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Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Benchmarked

Florian Glaser (translated by Peter Krastev), 11/22/2012

Stagnation. It is hard to believe, but Black Ops 2 is the ninth installment of the successful Call of Duty series. The current spin-off wants to score points with its contemporary setting, immersing story, and freedom of play. Read here why the shooter series has not moved forward despite the innovations.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Almost no other action franchise is as successful as Call of Duty. In addition to the various sales records, the publisher, Activision, enjoys a high reputation that transcends the gaming scene. Whether it's newspapers, movies, or TV series: no other first-person shooter is mentioned so often. One could almost speak of a mass phenomenon.

Activision is well aware of the importance of this and provides the community with a new installment every 12 months. The odd volumes are done by Infinity Ward, while the even volumes come from Treyarch. With the title World at War, the US developer was considered the weaker team, not reaching the quality of the CoD founder. Ever since the previous chapter, Treyarch can be considered equal or even better. The reason: Black Ops offered a surprisingly compelling story for the Call of Duty setting.

The newest family offspring should continue this trend and bring some fresh air to the series thanks to innovations. Is the project successful? Our article deals solely with the single player mode.

Description

The beginning of Black Ops 2 turns out to be rather disappointing. First, we need to support allied troops in a dismal Angola and then rescue kidnapped colleagues. Instead of presenting a reasonably credible story, the mission quickly becomes the usual shoot-out. With weapons ready we mow through a seemingly endless mass of enemies. While this was quite fun in the first Call of Duty volumes, it has become somewhat tiresome by now.

Fortunately, Blacks Ops 2 quickly picks up in the next couple of missions. The game is not limited to a single time period, but rather changes from level to level - from the 70s and 80s to the future (Anno 2070). The several decades of action revolve around the bad guy, Raul Menendez, who wants to provoke a global war between the USA and the People's Republic of China. Because of the control of rare earth metals (essential for modern technology), China becomes a lucrative target.

Part of the story takes place in the 70s and 80s.
Part of the story takes place in the 70s and 80s.
As usual, the story is told quite quickly.
As usual, the story is told quite quickly.
China's stock market is under a cyber attack.
China's stock market is under a cyber attack.
In the first mission we support the leader of the Angolan forces.
In the first mission we support the leader of the Angolan forces.
Black Ops 2 is well packed with action...
Black Ops 2 is well packed with action...
...but often degenerates to a brainless shooting.
...but often degenerates to a brainless shooting.

Typical for CoD, we do not always control the same person in the missions. While in the flashbacks this is Alex Mason, the hero from the first part, in the futuristic passages his son David takes the lead. The story is tied up together by the memories of the (former) soldier Frank Woods and the already mentioned antagonist Raul Menendez.

In general, Black Ops 2 feels relatively story-heavy. In contrast to the older Call of Duty titles, the story does not feel like a foreign body, knitted without love, to the action missions. Innovation: several decisions will affect the course and outcome of the campaign. However, we are not quite happy with the story. Because of the constant leaps in time, the story leaves a somewhat chaotic and overly hasty impression. Although in terms of shooters the story is great, you shouldn't expect any miracles. Black Ops 2 is miles away from the narrative level of L.A. Noire.

The graphics are now outdated.
The graphics are now outdated.
Treyarch has naturally incorporated some slow passages.
Treyarch has naturally incorporated some slow passages.
The Call of Duty series offers many exotic sceneries.
The Call of Duty series offers many exotic sceneries.
Important characters are well detailed.
Important characters are well detailed.
The scene could also have come from Crysis.
The scene could also have come from Crysis.
Weather effects aid the mood.
Weather effects aid the mood.

In terms of gameplay, there are hardly any surprises. Anyone who has played Call of Duty will feel right at home. We mostly run with a couple of teammates through the diversely designed and well staged levels, enriched by a number of scripts. As the areas have become more open, the player has more freedom of movement than in the previous titles. The new Strike Force missions (we get a limited number of troops and can issue orders - bird's-eye view is available) introduce a bit of tactics to the series.

Apart from a couple of vague driving and airplane passages, the controls are comfortably smooth and neat. Although the sound quality is worse than that of Battlefield 3, it is worthy of a good score. The AI in Black Ops 2 deserves criticism. As we know from other action titles, the enemies are often very stupid and love to run towards our character, as to prove their intelligence.

In order to ensure a certain standard, Treyarch relies on quantity instead of quality, meaning hundreds of enemies. And here lies the problem. Many of the missions and situations are unrealistic and even ridiculous, making it hard to take the title seriously. Although this flaw is common in this genre, some action titles (Borderlands 2 for example) employ a certain self irony, which Call of Duty is painfully lacking. We find it strange to massacre our own village as the one-man army Raul Menendez or to hunt air missiles with an armored horse. 

