The campaign in Call of Duty: Black Ops II jumps between two different time periods: the Cold War era and the year 2025. The missions set in the time of the Cold War follow Alex Mason and Sgt. Frank Woods - two of the protagonists from the first Black Ops title. Jump ahead in time to the year 2025 and players take the role of Alex's son, David Mason. The characters from each of these time periods are all trying to put a stop to Raul Menendez, the game's main antagonist.
Although the premise of the story seems to be the same old "Hunt down the bad guy, save the world" which has been done on numerous occasions in previous Call of Duty games, upon further inspection it's actually quite different. Black Ops II is the first game in the franchise to include a campaign in which players are given different story-altering choices. For example, not shooting one enemy would mean him coming back for revenge later on, but the scenario could change further down the line if the alternate option is taken.
However, the most interesting addition to this instalment's campaign is the Strike Force missions. These special missions play out as if the game was a real-time strategy game, allowing players to command various units in a top-down perspective. For those that find strategy isn't their thing, then players can assume control of these units, turning the game back into the FPS genre Call of Duty fans are so fond of.
Whilst playing the campaign, the information shown on the GamePad isn't anything to write home about - it merely shows current mission objectives and has a couple of virtual buttons on the screen to change the game's controls. There is one button in particular that stands out, though, and has the word "Display" written on it. When touched, the game will ask the player if they want to use the GamePad as a display device; tapping yes allows for the whole game to be played on the GamePad's screen. Not only does this work for the campaign in Black Ops II but it also works in the multiplayer and Zombies modes.
Speaking of which, the multiplayer in Call of Duty games has always been the main selling-point of each entry. This time, the multiplayer area has had a complete overhaul with Black Ops II. Firstly, Kill Streaks have been replaced by Score Streaks, which, rather than getting a certain amount of kills in a single life and then being rewarded, the player's score in that life is accounted for and will then determine the reward they receive. Scores can be earned by carrying out simple tasks such as killing enemies, to capturing flag points in Domination. The inclusion of Score Streaks increases the overall fun factor of the game, even for players who aren't very good at aiming and those who don't get many kills. Although the player is still limited to picking only three of these Score Streak rewards, the fan favourite Care Package is included, so that the player can see some variety in their rewards if they so wish.
The Create-a-Class feature has also been reworked, with Treyarch introducing "Pick 10," which is a new method of equipping a soldier with various weapons and equipment. The Pick 10 system is incredibly straightforward, allowing players to select any 10 items they would like to use for that class. The items that count towards this total include Perks, Weapons, Attachments and the newly introduced Wildcards.
Wildcards grant specific bonuses for the currently selected class, such as the ability to add a third attachment to soldiers' primary weapon or the ability to be able to use two perks from one of three categories. Players can use up to three of these cards per class, but each one counts as an item.
Players of Call of Duty: Black Ops may remember the CoD points system Treyarch included in that game, which was used to unlock weapons and other useful items. This currency has now been replaced with Unlock Tokens, which are acquired each time players gain a level. In order to unlock Score Streaks and items for use in Create-a-Class, players must first attain the rank required to unlock that item and then purchase it using one of these tokens.
In addition to several of the elements receiving a revamp, the controls for Black Ops II have a range of customisation preferences. Those who have previously played the Call of Duty titles for Wii will be pleased to know that the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo and the Classic Controller Pro options are available to use in this game. Wii Remote pointer controls are a lot more fluid this time around and gameplay flows just as well as it does on other systems, meaning this entry keeps the fast-paced action, rather than slowing down the game due to hardware limitations. All of this is possible thanks to the extra horsepower inside of the Wii U.
When playing multiplayer on the GamePad, players can switch their classes and fine-tune their controls on the fly thanks to the interface located on the GamePad's touch screen. Score Streaks can also be called in using this method, although in the heat of battle it's much quicker to just use traditional buttons.
One of the most innovative features in CBlack Ops II is the ability to play split-screen multiplayer matches with one player focusing on the TV screen and another focusing on the GamePad. It is also possible to take this split-screen experience online against others, which works surprisingly well, with no noticeable slowdown or frame rate issues.
With the Wii U version of Call of Duty: Black Ops II containing everything seen on the other consoles (apart from the live streaming and Call of Duty Elite service) it's hard not to recommend this game for owners of the system. This truly is the definitive Call of Duty title, containing some great exclusive features for Nintendo's new home console. Anyone looking for an epic multiplayer experience on the Wii U need look no further than Call of Duty: Black Ops II.