Demolition mode. There is also one additional mode called “Hardpoint”, which is essentially Headquarters mode with respawn enabled and random placement. Multi-team gameplay is also now available for Team Deathmach, Kill Confirmed and Hardpoint modes. Party games aka Wager match mode is back as well for users who want to wager their points but now also have the added benefit of ranking up, unlike in the previous Black Ops game.
Treyarch has also worked to revamp theater mode, allowing users to bookmark, edit and create highlight reels and has an integrated “CodCasting” option so users can immediately share their gameplay videos through YouTube. Black Ops II also adds “CoD TV”, a CoD video portal built into the game allowing users to see the most popular videos, subscribe to channels and give feedback ala YouTube.