Call of Duty: Black Ops II leaps back and forth from CIA and U.S. military missions in the 1980s to an international crisis in 2025. Your moral decisions and successes or failures in both settings determine your ending and whether some of the main characters live long enough to see it.
The narrative is framed by conversations between elderly Frank Woods and David Mason, son of his former partner, Alex Mason. The younger Mason is out to stop supervillain Raul Menendez, with missions in under-siege Los Angeles, flooded Lahore, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Woods recounts his own history with Menendez in flashbacks to Nicaragua, Panama and an exhilarating Afghanistan level where you fire RPGs on horseback.
The branching narrative is complemented by two more wrinkles. "Strike force" missions add in optional real-time strategy and can end in success or failure, leading to different outcomes in the endgame. And for the first time in Call of Duty, players get to choose their weapons before each mission, including unique perks inspired by the series' stellar multiplayer options.
Game play is still mostly of the run and shoot-everything-that-moves variety. Artificial barriers keep you moving in the right direction, despite the illusion of open space. Your allies sometimes still wait for you to kill the last in a wave of enemies, just because.
RATING M for Mature
PLOT Lock and load!
BOTTOM LINE Choices lift latest Call of Duty