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Black Ops 2: Set to change the face of shooters forever

Black to the future

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Jet Black

It falls just short, actually, and once the dust disperses and the ringing in our head ceases, Mason picks his way to a grounded FA-38 jet and hops in for the final showdown of the demo. With more bombing drones inbound he takes off vertically and starts weaving between the still-standing skyscrapers to hunt down the bogeys.

Zoom

The next five minutes look a lot like the Hind mission 'Payback' from Black Ops, only this time it's played out to the backdrop of a burning city so detailed we're not sure how the 360 and PS3 are going to cope without bursting into flames and disintegrating into piles of rubble themselves.

It's an on-rails section, right? Wrong: like so many assumptions that have proved to be false already during the demo, this isn't the case. The ensuing dogfights are quite the open free for all, with our pilot in total control of where the plane goes.

Naturally the mission parameters strongly suggest you follow the looping velocities of the enemies, boosting with the left stick to narrow the gap and unleashing sky burster missiles with the left bumper to bat them out of the sky. But there are a couple of tense near misses with buildings, and as we're all filing out for a bathroom break ten minutes later we overhear Mark Lamia quietly chuckling with our demo's controller about how it almost all went wrong and needed a checkpoint reload. So much for the supposed Call of Duty 'smoke and mirrors'.

Treyarch didn't have to meticulously handcraft clever videos pieced together from dozens of perfected gameplay snippets to impress us: just playing a not-even-close-to-finished build of part of one level blew our socks clean off. Come November it'll be so polished we reckon there's a good chance that we're going to struggle to pick up the slippery disc.

When you saw the name Black Ops II you probably thought this was destined to be another Vietnam-based retread of old battlegrounds, right? You're not alone: we did too. But Treyarch have shocked the world by taking almost everything that was recognisable about Call of Duty and twisting it into something new and exciting.

Black Ops II is a breathtaking reinvention of the biggest gaming brand on the planet and with it Treyarch are on course to redefine what a shooter should be in the process. Come release on 13 November, Call of Duty will never be the same again.

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