Like father, like son
Two eras, two generations, one war. Call of Duty: Black Ops II shows that when it comes to revenge, time is no obstacle to Nicaraguan terrorist Raul Menendez, and a campaign stretching across more than three decades flashes by in a series of pulse-pounding missions on PlayStation 3.
Panama, 1989, and the stage is set for a bitter tale of deception and vengeance that will last over 30 years. Special forces agent Alex Mason, unflappable star of 2010's Call of Duty: Black Ops on PS3, has tracked Menendez down to his home. In the fierce fighting that follows, tragedy lights a rage in Menendez that will have far-reaching effects.
Fast-forward to 2025, and Menendez has just launched a devastating cyberattack on the Chinese Stock Exchange. China responds by banning the export of the rare earth elements so crucial to global technology – and the world stands on the brink of a new Cold War.
Alex Mason's son David, himself a Navy SEAL, leads a squad tasked with stopping Menendez. As he storms through the game's thrilling chapters, you realise the link between the terrorist and the two Masons is far more than just coincidence.
Reach beyond the screen
In true Call of Duty style, you'll witness a deadly, worldwide game of cat and mouse from a number of angles. Switching between the 1980s and the 2020s, you'll see things from the Masons' perspectives as well as a number of other key characters', and as you flit from one time or continent to another, these viewpoints help to quickly fill the picture in for you.
You'll need every second too. As bullets whizz past your ears and enemy troops shout out commands to one another, the start of a new mission can be chaotic. You can rely on detailed sound design and a crystal clear visual style to give you all the information you need, however, so that you can concentrate on finding cover and planning your next assault.
Stereoscopic 3D also plays a big part here, especially in the futuristic missions. Connect your PS3 to a 3D TV and advanced weapon sights will show the outlines or heat signatures of nearby enemies, helping you judge their distance from you. And when it comes to slugging it out in the desert at one point, you'll almost feel every blow as it lands.
War in the shadows
Abseil into the thick of a Central American war zone, command futuristic tanks remotely, brave blazing firefights in underground facilities and battle the after-effects of a government brainwashing programme, barely stopping to smear on fresh face camo. The pace never lets up in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, so you have to create your own breathing space. Take aim, squeeze the trigger, sprint for cover and exhale.
Switching continents and eras in a blur, you'll fight a war on several fronts, with each mission appearing more suicidal than the last. Charging through the Afghan desert on horseback, for instance, you suddenly see a long barrel appear over the crest of a hill, followed by the hulking form of a gigantic Russian tank. Your only option is to head straight for it; the odds aren't exactly in your favour, but then, in this game, they never are.
Special perks and customisable weapons – new additions to the single player story – let you access secret ammo stores, reload faster or even adjust your rifle's camouflage. And in the new, optional Strike Force missions, you can take a step back from the front line and order infantry squads and hi-tech combat machinery to assault critical targets. Success in these could even help you out later in the game.
Zombies are back with a bang in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, as three different modes bring a dash of blind panic to traditional online running and gunning. Gather up your last reserves of courage and prepare to storm PlayStation Network in the following modes:
- Tranzit: Pile into a battered bus with up to three heavily armed friends and blast zombie hordes to pieces as you drive from one map to the next. When the bus judders to a halt, everybody rushes into the surrounding town to look for clues that'll tell you what to do to survive until the next bus pulls up.
- Survival: Traditional this mode may be, simple it isn't. Based on the Zombie modes from both Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty: Black Ops, this drops you into one multiplayer map and asks you to face down wave after wave of bloodthirsty walking corpses.
- Grief: Trouble comes at you from beneath and above the grave. Team up with three mates and take on a group of four zombies, as well as another group of four players. Trap your human opponents in the crossfire or lure the zombies towards them – just make sure you stay out of the way.