Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a first-person shooter video game, developed by Treyarchand published by Activision (Square Enix for Japan). It was released on November 13, 2012 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows and on November 18, 2012 in North America, November 30, 2012 in Europe and Australia for the Wii U.[ Square-Enix released the game for the Japanese market on November 22, 2012 as a subbed version. A Japanese voice-dubbed version was released separately on December 20, 2012. The Japanese release of the Wii U port is only the dubbed version since the console was not available in Japan in November. Black Ops II is the ninth game in the Call of Duty franchise of video games and a sequel to the 2010 game Call of Duty: Black Ops. The game was launched at 16,000 stores worldwide at midnight on November 13, 2012.
Black Ops II is the first game in the Call of Duty franchise to feature future warfare technology and the first to present branching storylines driven by player choice. It also offers a 3D display option. A corresponding game, Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified, was released simultaneously on the PlayStation Vita. Within 24 hours of going on sale, the game grossed over $500 million, beating 2011’s Modern Warfare 3 to become the biggest entertainment launch of all time. It went on to sell 7.5 million copies in November 2012, making it the highest grossing game of the month.
Characters and setting
The single-player campaign features two connected storylines, with the first set from 1986 to 1989 during the final years of the first Cold War, and the other set in 2025 during a second Cold War. The protagonist of Black Ops, Alex Mason returns as the protagonist in the firstCold War section, and chronicles the rise to infamy of the game’s primary antagonist, Raul Menendez, a Nicaraguan narco-terrorist and the leader of “Cordis Die”, a populist movement celebrated as the champion of victims of economic inequality.
The 2025 section of the game features Alex Mason’s son David as the protagonist during a new Cold War between China and the United States. In this era, wars are defined byrobotics, cyberwarfare, unmanned vehicles, and other futuristic technology.
In the year 2025, US Special Forces operatives led by David Mason and his partner, Harper, arrive at “the Vault”, a top-security location home to an aging Frank Woods, whom they suspect possess vital information on the whereabouts of Raul Menendez. Woods concedes that Menendez has recently visited him, and shows them a locket that the latter had left behind. Frank then narrates several covert missions undertaken during his military career which span their previous encounters.
In 1986 Alex Mason had effectively retired from active duty to pursue an obscure existence in Alaska with his son, the seven-year-old David. Their shaky relationship is strained further when Mason is solicited by Jason Hudson, seeking to recruit him for an assignment in Cuando Cubango during the height of theAngolan civil and South African Border Wars. Woods had disappeared with his men while aiding Jonas Savimbi‘s UNITA rebels against Angola’s Marxist government; their actions have already been disavowed by the CIA and Hudson hopes to rescue any survivors. With UNITA assistance, Mason and Hudson recover Woods from the Kavango River, subsequently locating Menendez among a contingent of Cuban military advisers. However, a firefight breaks out, and their quarry escapes as the Americans are rescued by Savimbi in a Hind D. It is revealed that Menendez is responsible for holding Woods captive after murdering his team.
In light of this information, Mason, Woods, and Hudson begin tracking Menendez, who has established himself as a primary arms dealer for bush conflicts in Southern Africa and Latin America. Later in the year, the CIA authorizes a strike against the unscrupulous Nicaraguan, now making a healthy profit running arms across Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Mason, Woods, and Hudson assist the Mujahideen in their battle against the Russians, along with Chinese operative Tian Zhao. Woods and Mason find Lev Kravchenko, who turns out to have survive the grenade incident with Woods in Vietnam, causing Mason to see the numbers and hearing Reznov’s voice again. Kravchenko is interrogated by the group and the player is given the option of executing Kravchenko by Reznov’s orders inside Mason’s head or resisting and finishing the interrogation, in which case, Woods then executes Kravchenko after admitting that he associated with Menendez and that he has men inside the CIA. Regardless of how Kravchenko is killed, the Mujahideen are revealed to be allied with Menendez, and double-cross Mason, Woods, Hudson, and Zhao. The four are beaten, tied, and left for dead in the middle of the desert, unconscious until rescued by civilians, one of whom Mason believed to be Reznov.
