Call of Duty: Black Ops II
|Call of Duty: Black Ops II|
David S. Goyer
|Series||Call of Duty|
|Engine||Black Ops II engine|
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a first-person shooter video game, developed by Treyarch and published by Activision (Square Enix for Japan). It was released on November 13, 2012 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 and on November 18, 2012 in North America, November 30, 2012 in Europe and Australia for the Wii U. Black Ops II is the ninth game in the Call of Duty franchise of video games, a sequel to the 2010 game Call of Duty: Black Ops and the first Call of Duty game for the Wii U. 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 as well as selecting weapons before starting story mode missions. 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. It had remained the largest entertainment launch of all time until September 2013, when Take-Two announced that Grand Theft Auto V had grossed $800 million in its first day of release. It went on to sell 7.5 million copies in the U.S. in November 2012, making it the highest grossing game of the month.
- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Gameplay
- 3 Development
- 4 Downloadable content
- 5 Reception
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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 first Cold 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 (codenamed Section) as the protagonist, in which Menendez is plotting against the United States and China with one of his ultimate goals being to see the United States locked in a new Cold War with China, in revenge for many of his misfortunes. In this era, wars are defined by robotics, cyberwarfare, unmanned vehicles, and other futuristic technology.
In 2025, US Special Forces operatives led by David Mason and his partner, Harper, arrive at "the Vault", a top-security location home to an elderly Frank Woods, whom they suspect possesses 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 further strained when Mason is solicited by Jason Hudson, seeking to recruit him for an assignment in Cuando Cubango during the height of the Angolan 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 Soviets, along with Chinese operative Tian Zhao. Woods and Mason find Lev Kravchenko, who had survived the grenade incident with Woods in Vietnam, causing Mason to see the numbers and hear the voice of Viktor Reznov 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 the latter scenario, Woods 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 two unknown 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, Josefina, 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 sanctioned 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 Josefina 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. 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.
36 years later, 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 government bans the export of rare earth elements which the entire infrastructure of the US Army runs and relies on, fomenting the start of the Second Cold War between the United States and NATO, against the Chinese-led Strategic Defense Coalition. Taking advantage of this stand-off, Menendez attempts to bring the two superpowers 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 a Navy SEAL code-named Section, leads JSOC units in the search for Menendez.
Shortly after gathering intelligence from Woods, Section and JSOC infiltrates Myanmar investigating suspicious activities in the region. There, Section's team find evidence that Menendez is planning another, much larger 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. While covertly recording Menendez, he discloses the name of a target, "Karma", located in Colossus, a floating resort in the Cayman Islands. Section and SEAL operatives Harper and Salazar later infiltrate Colossus, 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. In the event that Chloe isn't rescued within the given time limit a strike mission will open up as a second chance for her rescue.
JSOC later catches a lead on Menendez in Yemen, where JSOC asset Farid infiltrates Cordis Die to help Section facilitate Menendez'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 Barack 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 into 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 hacks into military satellites to gain access to the entire U.S. drone fleet 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 and to attack several targeted cites in America and China to cripple their infrastructure. Section escorts the President of the United States to safety amidst the drone attacks.
JSOC eventually traces the source of the transmissions responsible for the hacking to a Tacitus facility in 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. If all of the missions are completed successfully, the SDC is weakened enough to ally with JSOC, forming an alliance between the United States and China, with the Chinese assisting the player later in the campaign.
The storyline of Call of Duty: Black Ops II has several possible endings. The one shown depends on decisions and tasks completed over the course of the game. If the player spares Menendez's life, completes all of the Strike Force Missions, and the characters Chloe Lynch and Alex Mason survive the events of the game, then the preferred 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 finally, Alex's survival allows him to visit Frank Woods in retirement, reuniting with David. The final scene shows Menendez in prison becoming enraged after watching a talk show with Jimmy Kimmel interviewing Lynch, who insults Menendez during the interview.
If Menendez is spared and Lynch survives but Alex Mason is killed in action then the Second Cold War will end and Menendez's cyberattack will fail. David Mason will visit his father's grave with Woods and decide to retire from soldiering. Woods comments that his father would approve of the decision. Alex's survival depends on whether he is shot in the head or trunk.
If Menendez is spared and Lynch is killed, David will take Menendez into custody. The cyberattack will, however, succeed, allowing Menendez to escape. He then kills Woods in the retirement home before visiting his sister's grave, dousing himself in gasoline and readying a lit match.
