Another year, another sequel to Call of Duty. This year's rendition, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, brings the series into a frightening future where the United States is decimated by its own combat drones.
Here's what you need to know about Activision's next big blockbuster:
With Black Ops 2, the Call of Duty series has completely broken away from its roots as a historical shooter. The game is set in 2025, and focuses on David Mason, the son of the protagonist in the original Black Ops. A cold war has been brewing between the United States and China over rare earth elements, which has caused the United States to build an army of unmanned drones for protection. This plan goes sour, however, when a political activist named Raul Menendez takes over the drones and uses them to attack both countries, hoping to incite a war. All of this sets the stage for the usual twitchy gunplay for which Call of Duty is known, but with more robots and futuristic weaponry.
But this time, the game offers a twist: a set of so-called Strike Force missions, interspersed throughout the game, can affect the outcome of the plot. In these missions, players jump between soldiers and vehicles to carry out objectives. Win or lose in these missions, the game goes on, so players can actually worsen the outcome in single-player by failing at Strike Force.
Of course, many players will ignore the Black Ops 2 single-player campaign and head straight to the game's online multiplayer mode. The main attraction here is a new create-a-class system, which lets players customize their loadouts with any ten items. For instance, players can carry one fewer weapon in exchange for an extra perk or grenade, or stock up on weapons by sacrificing perks. Gamervets.com already has an online calculator to figure out class loadouts. If you want to see what multiplayer looks like, IGN's YouTube channel has 8 minutes of action.
As with all other Call of Duty games developed by Treyarch, Black Ops 2 also has a Zombie Mode. The traditional Survival game type returns, but also available is a new game type, called Tranzit, where players try to fend off the undead in an open-world, taking shelter in a bus that they can outfit with barricades and weapons. Official Xbox Magazine has a thorough overview of the new Zombie Mode with more details.
The release date for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is November 13 on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC. The game is also coming to Nintendo's Wii U on the console's U.S. launch day, November 18.
Pre-ordering the game from Amazon, Best Buy, Gamestop, Target, Toys R Us, or Walmart provides access to an additional multiplayer map called Nuketown 2025, which is based on a popular map from the original Black Ops. It also provides double experience points in multiplayer during the game's opening weekend.