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E3 2012: Call of Duty Black Ops II hands-off impressions

Call of Duty Black Ops II will be a different game in the hit first person shooter series for at least a couple of reasons. One of them is that the game, developed primarily by Treyarch and published by Activision, takes place in part in the year 2025, with lots of near-future weapons to both play with and fight against. The second reason is that, for the first time in the history of the franchise, the single player campaign won't feel entirely scripted.

At E3 2012 this week, we got a behind-closed-doors demo of two single player missions in Call of Duty Black Ops II. The first demo was the same one we saw during Microsoft's E3 2012 press conference but with some new elements. It takes places in Los Angeles, where our heroes have to protect the US President after an unknown enemy is attacking the city with both live troops as well as lots of unmanned vehicles such as aerial drones and robotic ground assault devices.

As with previous games in the series, the action in this demo was fast and furious, with lots of Michael Bay-style over-the-top explosions and action set pieces, such as a helicopter crashing in front of our vehicle on the LA freeway, driving through the city's streets under heavy fire and lots more.

It was the second single player demo, however, that was really interesting. We were told that during the single player campaign, we will have the opportunity to pick some optional missions. These levels would be an extension of the regular campaign and, depending on if you pick them and if you are successful or not in completing them, could affect the single player campaign's story ending.

The optional mission we saw takes place in Singapore where our team assaulted an enemy location. This mission wasn't heavily scripted at all. In fact, you had the freedom to switch to playing any of the team members that are a part of your assault squad, or control any of the aerial drones or unmanned ground vehicles.

Most impressive of all was that you could switch out completely to a mode where you can control all of your team members and drones while viewing them from an isometric viewpoint. That turns the mission into a tactical RTS game rather than a first person shooter. We could see this mode being very popular among a certain set of players.

Treyarch isn't saying anything about Call of Duty Black Ops II's multiplayer modes at the moment. They also are not saying much about their plans for the Zombie mode, which have been a part of Treyarch's last two Call of Duty games. However, the brief demo we got to see at E3 2012 already shows that Black Ops II will have enough that's new to keep us interested and we can't wait to see and play more. It's due out in the fall of 2012.

Image via Activision

NeoGamr and Neowin's coverage of E3 2012 is sponsored by War Inc. Battle Zone.

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