If the players complete the game once, players can unlock the non-canonical Special Ending. The ending showing Menendez and Woods having some practice in the backroom with Avenged Sevenfold. They then perform at Club Solar together, with Menendez playing the guitar and Woods on the drums. Several characters from the game also make an appearance in the cheering crowd.
Characters and setting
Zombies takes place throughout various time periods, mostly focused during the modern time, in a post-apocalyptic world, created as a result of the missile launch from the moon striking the Earth. The majority of the story follows four new characters: Samuel Stuhlinger (David Boat), Marlton Johnson (Scott Menville), Abigail "Misty" Briarton (Stephanie Lemelin) and Russman (Keith Szarabajka). Dr. Edward Richtofen (Nolan North), one of the previous playable characters from the previous game, returns as the demonic announcer, overseeing the four characters. Another returning character is Dr. Ludvig Maxis (Fred Tatasciore), who instructs the new group to help him defeat Richtofen. Players can choose whether to help Maxis or Richtofen, which will have different results once the story ends. The map "Mob of the Dead" features a new crew of characters: Albert "The Weasel" Arlington (Joe Pantoliano), Billy Handsome (Ray Liotta), Michael "Finn" O'Leary (Michael Madsen), and Salvatore "Sal" DeLuca (Chazz Palminteri). The map "Origins" features an alternate version of the original crew: Tank Dempsey (Steven Blum), Nikolai Belinski (also voiced by Tatasciore), Takeo Masaki (Tom Kane), and Edward Richtofen, as well as Maxis' daughter, Samantha (Grace Kaufman).
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In Cold War-era Nevada, a team of CDC operatives investigate a nuclear testing site known as "Nuketown", where they are attacked by zombies. Dr. Edward Richtofen is heard via a television, carrying out his scheme on the Moon. Richtofen seizes control of the zombies by entering the Aether, but Dr. Ludvig Maxis works with his daughter Samantha and Richtofen's former allies, Tank Dempsey, Nikolai Belinski, and Takeo Masaki to thwart him. To this end, Maxis launches three massive nuclear missiles filled with Element 115, the element responsible for the reanimation of dead cells, at the Earth, destroying it. One missile completely destroys Nuketown and all present.
After the events of Moon, Earth has been reduced to a crumbling, hellish wasteland overrun by zombies. In this new world, four survivors - Samuel J. Stuhlinger, Abigail "Misty" Briarton, Marlton Johnson, and Russman - have banded together to survive in Washington with the help of a bus driven by a robotic driver. The four are contacted by Maxis, now an digitally-rendered A.I., who is seeking humanity's aid against Richtofen. Maxis implores them to power up a tower in a cornfield using an electricity-based zombie. However, Richtofen contacts Samuel, who is able to hear voices from the Aether, and commands him to convince his friends to power up the tower in his favor. The player may choose to follow either Maxis or Richtofen's orders. It is revealed in audio transmissions that survivors from all over the world have been contacted by both Maxis and Richtofen, though there is widespread conflict between the followers of both Germans; particularly in a settlement known as Jackass Flats, which was initially a safe haven, only to fall to the zombies when the Maxis-Richtofen conflict consumed it.
Regardless of who they choose to aid, the four are teleported to a crumbling skyline in Shanghai, China. Here, Richtofen commands Samuel to "mend the rift" and accept his fate as a follower of Richtofen, threatening to expose his past as a member of a cannibalistic cult known as The Flesh, who eat zombie flesh to survive. Richtofen continuously revives the group whenever they fall to the zombies until they follow his orders. Maxis, who is no longer hampered by electric devices, contacts the group again for aid. The four learn through televisions scattered across the area of the Flesh, as well as the beginnings of a new airborne plague of Element 115, the element that reanimates dead cells and causes zombies.
Following their battles in Shanghai, Russman leads the group across the continents to a large hole in the ground known as "the Rift" in Africa, hoping to find answers about the unseen forces commanding them. Maxis and Richtofen contact them once again, more desperate than ever to achieve their goals. Both of them ask the group to power up the third and final tower in their favor. Maxis promises to heal the Earth, and Richtofen promises to save them from Maxis. The four gain a new ally in the form of a mute, unnamed giant in a western town built underground, and are hampered by a ghostly woman in a massive mansion. Depending on who the player has aided in the story, there are two possible endings. If the player has aided Richtofen, he will gain unlimited power over the Aether and the Earth, kill Maxis and condemn Samantha Maxis' soul to eternal damnation. He will then enter the body of Samuel as a reward for his aid, but finds he cannot exit it, and is at the mercy of the zombies as he was before. If the player has aided Maxis, he uses the power from the towers to enter the Aether and assume ultimate control, trapping Richtofen in a zombie's body. However, the Earth begins shaking, and Maxis explains to the four that he is beginning the process of the destruction of the Earth and humanity to reach Agartha, where he believes Samantha is.
