Black Ops II blends an 80's cold-war story soaking in mistrust, espionage and covert operations, with a futuristic view of warfare with cool gadgets and interesting technology. These are themes which work very well for a shooter, so nobody is complaining here. The game hasn't forgotten it's roots either, and anyone who has played a previous Call of Duty game will feel right at home with the look and feel of this game.
One interesting design concept, which you may not even notice, is that Treyarch has included cameos of a few well known people from within the military and intelligence communities, who could very well play a part in the politics of 2025. One such person is General David Petraeus, former director of the CIA and commander of US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Petraeus appears in the game as the US Secretary of Defense. Another cameo is made by retired USMC Lt. Col. Oliver North, who even voiced his own lines. North was involved in the development of Black Ops II as a consultant, as well. The one person you'll almost definitely recognize on sight, is Hillary Clinton who cameos as the President.
Petraeus in game and in reality. Can you tell which is which?
Black Ops II runs on the Black Ops II engine (clever name), an upgraded graphics engine based on the IW3.0 engine used in the original Black Ops and Call of Duty 4. The new engine has improved lighting and water effects, as well as HDR lighting, lens flares and DirectX 11 support. It looks good, and the characters especially are very crisply modeled and show emotion and facial expressions quite clearly. Still, nobody is going to be baffled by the graphics – it's Call of Duty, and it's looked more or less like it does now for the past five years.