Call of Duty: Black Ops II Game Poster Image

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Extremely violent military shooter with profanity, drugs.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

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. 

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.

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.  

Families can talk 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

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
Available online?Not available online
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

This review of Call of Duty: Black Ops II was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

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What parents and kids say

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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 graphic content. I have played about 2 or 3 hours of the campaign (on the PS3) and have not heard a single cuss word. The graphic content reducer is not only censoring the worst words but all of the cuss words. However it does do this a lot which tells you that if you were playing the normal way the language would be very bad. The graphic content reducer also greatly reduces the blood and violence. There are certain parts of the game where the screen actually goes black in order to hide the violence. I have played both off and online and have yet to hear a cuss word. Now, of cource, if you don't mute the other online players then you are likely to hear some cursing, but muting them is easier than ever. Just go over to the list of players and press the square button and select MUTE ALL EXCEPT FOR PARTY (You may have to be over your own name to do this. I'm not sure.). I haven't played the zombie part of the game yet but I expect that it will be censored in the same way as the campaign. Also, I should note that I haven't played enough of the game to know what the suggestive themes are about, but Uncharted 2 had the same 3 dot rating for sex and it wasn't very bad (the kind of sutff you see on basic tv.) However I may write another review after I have played more of the game. Oh yeah, and by the way, I really love the game so far.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent 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, "But everyone else plays it. You can turn of the Gore and language!". So I came here and saw that CSM rated Black Ops 2 NOT FOR KIDS, but then I saw the other parents who said they didn't agree with CSM. So I did my reasearch, and saw that you CAN turn off the Gore and language. A little unsure, I bought the game and gave it to my son. We let him play it, but we had to watch to see if our son could play it. To be completely honest, with Gore and langauge off, it could easily be rated T. So for all you mothers who have your pre-teens or teenagers asking you for this game, buy it! It's perfectly fine!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 16 years old Written bySealith November 19, 2012

An Experienced Revier

Now before anyone runs away from this review because it's coming from a teenager, I must remind everyone that I have one of the highest (and the most detailed) review on this game's predecessor "Modern Warfare 3". The votes on it are: "Helped me decide (52) | Had useful details (51) | Read my mind (43)". So now that's out of the way, I'll begin. TreyArch has a reputation in the Call of Duty franchise for making amazing games and threatens to outdo Infinity Ward's original dominance of the series. This is their third installment in the franchise including "World at War" (Call of Duty 5) and "Black Ops (One)" (Call of Duty 7). TreyArch is also known for following their customer's very closely and giving the, what they want. They hit the nail on the head when it came to this installment. Not only did they reconstruct the multiplayer to give it a new feel that old fans have been waiting for since the 4th installment, they also created a great campaign, something Call of Duty is not known for, and a greatly entertaining zombie section of the game. When it comes to the campaign though, TreyArch also has a history of creating the most brutal ones. I get the bad part out first. The Black Ops II campaign is like any other TreyArch one. Ridiculously brutal. When reviewing Modern Warfare 3, I mentioned that it belongs in the lower section of the M rating, saying it barely met the requirements for it. Black Ops II on the other hand fits into the M rating quite comfortable. I'm not saying it's inching towards the AO (Adults Only) range at all, but it is definitely where it belongs. Not only is the violence and profanity rather high, but the emotion and choices that TreyArch put in (and forces you to make) can add onto the intensity. But like I said earlier, this is the bad part. TreyArch also understands its "less-than-bloodthirsty" crowd is part of its sales, so they added a way to turn off the gore and profanity. One settings switch and your suddenly very close to having yourself a T-rated game. Players will still have to witness civilian deaths (as they happen, while in Modern Warfare 3 98% of civilian deaths were off screen). You do get to kill these murders shortly after the firing begins though. All in all keep in mind that the Black Ops II can be toned down, but is still barely worthy of that M-rating. When it comes to multiplayer, Call of Duty is nothing short of famous (at least to the gamer world). After eight years of perfecting its technique, the series has been able to go under yet another transformation that makes it the game it is today. TreyArch listened to consumers and created a game based mostly on their complaints about previous games. The multiplayer in Black Ops II is nothing short of awesome (again), although it still has some issues that no programmer can rid of yet. This is the rather illiterate (and young) community that has revolved around this series. The result is little twelve year olds cussing each other out. Don't worry though. In game and post/pre game settings allows you to mute anyone you're playing with. The main child anyone should be facing is the shear amount of pros that will be on this game that could easily rip them apart in any game mode. TreyArch saves us again however with combat training, which lets you play easier (and progressively harder bots if you wish) in multiplayer simulated matches with real objectives. The newly installed league play also groups newbies with newbies and pros with pros, ensuring fair and exciting play every game. Now onto the last aspect of Black Ops II that no one could have expected four years ago. The zombies mode was introduced into World at War as a little bonus for beating the game. The response to the game mode was so powerful and positive that Black Ops (One) expanded on the mode and Black Ops II has now made it a full blown new game mode with dozens of additions that I couldn't possibly name. When it comes to the part parents are concerned about, you are killing any people in this game, but you kill zombies that look like people...sort of. The main issue is that blood is rampant throughout the game (your killing hundreds and even thousands of infected zombies with unbelievable firepower). While this could be a great team building game for friends (its now up to 8 players), online play proposes the same problems as multiplayer. Just mute those people if needed. The zombies mode is purely for entertainment, and I must say, it is EXTREMELY entertaining. What people should know is that TreyArch know how to sell to a wide audience. They know parents won't buy games that are super violent, so they gave options to tone it waaaay down, and nearly every disturbing instance can be covered. The only reality of the game that you can't change is that it's people shooting other people (although that's not even true either in zombies.) Another note is that I didn't mark drugs since the amount of drug use seen in this game is seen in every day life. Thanks for reading!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Safety and privacy concerns