Nipping off the bus is an inherent risk however, as the demented robot conductor is an impatient sort, and will think nothing of driving off without our heroes. This leads to a hilarious scramble when the players hear his incessant honking in the distance - once this happens you only have a short amount of time to clamber on before he leaves you stranded until such time as he comes round again. It's incredibly easy for a disorganised team to get split in half this way, but it's too funny to get angry about. Fantastic map - just a shame there aren't any more included in the package.
We weren't as taken with the 4 v 4 'Grief' mode, however. The idea here is to outlive the other team by looking after your own interests and 'griefing' the other team when the chance arises. All is well until one of the players faint, and then it all goes a bit Benny Hill as players come out of the woodwork to either try to revive the player, or stop the other team reviving them. Many of the games we played ended in a conga line of dead bodies, flanked by one lucky survivor. Perhaps it gets better if you're part of a more organised team, but all we could think about was getting the next bus back to TranZitville.
While it's fashionable to rag on Call of Duty, you can't deny that the series constantly throws out a fearsomely complete package year-on-year, and Black Ops 2 is certainly no exception to that rule. The multiplayer component carries on the series' fine tradition, and the Zombies mode, despite its paucity of content, is an absolute riot.
The campaign too, despite being one of the weaker single player offerings, is packed full of unforgettable scenes and set-pieces, and its branching storyline structure is thoughtfully crafted. Across the package as a whole, it's safe to say that anyone who puts their forty quid's worth into Black Ops 2 will get it back with interest.
In the end though, we have to judge it in the context of there already being eight other Call of Duty games available on the three major platforms, and measured against that yardstick Black Ops 2 struggles to justify itself.
For all its bombast the campaign doesn't have a Pripyat or a No Russian moment to call its own, and we still prefer the more intense multiplayer offering of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. (And, perhaps, the original Black Ops too).
So instead of fixating on the numbers like Alex Mason, consider our review score Black Ops 2's judgement against its peers. That is to say, it's an above-average entry in a series that has yet to churn out a true stinker. It's no Call of Duty 4, but it's no Call of Duty 3, either.
On its own merits Black Ops 2 will thrill and delight, and die-hard fans won't regret their purchase. Waverers who have already played through several of the previous entries however might be better served by turning their attentions to something fresher this Christmas, such as Spec Ops or Halo 4.
Eighty-six years of technology, and there's still so little to split between Call of Duty 2's World War II and Black Ops 2's World War Next. Perhaps that is the enduring message that Black Ops 2 has to share with the world. That no matter how much technological progress humankind makes, we're doomed to fight the same war over and over again. If so, then one thing's for sure - nobody tells the story of that one war with quite as much flair and panache as Call of Duty.
Another explosive Call of Duty package, even if it doesn't manage to topple previous heights. Worth checking out for Zombies and the sci-fi novelty value alone.
- Branching storylines and mission objectives add replay value
- Future tech is well-realised and affects the flow of the combat
- Best-ever zombie map and strong multiplayer
- Plot is convoluted and needlessly gratuitous
- Unsympathetic characters
- Takes a while to settle down - too many weak missions