In short: the relatively authentic story is offset by a vastly exaggerated and childish gameplay. Call of Duty should finally decide whether it is a grown-up military title, or a pure fun shooter. We do not find the pseudo middle to be a good solution.

We sometimes take control of Alex Mason's son (main character in Black Ops 1).
We sometimes take control of Alex Mason's son (main character in Black Ops 1).
The climbing gloves remind us of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
The climbing gloves remind us of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
No, those are not bats - those are our teammates.
No, those are not bats - those are our teammates.
The developer seeks visual variety.
The developer seeks visual variety.
The levels seem more open than in other Call of Duty titles.
The levels seem more open than in other Call of Duty titles.
Under this temple is a secret research complex.
Under this temple is a secret research complex.

The biggest criticism is the outdated technology. Even at maximum settings the graphics can be described as decent at best. Blurry textures, polygon and detail lacking objects, no physics goodies: the drawbacks list is long. Only the characters and some effects are reasonably good. In comparison: the Frostbite 2 engine by DICE (Battlefield 3Medal of Honor: Warfighter) sometimes looks better even in low settings. Technically, Call of Duty has not been able to keep up.

Treyarch has also made a mistake with the game design. In the course of the campaign we came across a couple of trial & error passages. Wait a second too long, go a meter too far, or press the wrong button: Bam, mission failed! But the customizable equipment (before each mission you can select among cool upgrades and gadgets) makes up for this.

You can now choose your own equipment in single player mode as well.
You can now choose your own equipment in single player mode as well.
The customization options are endless.
The customization options are endless.
Some weapons look quite futuristic.
Some weapons look quite futuristic.
There are various attachments.
There are various attachments.
The choice of grenades is also abundant.
The choice of grenades is also abundant.
Such perks used to be exclusive to the multiplayer.
Such perks used to be exclusive to the multiplayer.

Benchmark

To make things easy we test the beginning of the game. In the mission, Pyrrhic Victory, the main character must help out the Angolan troops. As you can see from the video below, the benchmark sequence is about 50 seconds long. The average frame rate is measured with Fraps. We start the recording as soon as the fire and the burning hand appear. When the main character gets on the truck and the mission details are displayed in the left corner, we end the sequence.

In our experience, the frame rate during the benchmark sequence corresponds to the average fps in the whole game, although some passages run significantly slower. 35 fps seem to be the indication of decent playability.

Settings

The 18 graphic options are divided into two different menus. In addition to the usual suspects (brightness, shadow quality, texture filtering, etc.) there are a couple of exotics - an FPS counter and a manual frame limiter (Black Ops 1 was limited to 90 fps by default). In terms of anti-aliasing we have FXAA, MSAA, and Nvidia's brand new TXAA. VSync was of course deactivated during the benchmark. Good: any setting can be changed during game play, without requiring a restart.

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings
Discussion

We are not entirely satisfied with the loading times. Black Ops 2 takes a while to load at the start of the game and a new level, as did the predecessor. With a conventional HDD, we often have to wait a long time. In addition, the title does not seem to be completely stable. When using the GeForce GTX 660 Ti our desktop system struggled with a couple of crashes in the Myanmar 2025 mission (Forceware 306.97 & 310.51). With Windows 8 we also encountered problems with Optimus (incorrect assignment).

Low Settings
Low Settings
Medium Settings
Medium Settings
High Settings
High Settings
Ultra Settings
Ultra Settings

Results

Although the graphics have not improved subjectively, the first-person shooter has higher hardware requirements than Modern Warfare 3 and the first Black Ops. Entry-level GPUs, such as Intel's HD Graphics 4000 struggle even with minimum settings (the HD 3000 is too slow according to our benchmark). For medium details and 1366x768 resolution a potent all-round GPU, like the GeForce GT 630M, is required.

To play Black Ops 2 at higher settings and with quality improvements, you would need at least a GeForce GT 640M. Maximum settings and 1920x1080 resolution are only possible with high-end cards (GeForce GTX 660M and above).

Benchmark-Tabelle: Black Ops 2

Verdict

During the several hours of our gaming session, a constant thought was there: This title is no breath of fresh air. Despite the fresh and long overdue innovations (Strike Force missions, branched action, individual equipment, etc.) the first-person shooter feels pretty old. Even the great staging does not help. The Call of Duty series is outdated, gameplay and technology-wise.

Mindless action is not what drives the gaming scene forward in the long run. In order for the interactive medium to be established as a cultural asset, the developers need to break new ground sooner or later. Speaking of new: Activision should finally replace the elderly engine, which does not meet the requirements of a triple-A title. Black Ops 2 looks like it could have been released five years ago.

