Generally favorable reviews - based on 73 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 67 out of 73
  2. Negative: 0 out of 73
  1. Dec 12, 2012
    Black Ops II is a mixed bag. The single-player features the most coherent and engaging storyline seen in the series so far. While the story really shines, the campaign itself feels over-scripted and underwhelming. It's hard not to enjoy the multiplayer, though. While one could argue it's the same old Ground War, it's still a lot of fun. [Dec 2012]
  2. Nov 29, 2012
    In terms of technology it's not so fresh anymore, but the rest is really likeable. Thanks to the necessity of making choices (some of which are 'hidden' and not obvious) this time I didn't feel like a puppet in the hands of the writers and the multiplayer is amazing. [13/2012, p.42]
  3. Nov 13, 2012
    If you like Call of Duty, Black Ops II is your new game. It doesn't innovate, it invents nothing, and it plays to war as always. Multiplayer mode is amazing again and zombies cause more problems this time around. The AI​​, graphics and minimal improvement spoil an indispensable title for you, if you're a fan.
  4. Nov 13, 2012
    This is the biggest movement in any direction we've seen from a Call of Duty game since Modern Warfare - but unlike Infinity Ward's game changer, Black Ops 2 lacks a little in both the polish and conviction areas. It's going to be hard to go back to the same corridor shooters after Black Ops 2 - and it's going to be harder still for someone to convince me to play generic Team Deathmatch - but the game still feels like it falls short in some areas.
  5. Nov 13, 2012
    For shooter fans that don't require as deep of a dive, Black Ops II's multiplayer may feel like more of the same. No significant new match types are present, and the Pick 10 system doesn't drastically change the gameplay experience. Most of the changes to the Call of Duty formula come in campaign mode, and they are executed with mixed results. Despite some frustrations, Black Ops II is yet another massive, polished, finely tuned entry in a series that shows no signs of slowing down.
  6. 85
    Call of Duty's three-pronged attack serves it well in Black Ops II, with the superb online play and Zombies co-op making up for a less-essential campaign this time - though its many changes and occasional high points still warrant a playthrough (or two) to see Treyarch's spin on the well-worn template.
  7. Nov 13, 2012
    It's a great game from a studio that's done everything it can with the tools at its disposal to reinvigorate Call of Duty, even if it doesn't refashion the series completely. You won't appreciate that just by playing its online mode, and you will be disappointed if you're wanting the property to be turned inside out and spun on its head. Those that simply love to play military first-person shooters, and were looking for something that finds what life is left in the genre, however, should find themselves perfectly catered to.
  8. Dec 4, 2012
    Black Ops II presents interesting backdrops and fine shooter action. The game hits its stride when it presents features that move beyond your traditional shooter, whether that be shooting at helicopters from horseback or diving out the back of a crippled plane.
  9. Nov 26, 2012
    Black Ops 2 isn't the game it could have been; there hasn't been enough change in the multiplayer mode. The game does offer an interesting single player experience and a cool zombie mode, unfortunately with dated graphics.
  10. Nov 16, 2012
    Ultimately though, a large portion of the experience still feels like a classic Call of Duty titles. We can't complain about it much, because no matter how many times you've played a game like this, each time you can't help but just enjoy the thrill of the ride, the vibrant new and impressive set-pieces and the adrenaline-pumping action.
  11. 80
    This is not to say it's a bad game, it's just not different enough from previous Call of Duty titles. The story isn't memorable, the maps and weapons aren't any different to what we've previously experienced, the gameplay is near identical to previous games, and when it's not identical it falls flat and fails to impress.
  12. Jan 19, 2013
    It's fun, and an indication that Treyarch is willing to explore ideas that Infinity Ward has thus far ignored. [Issue#93, p.74]
  13. Nov 27, 2012
    There is a lot contained within Call of Duty: Black ops 2 and I am glad I bit the bullet and made the purchase. The team at Treyarch definitely feel like they are winning the race in terms of trying to bring innovation to the series compared to the very worn-out Modern Warfare franchise. The multiplayer experience is starting to feel old now, even with the fact that when you prestige you don't loose all your weapons. However with multiple endings for the campaign, Strikeforce missions, and an improved Zombie mode, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was worth the wait and was an enjoyable game. The single player campaign is short at about 6 -8 hours, but there is plenty to keep people interested if they enjoy the multiplayer aspect of the game.
  14. Nov 19, 2012
    So if you're looking for an excuse to cave and buy yet another Call of Duty? Go ahead! There's enough new to explore and enjoy. But if you're tired of Call of Duty, that's what you're gonna get here, so don't bother feigning surprise when you're disappointed yet again.
  15. Nov 18, 2012
    Not everything new that Black Ops 2 introduces is a success, but what works - from the branching narrative to more flexible multiplayer customisation - makes it the most unique Call of Duty yet.
  16. Nov 18, 2012
    This game feels like Call of Duty which means its a good shooter. However it has some bugs and its innovative but not really innovative. Do you understand? Its a good shooter but its not the best game this year.
  17. Nov 18, 2012
    It's still very much a game rooted in past successes, but the bold changes it makes on the campaign side shows Treyarch aren't quite prepared to rest on their laurels.
  18. Nov 16, 2012
    All in all, Black Ops II is a solid game, but it feels kind of tired at this point in many respects. The new additions to the single player, zombie, and multiplayer components are a good effort, but they're not enough to transcend the series to a new level (like Halo 4 did for the Halo series). But if you enjoyed Black Ops, odds are you'll also enjoy Black Ops II - albeit a little less so.
