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Call Of Duty: Black Ops II Graphics Performance, Benchmarked

Call Of Duty: Black Ops II Graphics Performance, Benchmarked
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The Call of Duty series is an old favorite of ours, so it's a foregone conclusion that we'd check out Black Ops II's performance on the PC. How well does your graphics card handle it? Does this title have what it takes to stand out in a crowded genre?

Just two weeks have passed since Medal Of Honor Warfighter was released (we covered that title's performance in Medal Of Honor Warfighter Performance, Benchmarked). Now, Call of Duty: Black Ops II is available as well.

I'll be honest. I wasn't very excited about yet another first-person shooter in the special operations genre. Sometimes, I feel like I've been bludgeoned by a steady stream of Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Medal of Honor sequels. Often, fans are fed cookie-cutter follow-ups intended to cash in on the franchise, but not necessarily do anything for gaming as an experience. And that's why we interviewed a retired Navy SEAL yesterday (Angelini Talks Gaming With DEVGRU Operator Craig Sawyer). We want to see the genre progress. Even the most successful formulas wear out if they're overused.

So, it might surprise you to learn that I really enjoyed this game. I certainly found myself in disbelief. If Call of Duty: Black Ops II taught me anything, it's that a well-executed and cohesive story can refresh a tired genre. The directors, producers, and writers cared about making it work. The pace was good, the plot kept me interested, and the characters developed over time (even the main antagonist). Call of Duty: Black Ops II doesn't take gaming in a new direction, but it's entertaining, which is no small achievement given my jaded perspective of shooters.

He's got a board with a nail in it! Run, Kodos!He's got a board with a nail in it! Run, Kodos!

Aside from the fact that this is the first Call of Duty title to venture into the future with high-tech weapons, there are no gimmicks. The fantastical equipment almost doesn't even matter. The true star of this game is the narrative and how well it wraps around the player. The story bounces back and forth in time between 2025 and the Vietnam War; each mission's decade (and technology) has surprisingly little impact on the experience. If it bleeds, we can kill it.If it bleeds, we can kill it.

It's clear that Treyarch worked to keep every level fresh, but each one is woven into the story well, and not distracting like they were in Medal of Honor Warfighter. Many different locations are involved, some of the futuristic missions involve remote-controlled robotics, and there's even a level that plays like an RTS. But most of the game is standard first-person shooter fare (aside from the fact that many of the game's characters are modeled after the recognizable actors that voice them; there's some major talent behind those microphones, which is cool).

CoD the RTSCoD the RTS

Are there downsides tied to such a dramatic plot line? Sure. Immersion suffers at the hands of implausibility. At one point, your avatar is standing on a cliff when the tree beside him gets struck by lightning, nearly dragging you down the mountainside. That's completely ridiculous, of course. But, in the moment, you're more worried about avoiding an impending death. Such over-the-top scenarios help pace the action, but some of them are just too silly. You feel like a character in a Michael Bay movie. Fortunately, even when that happens, you're having more fun than actually watching a Michael Bay movie.

Jeb Corliss, eat your heart out.Jeb Corliss, eat your heart out.

Regardless, our focus at Tom's Hardware is on component performance. So, we didn't spend any time playing around in the multi-player component or the zombie game. We spent the time that we had looking for the most demanding part of the single-player campaign to benchmark, which turns out to be the thick jungle firefight right after the wingsuit base jump in the "Celerium" level.

But before we get there, let's look at the game's image quality.

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Top Comments
  • 32 Hide
    greghome , November 16, 2012 6:48 AM
    I'm surprised you guys even bother benchmarking this game since the requirement for the COD series hasn't really changed for 5 Years.....considering they're still the same engine.....not to mention the same game..
  • 20 Hide
    jurisc , November 16, 2012 8:14 AM
    nothing special I would say. Same crappy graphics!
  • 17 Hide
    JJ1217 , November 16, 2012 7:09 AM
    Jesus Christ Toms! Stop bloody benchmarking the 1GB version, its clearly the bottleneck.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , November 16, 2012 6:45 AM
    I'd like to know how the game performs using the 2550k/3570k chips versus the 3960x since they usually makes Toms' Recommended Buy list for gamers.
  • 32 Hide
    greghome , November 16, 2012 6:48 AM
    I'm surprised you guys even bother benchmarking this game since the requirement for the COD series hasn't really changed for 5 Years.....considering they're still the same engine.....not to mention the same game..
  • 15 Hide
    esrever , November 16, 2012 6:55 AM
    Numbers aren't surprising. Doesn't push hardware at all since the 7750 can play at 1080p on medium. The game is more a console game than a PC game.
  • 17 Hide
    JJ1217 , November 16, 2012 7:09 AM
    Jesus Christ Toms! Stop bloody benchmarking the 1GB version, its clearly the bottleneck.
  • 9 Hide
    JJ1217 , November 16, 2012 7:11 AM
    by that I mean 1GB 7850
  • 1 Hide
    cats_Paw , November 16, 2012 7:59 AM
    Im quite sure the game has not been optimized at all after its port to the PC :D . Makes it look like its better >D.

