Call of Duty: Black Ops II Exclusive Steelbook Edition PC Games
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Released on 13-Nov-2012
Covert combat returns as a future Cold War rages. This is Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is the follow-up to the hugely successful and award-winning Call of Duty: Black Ops. Promising not only the best graphics in the series so far, Call of Duty: Black Ops II on PlayStation 3 ups the ante on every front for the most ambitious Call of Duty experience ever!
- New setting!
- New weapons!
- New bad guy!
- More zombies!
The game continues the tale of Frank Woods, hero of the original Black Ops, as well as various members of the Mason family. The action largely takes place in the year 2025, where a new Cold War is raging and the tools of war have been suitably upgraded, with battle drones on land and in the air, and an arsenal that packs a larger, more accurate punch than the weapons of today.
The historical battles of the original Black Ops do still make an appearance, with events spanning from 1980's Afghanistan right through to the near-future war. Different generations of the Mason family will fight in different eras, but all the missions seem to centre around one man - the new, mysterious villain Raul Menendez.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II promises some big shifts to the traditional Call of Duty gameplay. The campaign mode now features non-linear and branching storylines, where the decisions you make and actions you take informing how the game plays out. Whether it's choosing one option over another, or simply failing to save a single hostage, all your actions have consequences - the biggest one being you can play the game time and again to see the different outcomes unfold!
Add to this more options for how you battle, with the 'run and gun' approach now joined by the chance to drive cars, man gun turrets, ride horses and fly fighter jets. There's also the new Strike Force mode, open-world missions with a series of checkpoints to achieve and the chance to swap between characters - including playing as an all-controlling general. It's like an open-world sandbox, a real-time strategy and a multiplayer map all in one - and it can also affect the outcome of the game!
The multiplayer mode returns, bigger, better, and more adaptable to different skill levels and playing styles for a more inclusive experience. And Zombies also rise from the grave once again, running in multiplayer for the first time for even more ways to defeat the undead!
Everything else is on a need-to-know basis - but all you need to know is that you need to play Call of Duty: Black Ops II!
Is it that time of year already? No, not the annual rush to plaster Christmas all over every shopping centre as soon as the last embers of Bonfire Night have died down, but the traditional November release of a new Call of Duty game. Turning out a new title in a series every twelve months should lead to creative inertia but against the odds, in Black Ops II developer Treyarch has delivered the most invigorated and interesting COD in years.
Fight The Future
As always, the game is divided neatly between its single player campaign and multiplayer modes, with each offering familiar pleasures alongside exciting new flourishes. The story mode, for instance, splits itself between past and future. Some of the missions are told in flashbacks to the 1980s as previous Black Ops heroes Frank Woods and Alex Mason chase down a dangerous terrorist called Raul Menendez against a backdrop of Cold War paranoia. The other missions are set in 2025, and follow David Mason, Alex's son, as he continues the pursuit, with Menendez now older and more calculating, pitching himself as an anti-capitalist cult leader.
All the Call of Duty bombast you expect is here, from the grungy punchiness of the retro missions to the sci-fi tinged thrills of the future levels. There are reliable old weapons here, as well as brilliant new toys that allow you to see and shoot through walls, track enemy heat signatures and more. Fancy adding some spark to your melee attacks? Grab the electric knuckledusters that leave enemies vomiting themselves to death. Nice.
Choose Your Own Adventure
There are changes afoot in the campaign structure as well. There are now six different endings, depending on your choices and actions. Don't worry, COD hasn't gone RPG, but moments of moral choice as well as mission objectives now carry greater weight as you know they can shift the course of the story. This also adds much-needed replay value to the single player side of the game, as do level-specific challenges and leaderboards that track your performance in each stage against your friends. In previous COD games, the campaign was something to bash through on Veteran before sinking into multiplayer. In Black Ops II, Treyarch offers a campaign that you'll come back to more than once.
The maps, too, are more ambitious than before. The old corridor construction still rears its head, along with some annoying checkpoints and a few too many showboating scenes that play out without your input, but frequently there are multiple routes to be found, as well as hidden caches of weapons and intel that genuinely change the way battles play out.