At this point, Menendez’s motive for his seemingly senseless vendetta against the West become clear: his beloved sister was grievously injured in an act of arson committed by American businessmen for insurance money. The Menendez clan, which dominates a powerful drug cartel, was again rocked by loss when the CIA sanctions the assassination of Raul’s father. An embittered Menendez now considers the conflict to be personal, but his one-man struggle against the West is interrupted when Mason, Woods, Hudson, and the Panama Defense Force raid his headquarters in Nicaragua; an enraged Woods inadvertently kills Raul’s sister with a grenade.
Faking his demise with the assistance of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, Menendez lives to retaliate against those he holds personally responsible for his sister’s death. During the 1989 invasion of Panama, he utilizes moles in the CIA to kidnap Hudson and David, using them as bait for a trap. He then uses Hudson to mislead Woods, manipulating him into shooting Mason instead of himself. If the player disobeys Hudson’s instructions to shoot Alex Mason in the head and instead shoots him anywhere else, he will survive and reappear in the game’s ending. In the ensuing chaos, Menendez kills Hudson and cripples Woods. Unsatisfied with his revenge, Menendez allows Woods and David to live, promising to return to complete his revenge when the time is right.
Three decades after the Invasion of Panama, Menendez re-emerges as the leader of Cordis Die, a massive populist movement with over a billion followers. He stages a cyberattack that cripples the Chinese Stock Exchange; in response, the Chinese ban the export of rare earth elements, fermenting the start of a new Cold War between the United States and NATO, against the Chinese-led SDC (Strategic Defense Coalation). Taking advantage of this stand-off, Menendez attempts to bring the two powers to a full-blown war by inciting conflicts between the two, secretly aiding SDC leader Chairman Tian Zhao. Using the intelligence provided by Woods, David, now aNavy SEAL code-named Section, leads JSOC forces in the renewed search for Menendez.
Shortly after gathering intelligence from Woods, Section and JSOC infiltrates Myanmar investigating a spike in activity in the region. There, Section’s team encounters a computer engineer under Menendez’s employment, warning them of a cyberattack with a Celerium device, a quantum computer capable of hacking any computer system. Section’s team is later deployed in Pakistan, attempting to gather intelligence on Menendez’s plots. During the infiltration, Menendez discloses the name of a target, “Karma” in the Cayman Islands. Section and SEAL operatives Harper and Salazar later infiltrate the Cayman Islands, finding out that “Karma” is a woman named Chloe Lynch, a former employee of Menendez’s shell corporation, Tacitus. Lynch was the main developer of the Celerium device, and as a means of wrapping up loose ends, Menendez had deployed mercenaries for her abduction.
JSOC later has a lead on Menendez in Yemen, where JSOC asset Farid infiltrates Menendez’s cell to help Section facilitate the leader’s capture. The player, as Farid has a choice during the mission. Menendez, suspecting Farid’s disloyalty, orders him to shoot the captured Harper. If the player chooses not to shoot Harper, and instead attempts to shoot Menendez, he fails, but Harper survives and is rescued. If the player chooses to shoot Harper, Farid survives, and Harper is not present in any conversations or missions thereafter. Menendez is successfully captured, but this was a ruse for Menendez to hack into the U.S. military’s computer infrastructure on the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Obama, seizing control of the United States’ entire drone fleet. Salazar is revealed to be Menendez’s mole within JSOC, and facilitates Menendez’s attack—Menendez escapes with Salazar’s aid, and when Menendez breaks in to the bridge of the Obama, Salazar shoots the soldiers guarding Admiral Briggs, with Lynch’s survival dependent on Farid’s survival in the previous mission. The player, playing as Menendez, has the choice of either killing or wounding Admiral Briggs. If the player only wounds Briggs, and the player has completed all of the Strike Force missions, JSOC and SDC enter an alliance, then the player is later informed that the SDC sent hundreds of drones to defend the Obama, and consequently Briggs was able to save the ship and its crew. Menendez uses the drones to stage an attack on Los Angeles during a meeting of G20 leaders, hoping to kill them and cause catastrophic damage to the global economy. Mason escorts the President of the United States to safety amidst the drone attacks.
