Activision's massively successful first-person shooter franchise returns to the shady world of clandestine missions and deniable operations, while for the first time adding in branching storylines and near-future combat in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The single-player story weaves between the exploits of original Black Ops protagonist Alex Mason in the 1980s, and those of his son David Mason in the year 2025. A Nicaraguan drug-lord and terrorist named Raul Menendez provides a timeline-spanning villain, with gamers witnessing his formative years and his ascent to power.
The early portion of the campaign finds players joining Alex Mason and other operatives as they fight proxy wars in Cold War hotspots like Central America and Afghanistan; actions that partially spur Menendez into forming his populist Cordis Die movement. The futuristic portions of the game occur after an electronic attack brings down the Chinese Stock Exchange, leading to a new cold war in which China stops exporting rare earth elements. Much of the new war is fought with cyber attacks, robots, and unmanned aerial vehicles, with Menendez antagonizing both sides into a larger conflicts in places like Los Angeles, Singapore, and Yemen. The branching storylines of new Strike Force missions take place in the 2025 portion of campaign, with the selection of one path locking out several other missions, and permanent deaths resulting in constantly shifting goals and conflict-resolution possibilities.
Set exclusively in 2025, the Black Ops II multiplayer modes remain a vital part of the Call of Duty package and have received a variety of upgrades and alterations designed to promote teamwork and make the action more accessible to newcomers. A new multi-team option expands the traditional squad-vs.-squad mechanic to include three or more teams, the Create-A-Class feature has been changed to allow for the creation of custom characters, and Kill Streak bonuses have been renamed Score Streaks to reward gamers for completing specific actions rather than simply offing a number of foes in succession.
Developer Treyarch has also included and expanded its popular co-op zombie action, with the Tranzit mode letting up to four players battle zombies and travel on foot or in a bus through an expansive landscape. The Survival mode asks gamers to defend a single area as waves of undead descend upon them, while the new Grief mode finds two teams of four competing to see who can survive the zombie invasion the longest.
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