A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a gritty, extremely violent military first-person shooter set mostly in the near future. Players engage in graphic combat that involves constant killing using realistic weapons, with blood and gore pouring across the screen during more intense scenes. Cinematic sequences can be even more dramatic and graphic, with both soldiers and civilians dying in horrible ways. Players are cast in the role of good guys during most of the campaign, but they also take on the role of the game's villain in a couple of pivotal scenes, giving them opportunity to do evil. This M-rated game has frequent profanity and some sexual themes and drug use. Parents should also be aware that this game facilitates open voice communication.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS II jumps back and forth through time from the Cold War era to the near future. The story revolves around a Central American drug dealer who carries a grudge against a group of American soldiers for the death of his sister. As time goes on, his quest for vengeance grows, eventually transforming into an ideological war against the West. Players engage in standard first-person shooter mayhem throughout the campaign, occasionally taking the wheel of vehicles or manning emplaced turrets. They'll also get to play with some high-tech gear, including wing suits, robots, and quadricopters while carrying out missions set in the future.
Most players will spend more time online than in the story mode. They'll begin by training, then get sorted into league matches against players of similar skill where they'll begin the slow process of completing challenges and leveling up their character. A second, more fantastical multiplayer mode called Zombies has players working cooperatively as they go up against hordes of undead creatures.
Is it any good?
Call of Duty: Black Ops II's single-player story mode is a little disappointing. Some missions are surprisingly deficient in serious action (expect to do a lot of walking and talking). Others, like a level set in Afghanistan that has players riding around a small, semi-open desert shooting rockets while riding horses, are missing the series' trademark tight, linear, cinematic pacing. The third act is pure spectacle and packs a real wallop, but it takes a little too long to get there. Gamers who play only the single-player component of Call of Duty games may come away disappointed.
Multiplayer, on the other hand, is close to sublime. Online play is well balanced and extremely deep, delivering immediate frenetic action for veterans who want to jump headfirst into the fray while offering newbies the opportunity to slowly submerge themselves in the experience via a well-designed combat trainer. And Zombies is nearly a game unto itself, offering several modes for fans of cooperative play. Suffice to say most players will be kept busy for months.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in media. Where do you draw the line on violence for your teenage children? Do you think violent movies and games are equal, or do they affect younger audiences in different ways?
Families can also discuss online safety. Do you know what steps to take when approached by online bullies and predators? What should your first course of action be?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Subjects: Social Studies: global awareness, historical figures
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, logic, strategy
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Activision
- Release date: November 13, 2012
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Drugs
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.