You're standing on the second floor of a burnt-out building in town, looking into the abyss through a crack in the wall. From here, standing above the smoke and the fog rolling in, it seems as though civilization has crumbled into oblivion. The town is on fire, there are cracks of lava roiling down the city block, and hungry, decaying things are climbing over farmhouse fences to get after you. But for the moment, it's enough to just catch your breath and admire how beautiful destruction can sometimes be.
This is the scenery of Black Ops II's Zombies missions, an expanse of wasteland laid out in small level designs as the gamer fights to stay alive. The Call of Duty series is no stranger to the walking dead; they've been pumping out the adrenaline rush of fighting off undead hordes since World At War, and though the original idea of survival is still preserved, Black Ops II has aimed to advance the minigame even more.
Black Ops II comes loaded with three levels of zombie fun, all situated in the town of Green Run. Players can choose between fighting off hordes in the town, the farm, or at the bus depot, each with their own brand of devilish challenges. All levels have two modes - you can just try to survive for as long as possible, or you can play a game. The town and the farm feature a mode called Grief, where two teams try to survive for as long as possible. If one team dies, the other team wins.
The other mode for the bus depot is Tranzit, quite possibly one of the best of the bunch. This game is similar to survival, except there is a sort of endgame; players hop on a bus, heading throughout the locations until they get to a laboratory safe house, where they continue to get bombarded with hordes. But there's a couple of other options to this game, too; along with the regular items like speed colas, special weapons, and perks dropped by zombies, there are special things to find in the fog as the bus travels through locations. New weapons, perks, and even monsters await inside; you're risking your life, but the rewards might be worth it.
The other modes are more of the same from Zombies; players fight to survive against wave after wave of zombies with no end. There will never be an end, just the pleasure of knowing you made it as far as possible against the dead. Still, Tranzit is so much more fun because it feels like there is a common goal to be accomplished, and your teammates help you get there by building devices or getting perks.
Survival becomes somewhat stale after a while, and if you get paired with partners who aren't too interested in helping you stay alive, the game deteriorates into a all-for-one approach. And sometimes partners can drop out of your game, leaving you to fend for yourself as a horde approaches. That gets pretty annoying, especially if you're doing well and getting through rounds fast.
The game has added a lot of nice atmosphere, however, with fog and buses and lava. There are many different doors to open around town, and that means there are many places to hold down against the zombies. It also means you can get trapped, either stuck on multiple fast-moving walkers or bogged down by your own teammates. Surviving requires good teammates who work together; if you split up, you'll probably die, and if you don't coordinate, you'll get swamped.
The levels have some annoying features, though. The lava and fire damage players incur get frustrating, especially when running from zombies that explode when they die. It's near impossible to avoid some of the tendrils of flame, and many times players will find themselves downed more from environmental factors than zombies. The fog has creatures that latch onto the face, and the only way to kill them is to knife them off of you five times. It's nice to have different creatures to fight, but they also hamper exploration a bit too much, where it feels like a hassle to go out into the fog to find the easter eggs.
Zombies creates a lot of tension, and it often has a different dynamic compared to Left 4 Dead or Dead Rising. It's best played in small bursts, but it holds a lot of fun for those who can conquer the zombies with headshots or power-ups. The new modes are also a welcome addition; they don't add too much of a different play style, but they at least give an advanced objective.