  19. Nov 16, 2012
    Minor objections about design decisions aside, Black Ops II is another great shooter in a year of great shooters. It's a competent, confident, generous package, true to its core values, but with enough new to carve out its own identity, enough variety to appeal to a wide range of players, and enough content to belong on your shelf for more than just a quick playthrough. This is the way to do a yearly installment without just phoning it in.
  20. Nov 16, 2012
    Black Ops II might not be perfect, but the entertainment value far outweighs some questionable design choices.
  21. Nov 15, 2012
    Black Ops 2 is conflicted. It wants to move in bold new directions, but it falls back on safe, but aging, mechanics.
  22. Nov 15, 2012
    This is Call Of Duty, nothing more, nothing less. Fans of the series will lap it up, those who didn't like the previous games will not be swayed by anything it does. It has a target audience and Activision know what they want. Black Ops II doesn't disappoint, it just doesn't push the series on any further.
  23. Nov 15, 2012
    Call of Duty: Black Ops II continues the trend of a Michael Bay action film packed into a video game format. There's spectacle, voice talent, zombies, and finally a story with a good set up and player agency to boot. It may lack significant innovation, and the missions set in the 20th century are far from compelling story pieces, but with a robust multiplayer experience and a half-decent story, Black Ops II does the series proud.
  24. Nov 15, 2012
    Ultimately, ambition is the word that best describes Black Ops 2 - and that's remarkable enough in itself. This is still Call of Duty, with all that entails, and anyone who has resisted the series so far likely won't be won over this time either. For the fans, though, Black Ops 2 offers the rare sight of a series at its height choosing to experiment and change rather than stay loyal to a proven, but tired, formula.
  25. Nov 14, 2012
    Backed by Activision's fantastic investment and support, Treyarch has succeeded, and made a sort of ultimate current-gen Call Of Duty. Not a reinvention – that, hopefully, comes next year, on box-fresh hardware and a new engine – but a refinement of the most successful series of its generation. Black Ops II is an excellent Call Of Duty game, then, but it's only a Call Of Duty game, with all that implies.
  26. Nov 14, 2012
    Black Ops 2 is a good and complete Call of Duty-game. The Zombie-mode is once again very entertaining and the single player the best yet thanks to the moral choices it presents players with. The multiplayer still plays the same way after all these years, which makes sense, but is slightly disappointing for those who hoped that the new setting and structure would've caused it to change. All of the modes are a lot of fun though, but to enjoy it you'll have to bite through pretty outdated graphics.
  27. Nov 14, 2012
    It's hard to recommend Black Ops II to fans of story-based single player campaigns. Treyarch had problems connecting a story with strong characters, with a dynamic, linear shooter. The result is chaotic, but a mediocre single player mode cannot weigh heavily on a final opinion about this game. The most important thing in Black Ops II is an incredible multiplayer - a classic, fast-paced game with many innovations. The Pick 10 system opens up a metric ton of possibilities, and really good maps and play styles create a package never before seen in a Call of Duty game. If that's the thing you want in a modern shooter, you couldn't have picked better.
  28. Nov 13, 2012
    Don't make the mistake of confusing the near-future setting and the attempts at branching narrative for innovation. It's more like Treyarch has had a spring clean and got the decorators round: Black Ops II is still ostensibly built on the same foundations that powered 2008's Call of Duty 4 and every annual instalment of the series thereafter. The thrill of Call of Duty's rollercoaster ride is starting to diminish, then, but few will feel too short-changed by buying this year's ticket.
  29. Nov 13, 2012
    Treyarch did well in introducing Call of Duty to new approaches. The solo, especially, is surprisingly replayable thanks to story variations based on both player chance and performance. The multiplayer seems to have found the definitive system for custom classes with Pick-10, and the new Zombies mode called Tranzit offers new surprises and and open-world feeling that surely make it better. The graphics engine really starts to look old though, and the solo suffers from big plot holes, less polished scripting, and less spectacular sequences.
  30. Nov 13, 2012
    Overall Black Ops II is the most ambitious and innovative Call Of Duty for years, but it's also the most inconsistent. But that may well be the short term price for trying to do things differently.
User Score

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 2142 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Nov 13, 2012
    Same game as any other Call of Duty after COD 4, adds absolutely nothing new. Campaign fells like a boring B-movie. What a huge disappointmentSame game as any other Call of Duty after COD 4, adds absolutely nothing new. Campaign fells like a boring B-movie. What a huge disappointment and a waste of money. Full Review »
  2. Nov 13, 2012
    Look at my review history. Am I someone who jumps on a bandwagon in any way? Look at my review of mw3, and by the way, BO1 was mt favoriteLook at my review history. Am I someone who jumps on a bandwagon in any way? Look at my review of mw3, and by the way, BO1 was mt favorite COD. BO2 is a compete waste of my money and it makes me happy mw3 was so poorly recieved. Granted, I've only played it for 1 night. But, the campaign is as most basic as possible, and the multiplayer is so steriotyplical that I amost knew what was going to happen next based on a game I played 5 years ago, and that game is blah blah blah. I let mw3 slide even though I knew it was the same as usual but I can't let this slide because now I have to sell this and accept a $30 dollar loss because I didn't listen to a !,000,000,000,000 other gamers. Full Review »
  3. Nov 13, 2012
    The game is extremely weak, repetitive. The campaing is awful, the multiplayer is boring, every year a Call of Duty game is release and everyThe game is extremely weak, repetitive. The campaing is awful, the multiplayer is boring, every year a Call of Duty game is release and every year it's basically the same thing: tedious and awful. Full Review »