    I saw the trailer for this game, and it looks like a DX9 game with decent textures. So, ill pass, just as i did since MW1.
  • 20 Hide
    jurisc , November 16, 2012 8:14 AM
    nothing special I would say. Same crappy graphics!
  • 13 Hide
    cats_Paw , November 16, 2012 8:21 AM
    Maybe im mistaken, but i think the comparison from mid and high details is a bit misleading.
    Going from mid to high level it would be in the best interest of the readers to submit the same ammount of antialiasing. It is very hard to know the impact of the graphics themselves when it comes to image quality, if you add both AA and higher textures.

    I am quite sure the game will be layable with full HD and no AA, then adding Sweet FX AA far better than with MSAA.
  • -3 Hide
    ojas , November 16, 2012 8:32 AM
    There's something wrong with the detail settings picture. I think Medium's been labeled as "Low" and vice-versa.

    Doesn't make sense otherwise.
  • 3 Hide
    ojas , November 16, 2012 8:35 AM
    Also, it's odd, your mini-review (like MoHs) almost completely contradicts the RPS review. But then i guess there's a reason i come to Tom's for hardware related stuff and RPS for all things gaming...

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/11/15/black-ops-2-pc-review/
  • 0 Hide
    mesab66 , November 16, 2012 8:47 AM
    "the game doesn't employ the IW 4.0 engine "......"but it looks like the developers are going after accessibility over advanced graphics"..."(Ed.: I don't think there's much to argue...)"

    We welcome the good storyline but not the fact that this is clearly another port just to cover consoles. Not exactly helping to differentiate the gaming experience from any reasonable PC from the crowd.
  • 6 Hide
    ojas , November 16, 2012 8:47 AM
    I'm also at a loss why iterative games like MoH and CoD are always tested but new/different ones others like Dishonored aren't...even Planetside 2 for that matter.

    Even AC III, iterative, yes but seeing that the 360 is unable to always hold 30 fps, should be interesting.
  • 6 Hide
    cats_Paw , November 16, 2012 8:54 AM
    ojasI'm also at a loss why iterative games like MoH and CoD are always tested but new/different ones others like Dishonored aren't...even Planetside 2 for that matter. Even AC III, iterative, yes but seeing that the 360 is unable to always hold 30 fps, should be interesting.


    I think we all know the answer to that one....
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , November 16, 2012 9:13 AM
    Cats_PawI think we all know the answer to that one....

    Um...? :o 
  • 8 Hide
    tomfreak , November 16, 2012 9:14 AM
    I stop reading when I see the picture and "the game doesn't employ the IW 4.0 engine "......"but it looks like the developers are going after accessibility over advanced graphics"..."(Ed.: I don't think there's much to argue...)"

    If a game dont have creative gameplay, aint a benchmark game like the old crysis, aint having decent graphic quality = what else that make it worth $60? more like $6.00
  • 3 Hide
    abbadon_34 , November 16, 2012 9:20 AM
    After the magic of the RadeonPro utility shown in the 7990 article, I'd love to see it incorporated as part of any sli/crossfire/microstuttering testing.

    P.S. FWIW, I got a steady 60fps on my phenom II 940 @ 3.2 + 6950 2GB w/5% oc max in game settings and vsync, with occasional dips in 50's. Campaign mode.

    P.P.S. at least we do get improved resolution, and full AA, xbox and ps only get 800x720 give or take with 2x MSAA I here. You can tell the detail given to the important character's faces since they are actual movie stars/actors, even when not in a cutscene.
  • -2 Hide
    silverblue , November 16, 2012 9:31 AM
    What resolution do you play at?
  • 2 Hide
    abbadon_34 , November 16, 2012 9:38 AM
    1920x1080, all in all not a very demanding game, but the single player campaign was quit enjoyable IMO well writen with it's multiple endings (except the strike missions, e.g. single player + bots, somewhat mandatory)
  • 1 Hide
    army_ant7 , November 16, 2012 9:54 AM
    Don, in the pics of the graphics settings on the 2nd page. I think you accidentally swapped the Medium and Low settings (though those are just pictures and not the actual tested settings ;) ). ojas noticed as well. It isn't such a big deal since a lot of people reading this might've figured which is which anyway. :) 

    Quote:
    ...doesn't support Surround or Eyefinity.
    That's an outrage! :p  But seriously, one would hope they release a patch that would give support for them, and not force users to use a hack or workaround.

    Hm... I wonder if it's because Treyarch or Activision consider having a wider FOV, an unfair advantage.

    I find it peculiar that you only used a 1GB HD7850, but not a 2GB version. I'm guessing it was because you didn't have one on hand, because I have a feeling that it might've shown different numbers compared to the former, especially with the 1600p test (considering the high resolution mixed with x8 MSAA, if I'm, not mistaken, the larger frame buffer (VRAM) might've helped). I'm not judging though, just pointing it out. :) 
  • 5 Hide
    EzioAs , November 16, 2012 11:21 AM
    Nice review. It probably would've been better if you could include a graph/table about the memory usage at low, med and high settings with different resolution.

    Do you guys think you could do an Assassin's Creed 3 Graphics Performance Review when the game comes out for the PC? Seeing as the game features a new engine, DX11 and a lot of patches and bug fixes for the PC, plus the developers themselves have taken lots of feedback on their forums to make it even better, I think it should be interesting.
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