There's even a splash of real-time strategy in the form of Strike Force missions, optional levels that put you in charge of squads, vehicles and turrets. You can hop between each for the personal touch, or issue orders from an overhead tactical map. The AI isn't really up to the task, but as a change of pace and a halfway house between single and multiplayer, they're a welcome addition.
The changes to multiplayer are less dramatic, but no less noticeable. Matches are still fast and brutal, and the maps follow the tight COD template that fans love. What's changed are the systems around the matches. You can now completely customise your loadout, choosing any ten weapons, items, perks and attachments, freeing players from the rigid confines of combat classes (though those are still here).
Killstreaks are gone, replaced by Scorestreaks which reward consistent good play rather than simply the player who is best at headshots. If you're more of a slow and steady player, better suited to meeting objectives and supporting teammates, Black Ops II finally recognises your contribution. Also making the often daunting conflicts more approachable are Combat Training playlists, which mix low level players and AI bots, allowing for an easier climb for new players up to Level 10, after which you'll have unlocked enough features and toys to slip into the main public matches. Think of it as the nursery slopes of multiplayer shooting.
Rise From Your Grave!
Even Zombies mode has been built up into something more substantial. Once a throwaway extra at the end of the single player game, it's rapidly becoming an entire game in its own right. Here, you travel between different locations on a bus, fighting off waves of the undead, unlocking buildings and weapons as you go. It's not quite as robust as the other two sections of Black Ops II, but it's much more than the trivial distraction of old. The best new feature is Grief mode, in which two teams of four players fight the zombies in the same area - but only one human team can leave. Frantic and ruthless, it won't be a surprise to see this branch out into its own title soon.
What's most impressive is how much effort Treyarch has put into addressing long-standing criticisms of the COD formula, and how it's managed to broaden the game's appeal without sacrificing the hardcore on the altar of mainstream gaming. It really is the strongest and most surprising Call of Duty game since the first Modern Warfare, and comes highly recommended to both fans and newcomers alike.
- Vastly improved single player campaign
- Zombies mode is seriously meaty
- Smart, subtle multiplayer tweaks make it fun for everyone
- Strike Force missions could be better
- Some balancing required for multiplayer
- A couple of frustrating single player checkpoints
Answering The Call
It's here! By the time you read this, Call of Duty: Black Ops II will be out. The long wait for Treyarch gaming-goodness will finally be over, and to coincide with a week of launch celebrations, Activision staged a special Call of Duty: Black Ops II Community event for the weekend beginning Friday, 9th November. GAME was invited and attended on the Friday night... and we can confirm that the wait has been well worth it.
So what was on offer on this Friday we speak of? Well, aside from a chance to play Call of Duty: Black Ops II four days prior to its release, there was also the chance to play through the Nuketown 2025 preorder map and, for four very lucky people, the first chance in the UK to sample the much anticipated Zombies feature of the game. Throw in a Black Ops-themed diner (complete with jukebox!) and the bright orange lights of the 'War Room' tournament table (ready to showcase some of the finest gamers in the Community), and the stage truly was set.
The Stars Line Up
After a short period of time allowing for introductions and early practice to take place, the evening's centre-piece demonstration confirmed some of the great new features which will make Call of Duty: Black Ops II the definitive multiplayer experience gamers have been waiting for. After a short chat with none other than Black Ops II star Michael Rooker (screen legend and one of the cast of TV's 'The Walking Dead' - check out our video interview), the evening's emcee, Xbox LIVE legend Graham Boyd (aka 'Acey Bongos') and professional gaming great Mike "hastr0" Rufail got down to it and guided eager attendees through the multiplayer of Black Ops II.
Further to these new options, "hastr0" spoke about the way the games will work, explaining that whilst KDRs and KDR scoring remain important, the "score streaks" awarded for fulfilling objectives will mean that players will be rewarded for playing for both the objectives of the game and playing for their team. Another exciting new feature of multiplayer is the new "Hardpoint" mode (think of it as a 'King of The Hill' style game mode), where players focus on domination and control of one area - amidst chaos and competition.
