Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Review

black_ops_2_box_artActivision and Treyarch have done again in this sequel to the original Call of Duty Black Ops. Join me as I go through the only thing that matters about the Call of Duty series – the online game play. You can keep your Campaign, or shoot hordes of  Zombies. For me its all about playing online that makes the game.This Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Review goes through the game and the online multi player experience.


What is Call of Duty?

Call of Duty is one of the most popular FPS (First Person Shooter) games out today.  The game is played on every major console Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo’s Wii U,  and on the PC. It has one of the largest fan bases for a shooter out today.  Although it has a Campaign mode – what makes the game so wildly popular is the Online Multi Player aspect of it. You can go online and play other players from around the world in different objective game types. These range from Free For All, Team Death match, Search & Destroy, Domination, to newer game types Kill Confirmed and HardPoint. I’ll go into great detail later.


black_ops_2_campaignIn this latest installment of the series, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 fast forwards to the very near future 2025.  In it terrorists the “Cordis Rie” hack and cripple China’s Stock Exchange creating a new Cold War. To make matters worse the “Cordis Die” try inciting a new World War between NATO and China. It is up to you David Mason and your Special Forces unit to stop the Cold War, and take down the “Cordis Die” leader Raul Menendez. Sure there was the whole “choose your own adventure” aspect to the game, and depending on how you do certain things in the game will change the outcome of the ending. And of course there was the whole level where you got to ride Ponies

Playing the campaign and having to switch from the FPS mode to “Strike Force” or the over head RTS modes was a pain in the ass and I always found myself switching back to FPS mode so I could take out the enemy as the AI on my team were about as smart as marshmallows.

But I’m not here to play “My Little Pony” with my AK-47 – and I could care less if the Chinese Stock Market crashed.


I want to play Multi Player!   Oh wait – There is another mode besides Multi player though? Oh yea that’s:


black_ops_2_nuketown_zombiesZombies originally started with Treyarch’s Call of Duty: World at War in 2008. In it you were fending off hordes of Nazis that have risen as the undead.  You could play with 3 other players in Co-Op mode either in a “Split Screen” or playing online.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 version has changed to more like Left 4 Dead or like AMC’s The Walking Dead. With the introduction of different story lines and game types you now get a whole different experience with Zombies. The upcoming DLC “Uprising” is going to be featuring a new Zombie “episode” called “Mob of the Dead” You can see the trailer below:

Now I enjoy playing Zombies every now and then. Sure its fun to shoot mindless waves of the undead. But for me there is only one mode that makes Call of Duty worth playing and that is:

Multi player

This is where the game is really at. Sure you can sit there in Single Player and try and stop the Cold War. Or you can shoot the undead to your hearts content. For me its all about the online game play. You can keep your undead and I could care less about the potential World War between Nato and China.

I just want to shoot some people online.

And yes as wrong as that sounds – millions of players feel exactly the same way I do.  I log in to my PlayStation 3 and play for hours (when I can). I’m trying to improve my K/D Kill to Death ratio, earn Badges, work toward Diamond Camo on my weapons, and no matter what I am ALWAYS  trying to do one thing:



Weapons in Black Ops 2 are surprisingly well balanced. Typically in any Call of Duty game you can usually go “The MP7 was way over used in Modern Wafare 3”. I can’t really say that is the case for this game. Sure each gun has different characteristics, fire rates, power etc. I don’t see the same gun being used for EVERY match I play. You end up using a different gun depending on the game mode and map your are playing.

In Call of Duty Black Ops 2 you get a huge variety of Pistols, SMG’s, Assault Rifles, LMG’s, Sniper Rifles and Special weapons like the Riot Shield, Tactical Knife, and War Axe (Tomahawk). All of the weapons are more up to date with today’s technologies whereas in the original Black Ops you were playing a mix of new and old.

Weapon Attachments

black_ops_2_attachmentsYou can earn a variety of weapon attachments in the game. The great thing Black Ops 2 introduced is that instead of using a Perk to reload faster you have to earn the attachment “Fast Mags” for the gun in order to reload quicker. You can still earn all of the basic attachments: Silencer, Extended Mag, Red Dot Sight, Hybrid Site etc.

Treyarch did introduce a few new ones though to the game.

  •  Target Finder –  Marks the enemy in your site so you can easily line up for the kill. The
  • Millimeter Scanner – allows you to see enemies through the wall if they are sitting still.

Weapon Experience

Instead of earning attachments through doing a series of achievements you earn the attachment by leveling up the gun. You can “Prestige” the gun twice to earn the chance to put your clan tag and your custom emblem on it as well.

Weapon Camo

You can also earn different types of camouflage (camo) for your weapons. If you perform all of the requirements you can make your weapons Gold. If you earn all the Gold Camo for a specific weapon class you can then unlock the Diamond camo!

Recently there is also the ability to purchase customized Customized Personalization Packs through Xbox Live or PlayStation 3 store. Like BACON! You can check out everything about the micro items at the Call of Duty website.