A separate story, "Mob of the Dead", focuses on four mobsters: Salvatore "Sal" DeLuca, Billy Handsome, Michael "Finn" O'Leary, and Albert "The Weasel" Arlington", who are incarcerated at Alcatraz Island. On New Year's Eve 1933, the four attempt to escape the prison, using Weasel's plan to build a makeshift airplane called Icarus. However, they discover the prison infested with zombies, and are forced to fight their way out. They succeed in building the airplane, but they crash-land at the Golden Gate Bridge. They would then somehow teleport back to the prison, using four electric chairs. The crew constantly tries to escape, but every time, the result remains the same. After various failures, they discover that they have been dead all along, and they were stuck within a Hell-like dimension called "Purgatory", where they are constantly repeating a cycle as punishment for their past sins. They also remembered that in reality, the escape plan never came to fruition, and Weasel was killed by the other three on New Year's Eve, while they were executed by the electric chair weeks later. Having remembered the truth, Sal, Billy and Finn set out to kill Weasel once again. Like the main story, two possible endings can occur: if Weasel is killed, the cycle repeats once again; if Weasel lives and the other three are killed, the cycle is broken, and he is finally freed of his punishment.
"Origins" introduces an alternate timeline, in 1918 France during World War I. In this timeline, Group 935 was formed much earlier, with Maxis as one of its leaders, who operate to secure Germany's victory in the war. To this end, the group has created towering mechanical robots, suits of armor, and staffs that control the powers of the elements. Group 935 also stumbles upon an ancient tomb believed to be of Vril origin, but this unleashes the first known zombie outbreak in history. Aiming to stop Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States of America send Takeo, Nikolai and Dempsey to capture Richtofen, the mastermind behind the advanced technology. By this time, Group 935's operatives have been wiped out, and Maxis himself was lobotomized when he began to turn into a zombie. The group put aside their nationalities to fight the undead, and are contacted by a voice claiming to be Samantha, who begs them to free her from Agartha. Richtofen puts Maxis' brain in a flying drone, and he joins the fight against the zombies and to free Samantha. The group is eventually successful, and while Maxis meets his daughter, they enter Agartha to be rewarded. A cutscene is played, showing an alternate reality where Samantha with a boy named Eddie play with toys of the characters who have appeared in the Zombies game mode throughout all three games. Air raid sirens are heard and the two children retreat to the basement with Maxis, with Samantha noting her father has a plan to make their games real.
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 and robots. 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.
Similarly, in the main story missions, there are certain points where the player is given different choices and paths to progress, which could have an effect on the gameplay, as well as the story. Black Ops II is also the first game in the series to allow the player to customize their loadout before beginning a mission, creating freedom in choosing how to approach a mission.
One of the biggest changes added to multiplayer in Black Ops II is the introduction of Pick 10, a new system within the Create-a-Class menu. Pick 10 gives the player a total of 10 allocation slots in a class, which are used for guns, perks, grenades, etc... The player can choose to allocate the slots however they like, to either have more attachments for a gun, or more perks.
Killstreaks from previous Call of Duty games are renamed as Scorestreaks, which are now earned by gaining points, rather than kills. This allows the player to focus on objective modes, which also earn points towards Scorestreaks.
Unlike past games, weapons in Black Ops II have a progression system, which is used to unlock weapon attachments. After maxing out a weapon's level, the player can choose to "prestige" the gun, similar to how they can prestige the player level, and reset their attachment progress. In exchange, the player can customize their weapons with custom clan tags and emblems.
Black Ops II is also the first Call of Duty game to include a competitive mode. Known as League Play, the mode allows players of similar skill level to be matched together, and play according to the rules of Major League Gaming.
|This section is outdated. (October 2015)|
Treyarch confirmed that the Zombies mode would return for Black Ops II with new game modes. 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 game modes other than the traditional Survival mode. Treyarch also confirmed that Zombies would run on the game's multiplayer engine, allowing for a deeper community experience, along with new features. A new, 8 player co-op game called "Grief" is also supported, featuring 2 teams of 4 players competing to survive, unlike Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty: Black Ops, which only supported 4 player online co-op. As with the previous game, each map contains "Easter eggs" side quests, which is used to progress the story.
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 on the 1980s portion and helped promote the game. The author and defense expert Peter W. Singer served as a consultant on the 2025 storyline of 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.