JSOC eventually finds the source of the transmissions responsible for the hacking to Haiti, where Section leads JSOC forces into recapturing the facility in the final mission, and apprehending or killing Menendez. There are different endings depending on the actions the player takes throughout the campaign, such as whether or not the United States and China are able to enter an alliance with each other, as well as determining the fates of certain individuals in the game.
During the main campaign, the player may choose to participate in optional Strike Missions. The Strike Missions involve JSOC attempting to curb the SDC’s global influence by preventing them from forcing neighboring countries into the alliance. Section himself does not participate in these missions directly, though he can command the forces remotely from a command center. If the missions are completed successfully, the SDC is weakened enough to ally with JSOC, and assists the player later in the campaign, for example, in sending its own drones to rescue the U.S.S. Obama and sending its forces to assist JSOC in Haiti.
The storyline of Call of Duty: Black Ops II has several endings, depending on which conditions the player fulfills over the course of the game.
If the player spares Menendez’s life, completes all four Strike Force Missions, and both Chloe Lynch and Alex Mason survive the events of the game, the “best” ending will result. The player will have secured an alliance between China and the United States, ending the Second Cold War, Lynch’s survival prevents Menendez’s cyberattack from succeeding, and Mason’s survival allows him to visit Frank Woods in retirement, reuniting with Section. The final scene shows Menendez in prison, watching a talk show with Jimmy Kimmel interviewing Lynch, getting enraged when Lynch insults him during the interview.
If Menendez is spared and Lynch survives, but Mason is killed in action, the Second Cold War will end and Menendez’s cyberattack will fail, but Section will visit his father’s grave with Woods and decides to retire from soldiering; Woods comments that his father would approve of the decision.
If Menendez is spared, and Lynch is killed, Section will apprehend Menendez and take him into custody. The cyberattack will succeed, allowing Menendez to escape. He kills Woods in the retirement home before visiting his sister’s grave, dousing himself in gasoline, and readying a lit match.
If Menendez is killed regardless of Lynch and Mason’s fate, a YouTube video that Menendez recorded earlier will air, citing the civilian population to riot.
Strike Force missions
Black Ops II is the first Call of Duty video game to feature branching storylines, in which the player’s choice affects both the current mission and in turn, the overall course of the story. Known as “Strike Force missions”, these branching storylines appear during the 2025 storyline and feature permanent death. The success or failure of these missions can have ramifications for the wider campaign storyline. Choosing one of the missions locks out the others unless the player begins a fresh campaign.
Strike Force missions allow the player to control a number of different war assets, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, jet fighters androbots. If the player dies in a Strike Force mission, the campaign continues recording that loss, as opposed to letting the player load a previously saved checkpoint. The player’s progress in the Strike Force missions may go on to change even the plans of the story’s antagonist, Raul Menendez. By the end of the game, the player may have changed the results of the new Cold War, and the player is shown what could have gone differently.
Treyarch has confirmed that the Zombies mode will return for Black Ops II with its own campaign. Its predecessors were Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty: Black Ops. This is the third time for the Zombies mode to appear in a Call of Duty game, and the first time to have its own campaign along with the main story. Treyarch has also confirmed that Zombies will implement the multiplayer engine, allowing for a deeper community experience along with new game modes. It has also been confirmed that the Zombies mode will support 8 player co-op, unlike Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty: Black Ops, which only supported 4 player online co-op. Treyarch announced in August 2012 that Nuketown would be remade as a zombie map for those buying Hardened or Care Package Edition of Black Ops 2. On September 26, 2012, the Zombies reveal trailer was released as well as three new game modes confirmed: Tranzit is a game mode that is a combination of multiple maps in one game and the way to travel around it is to ride on a bus, Survival is the original mode from Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty: Black Ops where you survive as long as possible, and finally the mode Grief which is 4 players vs 4 players vs zombies. The title of the new map is Green Run and has 5 sections in the map to play Tranzit. Bus Depot, Diner, Farm, Power Station, Town (Town, Bus Depot and Farm are the only maps with the Survival and Grief modes). A new zombies map was released on January 29 titled “Die Rise” and takes place in far east china.
Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick stated on November 8, 2011 that a new Call of Duty game was in development for a 2012 release and will be the newest installment in the franchise. The game was officially confirmed by Activision during its fourth-quarter earnings call on February 9, 2012, and promised that it will feature “meaningful innovation” for the series.Oliver North, who was involved in the Iran–Contra affair was a consultant and helped promote the game.
Reports of Black Ops 2 surfaced following a product page for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 appeared on Amazon France before quickly being taken down in February 2012. No information had yet been released by Activision, but Gameblog claimed that Activision demanded it remove its original report too. When it refused to do so, the publisher cut off Gameblog from ad support, review game mailings and future Activision events for refusing to comply.Later Activision denied Gameblog’s claims that it has been cut off. Around the same time, computer game artist Hugo Beyer also listed “Black Ops 2” as his current project in his Linkedin CV, before his LinkedIn page was taken down. Beyer is an artist working for Nerve Software, “a Dallas-based independent developer” which has “helped” with previous Activision games including, Black Ops in 2010. A “Black Ops 2” trademark by Activision was spotted January 2012.Further Black Ops 2 was listed by the France international entertainment retail chain Fnac in March 2012, which touted a predictable November release date.
In developing Black Ops II, Treyarch introduced several revisions to the gameplay mechanics for online multiplayer that have been a hallmark of the Call of Duty franchise. These include the introduction of “multi-team” games that allow matches to host three or more teams of players, in counternance to the traditional two factions, and revisions to the “Create-A-Class” function that allows users to create customised characters for use in multiplayer matches. The “Kill Streak” function, which gives players in-game rewards for killing other players, has likewise been revised and will now be known as “Score Streaks”. Whereas players still receive in-game rewards, these are unlocked by performing certain actions – such as killing other players, successfully capturing territory, and so on – rather than simply killing other players.Furthermore, the “wager matches” feature included in Call of Duty: Black Ops has been removed. These changes were introduced to shift the emphasis towards objective-based gameplay, reward players who work in teams and to make the game more accessible to new players.
In addition to this, Treyarch announced plans to integrate Black Ops II into the world of “eSports” or competitive gaming.To this end, Treyarch unveiled a matchmaking system designed to pair players up based on their skills within the game to ensure that online games are relatively equal in terms of player skill. They also announced what they termed “CODcasting”, a form of live streaming that allows users to stream their games directly onto YouTube from their gaming consoles
On April 9, 2012, an image was leaked from a URL on the official Call of Duty website, which leaked the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 logo, as well as a reveal date of April 28, 2012. The URL was later removed.On April 18, 2012, Kotaku received an image from “a retail source”, which showed a teaser poster that lacked a game title but had clear nods to Black Ops and a May 2 date that seemingly points to a reveal. On April 27, 2012, an image containing two Target pre-order cards sent by IGN reader Richard confirmed the game’s title and release date. The cards clearly display the Call of Duty: Black Ops II logo, and the release date November 13, 2012.
Black Ops II features the voices of Sam Worthington as Alex Mason, Michael Keatonreplacing Ed Harris as Jason Hudson, James C. Burns voices and provides motion capture for Frank Woods, Gary Oldman reprises his role as Viktor Reznov from World at War andBlack Ops in a brief cameo, Andrew Divoff returns as the voice of Lev Kravchenko, Michael Rooker voicing and providing motion-capture for David Mason’s squadmate, Harper, Erin Cahill voicing Chloe “Karma” Lynch, Tony Todd voicing and providing motion-capture for Admiral Briggs, and Robert Picardo voices Erik Breighner. The game’s soundtrack was composed by Jack Wall, with the main theme composed by Trent Reznor. The soundtrack was released as a part of the Hardened Edition and Care Package releases, as well as on iTunes and Amazon, with two supplemental tracks by Brian Tuey, as well asSymphony No. 40 in G minor, K550 (Allegro Molto) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.