Call Of Duty Black Ops 2


18 cert, Activision, Xbox 360 (also PS3, PC)

GAME OF THE WEEK:The Call of Duty series has developed a long, generally fulfilling relationship with its fans. But it can be hard to keep a relationship fresh, and our heads have lately been turned by other military games.Thankfully, Black Ops 2 has some audacious new ideas, and the series now looks and feels fresher than it has in years.

Black Ops 2 is told mostly in a series of flashbacks before jumping forward to the near future. After covering past wars and modern conflicts, futuristic gadgets (invisible camouflage, for example) are a logical next step for the series.

Following the long pursuit of sadistic warlord Raul Menendez, the game has the usual themes of personal vendettas, terrorism and moral dilemmas. The story (from Christopher Nolan regular David S Goyer) is exciting, if a little muddled. But it does allow for some tremendous setpieces, such as commandeering high-tech machines and vehicles; galloping on horseback through a Saudi Arabian desert; wading through a flood-ravaged Pakistan; dragging a troublesome prisoner through a bullet-riddled slum; driving a jeep through a crumbling city in a high-speed getaway; and plenty more. The momentum is relentless, right up to its epic finale.

Once again, you play as a number of different characters (including, briefly, the villain), and with some scenes re-played from multiple perspectives.

For the most part, it’s a teeth-rattling, responsive and immensely playable first-person shooter. But Black Ops 2 also adds a real-time-strategy element. This gives the game a greater sense of scope and variety, as you command platoons, drones and turrets, manoeuvring them around warzones and achieving multiple, simultaneous objectives. Online and offline multiplayer work effectively as well, not least thanks to the presence of zombies!

An exciting, grandiose and surprisingly innovative game, Black Ops 2 is a welcome step forward for the franchise.