Watch And Learn
For those of you that love to watch (and learn), there's the all-new "COD Casting", which will allow people to watch in on games. With the game objective & a score that remains present in the corner, alongside the ability to jump from player to player - viewing player streaks and the optional mini-map - spectators can keep up with the action and keep their finger on the pulse at all times. And for those that want their action as authentic as possible, there's also the option to remove the HUD completely. COD Casting once again proves that Treyarch are keeping the multiplayer focus of the game as paramount as ever.
Actually having the opportunity to play Call of Duty: Black Ops II brought it all together. The customisation allows you to play things your way, but the rounded and refined experience is where the multiplayer shines. It feels slicker and smoother than Black Ops, with the sheen and visual polish going hand-in-hand with the updated era of the maps. Control for Black Ops veterans will come instantly, but new players will be able to pick it up too as the controls remain intuitive and in keeping with what you'd expect from a multiplayer experience. The ultra smooth feel takes a bit of getting used to, but it's worth it and it makes Call of Duty: Black Ops II the complete multiplayer package.
The Community launch event was a great success and was a fantastic opportunity for Black Ops fans to come together. Now, who's up for some Call of Duty: Black Ops II?
It's sure to be the biggest game of the year, but is Black Ops II worth your time and money? According to the critics, the answer is a big sweaty "yes", with praise for Treyarch's shooter raining down from all sides.
"Not just a fantastic Call of Duty game, but one of the best shooters of the last decade," says IGN in a 9.3/10 review that points to the numerous tweaks and changes to the COD formula as highlights. "The most ambitious and exciting Call of Duty ever made" is their conclusion.
"Zombies drops you into an intense, expansive world with untold secrets to discover, multiplayer's Pick 10 system and Scorestreaks open up new strategies to exploit, and the single-player campaign warrants repeat visits from its captivating, branching storyline" says GamesRadar's glowing four and a half star review.
Across all of the reviews, much of the praise centres around the decision to lavish attention on the single player campaign, an element that some had felt was becoming irrelevant as Activision capitalised on COD's multiplayer modes. "The elastic story provides plenty of incentive to replay the campaign" reads the 94% review from GameTrailers, concluding that "shooters simply don't get much more deep, varied, surprising, or rewarding than this."
Even if everyone was going to buy Black Ops II anyway, it's great to see that the game itself goes out of its way to deliver value for money.
Five games ideal for escaping the Christmas madness
As you'll no doubt be aware if you've walked down the high street recently, Christmas is coming. The season of hearty cheer, peace and goodwill to all. Except it never really works out like that, does it? Christmas can also be a hellish scrum of last-minute present shopping, fraught family get-togethers and children driven to insanity by toxic levels of sugar and chocolate.
But don't fret! As gamers we have the perfect escape route at our fingertips. Fire up your console or computer, wedge a chair under the door handle and lose yourself in a game immersive enough to blot out the Yuletide yahoos outside. Thankfully, this season's blockbuster crop offers plenty of games with the sort of long term gameplay and enduring appeal needed to keep you sane until January kicks the door in. Here's our pick of the top five festive gaming getaways.
Formats: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U
Out: Now (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360), November 24th (PC), November 30th (Wii U)
It's hard to believe the Assassin's Creed series has only been around for five years but it's quickly grown into a gaming giant, in gameplay as well as sales. This year's trilogy-capping epic promises to the be the biggest yet, an open-world romp through the American War of Independence that also brings to a close the modern day story of history-hopping hero Desmond Miles and his battle to escape the clutches of the Templars. With a vibrant rural community to build and upgrade, not to mention the prospect of commanding your own frigate in naval battles, this is a game with far more to do than just hiding in haystacks and stabbing people. And once you polish off the single-player story, there's the fantastic multiplayer modes - now so large they demand their own disc. Whether you want to roam the forests or battle online, this is a game that will keep you busy well into 2013.
