Call Of Duty: Black Ops II is being released from midnight – and could end up being the biggest selling game of the year.
Black Ops II is the ninth full game in the CoD franchise, and promises to be its most successful title to date as each previous release has been more succesful than the last.
The last CoD title, Modern Warfare 3, which came out in November 2011, grossed $1bn (£623m) throughout the world in its first 16 days of release.
According to publisher Activision, MW3 beat Avatar’s record of 17 days to become the biggest entertainment launch of all time.
The single player campaign in Black Ops II features a similar Cold War setting to the first game.
But after the main character and the story background have been established, the action progresses to the futuristic setting of 2025.
The near-future battleground features some advanced weapons, and drones will also be encountered. Frank Wood and Raul Menendez, characters from the original Black Ops, feature in the new game as well.
As a franchise, Call Of Duty keeps going from strength to strength with the two main developers, Infinity Ward and Treyarch, ensuring a new title is released every year.
But while the series is an undisputed commercial success, some hardcore gamers have grown weary of the franchise, in both single player and multiplayer modes.
The main concern about the multiplayer experience is the quality of the technical infrastructure to support online play.
Black Ops was hammered at launch after many players found the game to be buggy and in some cases almost unplayable.
Treyarch was quick to patch the game, but the damage had been done, and CoD critics generally reckon the series peaked in 2007 with the release of Modern Warfare.
Subsequent CoD games have been condemned for offering the single player few – if any – options in the way they can complete missions.
Such “corridor shooters” see the player shepherded through a predefined area rather than being offered a more open world to explore.
The series sticks to a formula, with token rail sections and quicktime events, and the graphics have not received a significant upgrade in years.
But the CoD games are not alone in this respect, with titles such as Battlefield 3 and Medal Of Honor: Warfighter offering a similarly limiting single player experience.
In contrast, the likes of Far Cry 2, Crysis and Borderlands 2 offer a larger, generally unfettered game world which encourages exploration.
Treyarch has promised to address some of these perceived shortcomings by saying Black Ops II will let players make strategic choices in the game, which could ultimately affect the storyline.
But whether it delivers on that pledge or not, the game is bound to be a commercial success, despite the recent launches of Halo 4 and Warfighter, and Far Cry 3 due out at the end of the month.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops II is being made available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC – as well as Nintendo’s forthcoming Wii U tablet/console hybrid.
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