Call of Duty Black Ops 2 PC Technical Review

Product: Call of Duty Black Ops 2
Company: Activision
Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Eric Amidon
Date: November 20th, 2012

Graphics options, visuals, performance, controls

Graphics options

Black Ops 2 includes a very respectable 14 graphics options, including Field of View (capped at 80, sadly for some), Shadows, Anti-aliasing (both MSAA and FXAA), Ambient Occlusion, Depth of Field, Vsync, an optional framerate cap (which can be set to many different values), and Draw FPS (which puts a counter in the corner of the screen and lets you observe framerates), among others.

Annoyingly, if you want all Black Ops 2 has to offer (Campaign, Multiplayer, and Zombies), you must install it as three separate games. As such, the graphics options differ a little depending on what you play: Multiplayer and Zombies get an option for Ragdoll physics, and Campaign gets an option for Number of Corpses, with a few other more minor differences.


In the Campaign mode, Black Ops 2 is an impressive game, visually speaking, thanks in part to Treyarch completing ditching the DirectX 9 pipeline. Character detail is extreme (especially in faces), particle effects are thick and realistic and add a lot to immerse you in war-torn environments, landscapes are rich and a sight to behold, and shadows and lighting feel very full and meticulously placed.

On the downside, texture quality on foliage and some objects is sometimes not where it should be, and multiplayer, while not terrible looking by any means, lacks the aformentioned punch of the Campaign mode, and doesn't ever really go out of its way to wow you.


Framerate optimization was touted as a big focus for Black Ops 2, and I'm pleased to say the effort has paid off in spades: in the Campaign mode and on max settings (excepting MSAA which I left at 4X), performance usually sits at a joyful 70-90fps; multiplayer often sticks at 90-100. No stuttering was observed in my playtime, so expect nothing but a smooth experience, at least with decent gear.

Load times, meanwhile, are reasonably quick in all modes, lasting just the usual few seconds more often that not.


Particularly in single player, mouse controls feel extremely smooth I'd go so far as to say it's not far behind Battlefield 3, which has fine tuned the simple but ever important feeling of holding and aiming your gun to perfection. In multiplayer, for some reason this is lost somewhat to the awful movement and bobbing you've seen in previous games it's odd because this isn't present in single player at all. This is down to preference, however, so if you didn't mind it before, you shouldn't now.

Controls can be fully rebound and customized to your liking even extra mouse buttons are supported for that purpose. Also, mouse sensitivity can be tweaked, and gamepads and various presets for them are supported.