Pick Ten Class System

Treyarch has changed things up again. This time with your Create a Class. In the past you were limited to certain abilities, weapons, attachments, tactical, and lethal (explosives) you wanted to use for a class. Now with this system you can completely customize  each class to exactly the way you want it. You can even set it up to where you have two primaries, or extra lethal grenades, or no weapons at all! It is completely up to you!  Just remember you only have the 10 slots to choose from – use them wisely!

Score Streaks

black_ops_2_scorestreaksGone are the day of Kill Streaks. Now you have to earn points in order to call them in. The idea is this will level the playing field for all types of players online. In order to get points you will not only have to kill your opponent, you will have to play the objective in order to earn enough points to get to your Score Streak. The rewards vary from things like UAV, Sentry Guns, Counter UAV, VTOL Warship, Hunter Killers, to Dogs.  Treyarch even brought back the RC Car from Black Ops! You can see all the different Score Streaks offered here from the Call of Duty website.

My personal tip? If you aren’t very good? Keep the Score Steaks low. I typically run UAV, Hunter Killer, Care Package as I can run through them pretty quick.  Plus its fun throwing the “Paper Airplane of Death” toward the opposing team. If you don’t die as much and can earn the points? Then set them as high as you want and bring down the carnage!


Maps are based from different parts of the campaign. You have Aftermath which has the wreckage of buildings found in downtown Los Angeles, to Yemen,  a Village in Pakistan, to Hydro a Dam found in North Korea. The locales are related to the Campaign mode. They also brought back the popular Nuketown – now updated and called Nuketown 2025!


In the online maps you have a finite space in which you face your opponents. There are close quarters or long site lines. Based on the way you like to play you can either find a nice corner to hide in with your sniper rifle or run around with a SMG (Small Machine Gun) or Assault Rifle. Use the cover provided wisely and watch your lanes or you will get caught by that sniper or rusher running behind you!

Overall I enjoy the maps in Black Ops 2. They provide a decent balance for those who like to hang back and snipe you from across the screen or for those who like to get up close and personal with their tactical knife!  Although some maps might be considered off balanced (Turbine) or outright unplayable in some cases for the most part Treyarch has done a great job with them.

Game Modes

In Multi Player there is are many different game modes. I will go over the basic ones below:

  • Free For All – Typically smaller maps. Everyone is on their own. The person who earns the most points wins the match!
  • Team Death Match – Your team of 6 goes against the other team. The team with the most kills wins!
  • Multi Team Death Match – Same principle as TDM except you are playing against two other teams. Teams consist of 3 people. The team with the most points win.
  • Kill Confirmed – This is TDM on steroids! Not only do you have the other team to contend with. After you get the kill you need to confirm it by picking up their dog tag they left on the ground. This mode tends to be a faster gameplay then TDM.
  • Domination – Capture the 3 points on the map A, B, and C. Thats the easy part. The hard part? Holding on to them. In order to win your team needs to hold and capture at least two of them to win!
  • Headquarters – This game mode is your basic 6 player teams. The idea? Capture the bomb that is randomly placed in the map and try and hold on to it. The rub? Once you capture it if you die? Thats it until the enemy destroys the bomb or wipes out your team. Sounds easy sure – until your in the match – then you’ll be crying for your Mommy.
  • Demolition – This is almost like HQ. Except there are two bombs placed. You start out either Defending or you have to capture the bombs. You have 3 minutes per round to either hold onto your bombs or go and capture and destroy them. The team who wins the most rounds wins the match.
  • Search & Destroy – This is one of the most played game modes in Call of Duty. All of the ‘hard core’ players play this. Same prinicpal as HQ or Demo. But you only get one life per round. You either have to go plant the bomb or defend it. Make sure you don’t get caught sleeping in this game mode. If so you won’t be playing it for very long. Your team switches between rounds – so you get to plant the bomb or defend. The team who wins the most rounds wins the match.
  • Hard Point – This mode is like TDM except there is a random area on the map that is designated as the “Hard Point” (go figure?)  The objective? Hold onto that point on the map for as long as you can. The team that is able to score the most points wins.
  • Capture the Flag  – This is just like any other FPS version. If your old school like me you’ll remember this mode in other games like Quake III, Unreal Tournament, or Team Fortress 2. If your new to the FPS world? Your team gets a flag. The opposing team gets one too. The objective? Keep your flag and capture there. The team that captures the most flags wins the round. The most rounds won wins the match.
  • Ground War – This mode is a mosh pit of TDM, Kill Confirmed, and Domination except with bigger teams. Instead of the usual 6 v 6  you’ll be playing in 9 v 9. In this mode you will only be playing in the larger maps in the game.

My favorite game modes to play? Typically I like TDM, Kill Confirmed, or Domination.  The matches tend to go quick and I don’t have to really worry about using tactics. Just grab my gun and run!

Hard Core

You can also play online matches in “Hard Core” mode. This means you lose things like the HUD, and you die a lot faster – typically with just one bullet.  You can play this mode at your own risk! Current types you can play are TDM, Kill Confirmed, and now Domniation with a recent patch.