Formats: PC, Mac
Sports Interactive's evergreen soccer simulation has long been the gaming getaway of choice for footy fans everywhere. With its deep, intricate systems and canny knack for capturing the highs and lows, ebbs and flows of the beautiful game, it not only offers months of brilliant gameplay but also creates a compelling alternate reality where your sofa-bound frustration at real-world performance can be transformed into a vindicating "this is how you should do it!" sandbox, as you kick out the manager whose decisions cause you so much anguish and see if you can do a better job. This year's edition is even more detailed, but also comes with the much-praised Classic Mode, stripping the game down to the absolute basics and letting you power through a season in a few days. Perfect for some special alone-time while you wait for that turkey to digest.
Format: Xbox 360
Out: November 6th
We haven't been starved of Halo games, what with Halo: Reach in 2010 and the remastered Halo: Anniversary Edition last year, but the encroaching dark winter nights just haven't been the same without Master Chief, last seen drifting off into deep space at the end of Halo 3 in 2007. Well, he's back, and bigger and better than ever. Halo 4 marks the start of a new story arc - the Reclaimer Trilogy - and it offers multiple ways to spend those awkward hours between opening presents and trudging to bed full of pudding and sweets. A robust single-player campaign is also playable in four-player co-op, and the new Spartan Ops offers even more co-operative goodness, offering regular downloadable spin-off missions in a TV box-set style. And, of course, there's the multiplayer - one of the most rewarding and balanced online games around, now perfected and polished to keep pace with modern multiplayer expectations. This won't just keep you playing over Christmas, it'll keep you playing until Halo 5.
Format: Wii U
Out: November 30th
There's something grimly ironic about the fact that Nintendo's latest console is launching with a gruelling survival horror game alongside the expected cheery and colourful fare. After so many years of the Wii being the default family gaming system, fiendish souls looking to clear the lounge will certainly appreciate the ominous tone and brutal violence that ZombiU offers. Set in London after an undead apocalypse, the game uses the Wii U's tablet controller as a handheld inventory and survival kit, your only lifeline against the shambling, flesh-eating horde. The sight of brain-chomping British bobbies outside Buckingham Palace will scare grandparents away nice and quickly, but gory-minded youngsters may prove harder to shake off. The game's unforgiving difficulty - which includes permanent character death and the need to return to the scene of your demise and battle your zombified body to retrieve your backpack - should send them scurrying for something less taxing, leaving you free to endure the end of the world in blissful peace and quiet.
Formats: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii U
Out: November 13th (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC), November 30th (Wii U)
November is Call of Duty month in the gaming calendar, and this year's offering isn't short of new ideas. The single-player campaign is split between flashback missions set in the 1980s, and stages set in the technologically advanced combat zones of 2025. In these futuristic sections, you'll undertake Strike Force missions which will impact the direction of the story. The horrific co-operative Zombies mode now has its own campaign and supports eight players rather than four. It's in multiplayer where COD has earned its stripes, however, and Black Ops II promises to shake up the enormously popular formula more than any previous game in the series. In come multi-team matches, pitting three or four forces against each other rather than the traditional two-sided battles. Combat classes have been made more fluid, allowing you to pick and choose the abilities and loadouts that suit your play style, while the scoring system has been tweaked to encourage more teamwork and objective-based success, rather than lone wolf soldiers and constant headshots. It's shaping up to be the pinnacle of an already enormously successful series, and if you're planning on sneaking away for a few hours of digital carnage on Christmas Day, you certainly won't be alone.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II - Review (15/11/2012)
It really is the strongest and most surprising Call of Duty game since the first Modern Warfare, and comes highly recommended to both fans and newcomers alike.…
GAME goes to the Call of Duty: Black … (14/11/2012)
to coincide with a week of launch celebrations, Activision staged a special Call of Duty: Black Ops II Community event for the weekend beginning Friday, 9th November. GAME was invited and attended on …
Review Roundup: Call of Duty Black Op… (14/11/2012)
It's sure to be the biggest game of the year, but is Black Ops II worth your time and money? According to the critics, the answer is a big sweaty "yes", with praise for Treyarch's shooter raining down…
Festive Gaming Getaways (02/11/2012)
This season's blockbuster crop offers plenty of games with the sort of long term gameplay and enduring appeal needed to keep you sane until January kicks the door in. Here's our pick of the top five f…
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