It's just as good if not better than the original "Black Ops".

User Rating: 9 | Call of Duty: Black Ops II X360
The most ambitious "Call of Duty" ever produced is Treyarch's best entry yet despite a few misteps. In 2010, the development team finally hit gold with their own spin on modern warfare with the original "Black Ops". With that stylish actioner, Treyarch had created a pretty good FPS that held its own against Infinity Ward's superb efforts. A dark, psychological drama set against the backdrop of the Cold War, BO proved to be a massive hit with both critics and players alike. Yet, one could argue that Treyarch hadn't stretched their talents enough; "Black Ops" feels indebted to the "Modern Warfare" games with its similar levels and ideas. It's a great game, but Infinity Ward's fingerprints seem to be all over it. However, that simply isn't the case with "Black Ops II". This is Treyarch's magnum opus and while some would call it good rather than great, I have to say that I'm rather impressed with what the developer has accomplished. This is most original COD game since the first "Modern Warfare".

"Black Ops II" hints at the inevitiable "Future Warfare" series that Activision may have planned since it takes place in the year 2025. Well, partly. The game's narrative switches between the future and the late 1980's. The plot involves one Raul Menendez, a Nicguarian political activist who uses his power to manipulate governments and begin World War III. The simple story is made intriguing by the developers' decision to make the antagonist a rather tragic figure. As for the gameplay, it follows the same "point and shoot" formula of the series, but Treyarch have made some rather bold changes in direction. The most obvious is the "Terminator"-like scenario of the future. James Bond-like gadgets and guns are featured in the 2025 chapters, but the optional RTS levels, non-linear paths and multiple story branches help make the experience feel slightly new.

While the campaign isn't as bombastic as the "Modern Warfare" games (or the original BO for that matter), it does manage to deliver some satisfying thrills. Unlike previous entries, you are given a chance to customize your loadout before each level. The RTS levels (named Strike Force), however, aren't too exciting. They don't offer too much variety in terms of goals and options. As with any RTS game, you must stop hordes of enemies by commanding units to either attack or guard territories. How the game ends depends on how many Strike Force levels you completed and mastered, and what choices you made during the branching moments. The campaign of "Black Ops II" features several different endings which gives it major replayablity.

The robust multiplayer portion of BO II also contains a few differences from its predecessors. The same modes from previous iterations return (including the popular Party Games from BO 1), but certain details have slightly changed. For instance, players are now given 10 slots to fill when it comes to customization. The new wildcard system can be used to outfit weapons with several attachments or use several perks of one set at once. Also, instead of "killstreaks" (killing a preset number of enemies), "scorestreaks" now determine when you can unleash "power moves" (my term). Additionally, this latest entry introduces "League Play", a new tournament-like mode that matches you with players of similar skill. The game features extensive stats, challenges, customizable emblems and a theater mode that you can use to edit films and podcast rounds. There is dozens of options and unlockables available in the online experience.

Lastly, "Zombies" also makes it welcome return with three different maps and three different modes (one supports up to 8 players). It plays mostly the same to previous versions, but stats are now featured in addition to match customization options. You can use theater mode and can podcast the zombie matches. Overall, "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" is the most feature-packed COD to date. It may not feel as fresh as the first "Call of Duty" or "Modern Warfare" chapter, but how could it? This is another solidly entertaining entry in the COD series and fans should be pleased with it.