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.
On April 23, 2012, Activision redesigned CallofDuty.com to announce that the game will be revealed on May 1, 2012 during the NBA playoffs on TNT. The art featured on the site matched up perfectly with the supposed retailer leak received by Kotaku. However, parts of the official website went live hours prior to the announcement, which revealed the title, confirmed the release date for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and the "21st Century Cold War" setting. Activision had hinted that the game may eventually become available for Nintendo's own consoles, although had no official announcements for the time being. As promised by Activision, the preview for the game was revealed in the form of a YouTube trailer that detailed the futuristic setting, the characters carried over from the previous games, and the conflict.
After the game was revealed, the preorder rates on the game set records three times higher than for the preorders of the first Black Ops. Critics have noted the trailer's similarities to that of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. On July 19, 2012 a second trailer was released by Treyarch, offering insight into the game's narrative. The storyline has been described by writer David S. Goyer as "better than a Hollywood movie".
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 contrast to the traditional two factions, and revisions to the "Create-A-Class" function that allows users to select which guns, attachments, weapon camouflage and perks (additional bonuses that alter aspects of gameplay) to use in multiplayer matches. The "Kill Streak" function, which gives players in-game rewards for killing other players, was revised and is now 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 was removed. These changes were introduced to shift the emphasis towards objective-based gameplay, to reward players who work in teams and to make the game more accessible to new players.
Additionally, 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.
There is also 3D support if players are playing with an HDMI cable on a 3D TV. Before one enters multiplayer mode, one needs to simply just turn on the 3D setting in the "options" menu.
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 script for this version was translated by Zenigame Nakamoto. The translated version was criticized for its translation errors.
The Japanese release of the Wii U port is only the dubbed version since the console was not available in Japan in November.
|Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Original Soundtrack)|
|Soundtrack album by Jack Wall|
|Released||November 13, 2012|
|Genre||Video game soundtrack|
The game's soundtrack was composed by Jack Wall, with the main theme composed by Trent Reznor the leader of industrial rock project Nine Inch Nails since 1988. 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 as "Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K550 (Allegro Molto)" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Also, a version of the song "Try It Out" by Skrillex and Alvin Risk is used in the game, but it is not present in the soundtrack album. When the Campaign is completed, after the end credits, Woods and Menendez perform a concert with heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold on their song "Carry On", with Woods on drums and Menendez on rhythm guitar. The band chose to use Woods as the drummer in the game due to the loss of their original drummer The Rev, who died of a drug overdose on December 28, 2009. The band's song "Shepherd of Fire" is featured on the Zombie mode Origins. Additional artists include Sean Murray, Jimmy Hinson, Sergio Jimenez Lacima, Kamar de los Reyes, Azam Ali, & Rudy Cardenas.
Heralding the release of Black Ops II's DLCs, Activision releases a live-action short starring a well-groomed Peter Stormare, who acts as a "Replacer", part of a group who are sent by mutual friends to take your place during your daily life while you can stay at home and play Black Ops II's new content. Stormare goes on to explain the aims of his jobs and is then shown in multiple situations where he has taken over random people's jobs, such as masquerading as a pregnant lady's husband, working at an office, and enduring a grandmother's endless talking, as well as other such scenarios.
To promote Black Ops II's second DLC, entitled "Uprising", comedian J.B. Smoove joined Stormare in the second production of The Replacers, in which the two maintain a haphazard relationship. Stormare normally acts as a mentor to the new replacer Smoove by pointing out his various quirks while doing his job, such as his poor performance defending his client while he replaces a lawyer, admitting that he might be guilty.
A Black Ops II Season Pass was released by Treyarch with the release of the game. On December 12, 2012, all Xbox 360 Season Pass holders received access to the Nuketown Zombies map, with PC holders following on January 17, and PlayStation 3 holders on January 19, having been delayed two days due to PSN technical issues. It was later released as an individual download for PC on April 13, 2013.
The first major DLC pack is called Revolution. It was announced on January 8, 2013 and released for Xbox 360 on January 29 and PC and PS3 on February 28 The pack contained four new multiplayer maps - Downhill, Hydro, Mirage and Grind; and two new Zombies modes - Turned and Die Rise. Also included was the first DLC weapon; the Peacekeeper. Turned occurs in the Diner segment of the TranZit map from the original release, and allows up to four players to fight each other in two teams - one human against three zombies. The Die Rise map is a larger zombies survival map taking place in a destroyed office building, where one to four players use elevators to travel between floors.