The next attack lurk behind every corner.
The next attack lurk behind every corner.
We have already cleaned up here.
We have already cleaned up here.
Handy: the Millimiter Scanner reveals enemies.
Handy: the Millimiter Scanner reveals enemies.
This level is probably taken from the first-person shooter F.E.A.R.
This level is probably taken from the first-person shooter F.E.A.R.
There are lots of drones in the year 2025.
There are lots of drones in the year 2025.
Proper breaks to catch your breath are rare.
Proper breaks to catch your breath are rare.

Test Systems

Most of the results are from devices by Schenker Notebooks (mysn.de): 

  • XMG P502 (Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 660M, GTX 670M, GTX 675M(X), GTX 680M & Radeon HD 7970M, 8 GB RAM)
  • XMG A502 (Core i5-3360M, GeForce GT 650M & HD Graphics 4000, 8 GB RAM)
  • Xesia M501 (Core i7-2630QM, GeForce GT 630M & HD Graphics 3000, 8 GB RAM) 

The above notebooks used the following GPU drivers: Nvidia 310.51 Beta, AMD 12.11 Beta 7, and Intel 9.17.10.2875. 

from left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502
from left to right: Schenker XMG A502, Xesia M501 & XMG P502

Overview

Show Restrictions
Pos      Model                                     Perf. RatingCall of Duty: Black Ops 2
 Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012)
low
1024x768
Low / Off
med.
1366x768
Medium / Off
high
1366x768
High / On, FXAA
2xMSAA
ultra
1920x1080
(Extra) High / On, FXAA
4xMSAA
 16NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M SLI
~94.975%
256.4
199.4
148.6
 21AMD Radeon HD 8970M Crossfire
~97.175%
246.352
213.552
155.12
 22NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M SLI
74.7
230.8
194.4
145.1
108.1
 32NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
79.8
242.52
220.52
1572
108.552
 33AMD Radeon HD 7970
77.8
238.2
223.1
146.3
104.9
 44NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M
75.4
218.92
204.47
156.51
105.2
 47NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti
73.8
235.5
206.7
140.4
95.4
 49NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M
75.7
239.4
206.2
155.052
95.15
 53NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M
~61.750%
144
91.7
 57AMD Radeon HD 8970M
60.3
187.9
174.4
121.6
72.552
 61NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M
61
214
165.352
109.62
75.33
 62NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M SLI
77.8
260.6
219.3
144
94.9
 65AMD Radeon HD 7970M
58.7
177.4
165.3
120.7
753
 68NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX SLI
62.3
185.9
171.7
124.4
85.7
 75NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M
57.1
196.6
169.22
99.53
66.13
 76NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M
54.7
187
152.4
100.6
66.4
 82NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX
52.1
186.6
151.1
91.5
57.4
 83NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M SLI
~44.975%
127.6
95.9
65.2
 85NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M
~36.350%
84.3
54.2
Pos      Model                                     Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
lowmed.highultra
 93NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M
45.7
172.9
1264
78.354
503
 101NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M
44.7
159
127.1
79.5
50.6
 109AMD Radeon HD 7770
42.7
153.3
127.6
70.5
47.4
 110NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M SLI
44
147.7
121.3
81.8
55.3
 120NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670MX
38.3
128.4
113.1
71.42
42.952
 122NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M
~33.775%
106.1
87.4
57.6
 124NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M
37.4
135.9
107.8
65
41.1
 130AMD Radeon HD 8870M
29.9
99.5
86.9
53.9
36.4
 143NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M
34.5
132.9
95.72
57.72
37.3
 145AMD Radeon HD 8850M
22.3
70.6
59.5
46.9
27.8
 147AMD Radeon R9 M265X
31
110.9
90.1
53.5
34.7
 150AMD Radeon HD 8790M
27.8
109
82
43
27.9
 158NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
30.7
116.8
88.6
51.4
31.6
 167NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M
25.1
91.352
70.752
44.252
27.82
 169NVIDIA GeForce 840M
21.4
73.3
58.5
39.7
26
 171NVIDIA GeForce GT 745M
29.2
111.4
85.6
48.8
29.1
 175Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200
21.5
92
67.7
28.4
18.3
 178NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M
24
75.43
69.33
48.43
28.83
 185NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450
30.7
112
87
54
34
 187NVIDIA GeForce GT 735M
~17.650%
54.7
30.5
Pos      Model                                     Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
