Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Call of Duty: Black Ops II Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Extremely violent military shooter with profanity, drugs.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 101 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 314 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Call of Duty Black: Ops II wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

Positive Messages

This game sensationalizes realistic military violence and makes it appear as though well-trained soldiers are capable of taking on entire armies themselves. The vast majority of play is designed to deliver thrills through the violent death of enemies at the player's hands. The story tackles some tough questions to do with justice and vengeance, often resulting in grey moral ground where players are forced to choose between options neither of which is clearly "right."

Positive Role Models

Most of the game's main characters are good soldiers looking to do right by their country and comrades. They're willing to do anything -- including die -- for their friends. That said, they also enjoy perpetrating violence. Players also take on the role of the game's villain in a couple of missions, and have the opportunity to perform some clearly evil actions, including killing a top American military commander.

Ease of Play

As with most modern first-person shooters, this game is easy to pick up but difficult to master, especially online. Even rookies should be able to grow comfortable pretty quickly in the campaign mode (multiple difficulty settings will help them along), but online play requires months of practice to become seriously competitive.


This game depicts gritty, realistic, military combat. Players kill human enemies with pistols, rifles, machine guns, missile launchers, grenades, and other ranged weapons, with blood spraying and spattering the ground. Cinematic sequences show more dramatic deaths, including graphic melee kills, people burning to death, civilians killed in crossfire, torture, and a shipping container filled with rotting corpses. In one scene the player steps into the shoes of a villain and goes on a murderous rampage against soldiers, the screen turning red with blood rage as he takes damage. 


One mission set in a nightclub shows dozens of female characters dancing provocatively while wearing revealing outfits that expose generous amounts of cleavage.


Soldiers use realistic, uncensored adult language. Expect frequent occurrences of words including "f--k," "s--t," and "c--k." 


This game is part of the expansive and massively popular Call of Duty franchise, and may lead players to seek out other games within the series.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs and other substances are seen throughout the game. The chief villain is a drug dealer. Players raid his "cocaine bunker," which has bags of drugs lying on tables. Also, Afghanis are shown smoking a hookah. A scene set in a backyard has soldiers drinking beer, and a senior officer is depicted smoking a cigar. 

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCuties195 December 11, 2012

CSM isn't telling you everything (like usual)

I have an 11 year old son who is restricted from playing M rated games. When my son asked for this for his upcoming 12th birthday, I said no, and he said,... Continue reading
Adult Written bychartedfan312 November 14, 2012

The Whole Story

As usual Common Sense Media is only telling you half of the story. Just as in the original Black ops, you have the choice when you start the game to disable the... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byKingturnip26 April 11, 2014

Great game

Great game, only rated M because of campaign
Teen, 17 years old Written byYoo July 25, 2015

CSM over reacting

Call of duty black ops 2 is not that bad. Most kids will ask there parents for it and say but all my friends have it, and of course the adult will look at the r... Continue reading

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?

Game details

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