Personalisation pack microtransactions for the game were released for Xbox 360 on March 12, 2013, and PC and PS3 on April 12. These allow the player to make small aesthetic changes to the multiplayer functionality of the game, like adding the flag of their country to the kill notification box, adding new weapon skins and allowing the player to use more Create-a-Class slots.
The second major DLC pack is known as Uprising. It was released for Xbox 360 on April 16, 2013 and came out for PC and PS3 players on 16 May. It includes the new zombies map Mob of the Dead as well as new multiplayer maps Magma, Vertigo, Encore, and a re-imagining of fan-favourite from previous installment Black Ops Firing Range, known as Studio.
The third major DLC pack is called Vengeance. It was released for Xbox 360 on July 2, 2013, and PC and PS3 on August 1. It includes new zombies map Buried as well as new multiplayer maps Cove, Detour, Rush and a remake of the popular map Summit from Black Ops: Uplink.
The fourth and final major DLC pack is called Apocalypse. It was released for Xbox 360 on August 27, 2013, and PC and PS3 on September 26. It includes new zombies map Origins back to the old characters (Takeo, Nikolai, Richtofen and Dempsey), as well as new multiplayer maps Pod, Frost and two remakes of popular maps Courtyard and Stadium of Call of Duty: World at War and Black Ops: First Strike DLC.
On July 8, 2014, Activision released Nuketown 2025 for the Wii U Version. On March 27, 2013, Activision revealed that they were considering releasing Revolution, but a firm decision has not yet been made.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II received generally positive reviews from critics. IGN editor Anthony Gallegos describes the game as "a good example of how to evolve an annualized franchise." Gallegos praised the game for telling a story was genuinely interesting and creating a villain that he empathised with to the point of questioning his own actions over the course of the story. Gallegos directed criticisms at the artificial intelligence of allies in Strike Force mode and at the ending of the campaign, which he felt was disappointing even though he was aware that the outcome was directly influenced by the choices he made.
Dan Ryckert of Game Informer was also critical of the artificial intelligence of Strike Force mode, and was unimpressed by the "Pick Ten" system introduced to multiplayer modes, noting that it was "interesting, but ultimately less exciting" than the system used in previous Call of Duty titles. Like Gallegos, Ryckert praised the narrative and structure of the single-player campaign, introducing changes that he felt were overdue and noting that the branching storylines "had me talking to others about their experiences in a way I had never done before with this [Call of Duty] series".
Steven O'Donnell and Stephanie Bendixsen, of video game talk show Good Game, both gave the game an 8.5 out of 10, praising the gameplay multiplayer and zombies mode, but were critical of the campaign's confusing narrative and Strike Force missions. In particular to the narrative Good Game, was critical of the opening battle where the player guns down fleeing Africans rebels, feeling that it was added purely for shock value and commenting that
The landscape of shooters is changing somewhat. The fact is that everyone loves playing military shooters, but we're also realising that we don't want to glorify aimless killings. A lot of games are trying to make you feel that conflict and even make you feel bad about what you're doing. But I don't think it's been handled very well here.
Frederick Charles Fripp of IT News Africa gave it a final score of 9.2/10 and wrote that "BO2 is a non-stop action-packed shooter that will keep gamers on their toes and on the edge of their seats. It has everything a player could want in a game: great graphics, a good story, easy controls and superb acting."
Sales and revenue
Activision reported sales figures for Black Ops II in the U.S. were more than 7.5 million copies sold on launch day and grossed over $500 million, in the US alone in its first 24 hours, making it the biggest entertainment launch of all time until the record was surpassed by Grand Theft Auto V in September 2013. It is the fourth year in a row that the Call Of Duty series has broken the same record. 2011's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 grossed $400 million on one full day; 2010's Call of Duty: Black Ops grossed $360 million on day one; in 2009, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 brought in $310 million.
Black Ops II went on to gross $1 billion in the first 15 days of availability, beating Modern Warfare 3's record of the first 16 days. On November 5, 2013, IGN confirmed that the game sold 24.2 million copies, making it the third highest selling game in the series, behind 2010's Black Ops, and 2011's Modern Warfare 3.
In July 2014, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega sued Activision for lost profits from the use of his likeness in the game. He also claims that his inclusion translated to higher sales of Black Ops II. Noriega makes an appearance in the Cold War portions of the game and aids the primary antagonist. The suit sought compensation for lost profits and damages for his depiction as a "kidnapper, murderer, and enemy of the state" in the game. On October 28, the Los Angeles court dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that Noriega's inclusion was protected under free speech laws.
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