lowmed.highultra
 200AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8750M Dual Graphics
~16.250%
49.1
29.2
 202NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
22.4
82.732
67.282
37.662
23.122
 204*NVIDIA GeForce GT 645M
24.6
92.8
70.9
41.4
26
 206AMD Radeon HD 8750M
18.3
74.6
54.3
26
18.3
 209AMD Radeon R7 M265
18.1
79.78
46.54
26.6
18.18
 213NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
23.7
84.952
70.052
41.352
25.2
 234AMD Radeon R7 M260
16.1
58.1
46.9
30.1
16.1
 243AMD Radeon HD 8670D
22.1
112
57
26.7
17.7
 247AMD Radeon R6 (Kaveri)
~14.675%
52.8
37.7
19.7
 249AMD Radeon HD 8730M
17.2
72
47.8
25
17.8
 268AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
~15.275%
56.3
38.9
19.1
 269AMD Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics
12.6
45.7
39.1
20.8
13.1
 271AMD Radeon HD 8550G + HD 8670M Dual Graphics
~13.175%
48.1
34
16.6
 274AMD Radeon HD 7660D
16.9
76
50
22.3
14.2
 292AMD Radeon HD 8650G
~13.675%
45.3
37.2
19.6
 296AMD Radeon HD 7670M
~14.675%
51.2
38.1
20.2
 297NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
15.2
56.22
44.052
25.752
16.152
 298AMD Radeon HD 7560D
15.5
68
47
20.6
12.8
 305NVIDIA GeForce 820M
~18.275%
60.7
46.9
28.4
 308NVIDIA GeForce GT 720M
~14.975%
49.5
39
23.3
Pos      Model                                     Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
lowmed.highultra
 316AMD Radeon HD 8450G + Radeon HD 8570M Dual Graphics
~8.575%
25.2
22.9
15.2
 320AMD Radeon HD 8550M
~10.875%
36.6
28.6
15.9
 321Intel Iris Graphics 5100
13.4
53.1
38.5
24.1
11.4
 326Intel HD Graphics 4600
13.6
62
40.9
17.5
10.6
 328Intel HD Graphics 5500
10.6
43.7
31.3
17.4
8.8
 334AMD Radeon HD 7660G
14.1
61
42
19.6
12.4
 337Intel HD Graphics 5000
~1175%
40.5
28
14.1
 347AMD Radeon HD 7570M
~13.775%
53.5
34.7
15.7
 350ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650
13.5
57.4
38.9
18.9
12.8
 360AMD Radeon HD 7610M
14.8
75
38
18
12
 362AMD Radeon HD 8470D
15.1
73
41.3
18.9
11.9
 370Intel HD Graphics 4400
~8.375%
30.62
22.32
10
 374AMD Radeon HD 7550M
~12.175%
47.2
30.4
13.9
 382AMD Radeon HD 7600G
~5.775%
20.4
15.6
6.9
 400Intel HD Graphics 5300
~9.175%
33
24
11.8
 408AMD Radeon HD 7480D
11.1
49
34
15.6
8.352
 409Intel HD Graphics 4000
6.8
31.44
20.94
6.64
6.6
 415AMD Radeon R5 (Beema/Carrizo-L)
~8.775%
31.8
22.8
11.3
 416AMD Radeon R4 (Beema)
7.6
31.7
24.1
10.5
6.7
 417Intel HD Graphics 4200
~7.375%
27.2
19.1
8.9
Pos      Model                                     Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
lowmed.highultra
 419AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5
10.8
46.8
32.5
15.4
8.5
 426AMD Radeon HD 8450G
~8.675%
31.1
23.2
10.3
 430AMD Radeon HD 8400
~950%
27.6
18.8
 443AMD Radeon HD 8330
~7.475%
28.5
19.1
8.7
 446AMD Radeon R3 (Mullins/Beema)
~8.375%
30.5
21.5
10.3
 472Intel HD Graphics (Haswell)
~8.350%
25.6
17.6
 504AMD Radeon HD 8250
~5.575%
20.2
14.1
6.9
 511Intel HD Graphics 3000
~4.475%
16.652
12.2
4.4
 532Intel HD Graphics 2500
~6.925%
18
 567*Intel HD Graphics (Sandy Bridge)
~5.225%
13.62
 572Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
~3.850%
12.4
7.3
* Smaller values are better. / * Approximate position

 

Legend
5Stutters – This game is very likely to stutter and have poor frame rates. Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, average frame rates are expected to fall below 25fps
May Stutter – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, stutters and poor frame rates are expected.
30Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 25fps
40Fluent – Based on all known benchmarks using the specified graphical settings, this game should run at or above 35fps
May Run Fluently – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game. Based on interpolated information from surrounding graphics cards of similar performance levels, fluent frame rates are expected.
123Uncertain – This graphics card experienced unexpected performance issues during testing for this game. A slower card may be able to achieve better and more consistent frame rates than this particular GPU running the same benchmark scene.
Uncertain – This graphics card has not been explicitly tested on this game and no reliable interpolation can be made based on the performances of surrounding cards of the same class or family.
The value in the fields displays the average frame rate of all values in the database. Move your cursor over the value to see individual results.
static version load dynamic
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Benchmarked
Florian Glaser, 2012-11-22 (Update: 2013-06- 6)