Party Game Modes

Treyarch brought back the Wager Match  games Sticks and Stones, One In the Chamber, Sharpshooter, and Gun Game. If you played the original Black Ops game you know how these modes work.  If you haven’t played them before? Take a look below.  All of these modes are different versions of Free For All with special rules applied.

  • Sticks and Stones – You get a Crossbow, Tactical Knife, and a War Axe (Tomahawk). The objective – humiliate your enemy with the War Axe, Kill them with your Crossbow or Tactical Knife. The person with the most kills wins the match.
  • One in the Chamber – You have your Tac .45 Pistol. You only have ONE ROUND. Make it count! If you get the shot – you get another bullet. If not? How good are you with a knife? If you can manage to sneak up on someone you can earn another bullet that way too. Otherwise? Its three deaths and your out! Last man standing or most points wins the match.
  • Sharpshooter – How is your shot? With this game mode your weapon swaps out every 45 seconds. You earn perks for every kill you make. Die and you lose the perks. What makes this game interesting is you never know what weapon or attachment you will end up getting after the timer goes down. The player with the most kills wins!
  • Gun Game – With this game you start out with a revolver and with each kill you make the gun will swap out with the next one in the list. You’ll go through the different types of Pistols, Shotguns, SMGs, Assault Rifles, LMG’s, Sniper Rifles, Rocket Launcher, Crossbow, and finally the Tactical Knife.  The first person who is able to run through all of the different gun types first wins the game. The kicker is you can give them a setback if you can manage to knife them. Kind of hard to do if they have worked their way up to a Sniper Rifle though!

League Play

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 introduced League play that is completely separate from the other game modes. This is more for the “professional” gamer. If you get to the top of the brackets in this mode -you get the prestige of saying you really are #1 and you’ll get a badge in your combat record to go with it!

Prestige, Custom Emblems, and ELITE

black_ops_2_prestige_iconsIn the game you can earn achievements, camos for your weapons, prestige after leveling up, create custom emblems, and of course track it all using Call of Duty Elite.


In Black Ops 2 you level up by earning points throughout playing the game. After you hit level 50 you get the chance to Prestige – which starts you over at that Prestige Level. You get to do this 10 times with this game. And it is not quite as easy as you think. When you Prestige? You start over – you lose everything you worked for until you unlock it again. The good news is your weapons don’t start at square one like you do.

Custom Emblems

The original Black Ops provided you the ability to create customized emblems that show up when you play online. People have been able to get quite creative with this. You an see everything from people’s favorite professional teams, to brands, favorite cartoons, or just even to the point of abstract art. Unfortunately there are those who abuse the system – and I won’t mention how sick and twisted some people’s imaginations can get.


Call of Duty ELITE

What makes Call of Duty Black Ops 2 even more awesome? The ability to check your stats, pictures, game captures online! You can even download the app from either iTunes or Google Play for your smart phone or tablet!

The Downside of Playing Online

As much as I love the game and have a lot of fun playing online? There are some downsides to playing online. I’ve listed them below:


black_ops2_lagLAG is the delay of your connection while inside of the game. In the old days you would have to dial up using your land line and a modem. Then you would join a match with other friends and if you had a terrible connection  That was called LAG. Unfortunately the way the game has been designed there is really no way to stop the lag in the game. You are dependent upon one player acting as both the “Host” and as one of the players in the game. This is pushing a LOT of information and creates a poor online experience with the other players in the match.

Unfortunately the only real way to fix this is to have centralized servers and that would cost either Activision or the Console providers too much money. Plus it would require a complete re-write of the game itself.


The more popular the game the more rampant cheating will happen. This seems to be Murphy’s Law of Video Games. With Call of Duty Black Ops 2 there are a lot of people who cheat in the game. The most common one is called the “lag switch” where they manipulate the connection and causes them to jump all over the screen making it virtually impossible to kill that player.  Other exploits that happen are those who cheat to get to “Master Prestige”, or those who use an exploit to get their weapons Diamond camo without actually doing all of the necessary requirements.

Racism, Cursing, and Little Kids

I’m good with trash talking. Trash talk is part of  what makes the game great.  It’s when I hear the racial epithets,  rampant name calling/cursing, or when it comes from LITTLE KIDS who are obviously too young to be playing this type of game it ruins the online experience.  I’m not saying to keep it clean but lets try and keep it at least a little bit civil online?

Pro Tip for Parents: The ESRB is set to TEEN for a reason for Call of Duty Black Ops 2. I would not let anyone under the age of 15 play this game online.

Overall Thoughts

As you can see there is a lot of great new content and features for Call of Duty Black Ops. From changing it up in the campaign, re-thinking how you play Zombies, and of course my favorite playing Online. Treyarch has really outdone themselves. Black Ops 2 has definitely been able to top the original Black Ops in many ways. When things are running right the game is awesome. When you are stuck in a lobby filled with cheaters or if there is a lot of LAG the game is completely unplayable.   So its a frustratingly awesome experience. With this game it is the one you will love to hate.

What are your thoughts on Black Ops 2? Leave a comment below!

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