Activision recently showed off the first teaser trailer for its upcoming sequel, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and developer Treyarch is using the sequel to bring the popular series into the future.  The company recently invited us out to take a sneak peek at the action with a few minutes of gameplay footage.

For the demo, Treyarch showed us two parts of the game.  The first and main one is taken out of the single player story mode, where a terrorist has taken control of America’s automated defenses, practically turning our own drones and walking tanks against us alongside an army led by a mysterious villian.  While his motivation hasn’t yet been revealed, the developers did indicate that there was a method to his madness thanks to a story supplied by The Dark Knight scribe David S. Goyer.

When the single player gameplay footage starts, a roving caravan of Hummers and a helicopter is escorting the female president to safety along with Dave Mason, the son of original Call of Duty: Black Ops soldier Alex.  As they drive on a Los Angeles freeway, it doesn’t take long for all hell to break loose when passing jets shoot down the helicopter, forcing the crew to evacuate their vehicles and run on foot.

During the attack, Alex has to fend off soldiers shooting from an overpass on the destroyed bridge while the others slide down to safety.  To assure that there are no attackers from above, he climbs into a high-tech turret which he uses to fire missiles at incoming drones.  He’s able to get a few shots off before the truck holding the turret begins slipping off the overpass, forcing him to jump out just in time as it goes crashing to the ground below.  

He then descends down to the lower level and takes on more soldiers, finding a nearby vehicle and helping the team make their escape as the drones destroy pieces of the freeway right in front of them.  This was probably the most exciting part of the demo, showing how much progress Treyarch has made with this familiar technology.  It really does resemble something you’d find out of a big-budget Hollywood film.

Following a brief driving segment (which players can control as they escape the dangers of the freeway), an ambush wrecks the truck and forces Alex to act against incoming soldiers by ducking into a building and going out into the wide open of a shopping plaza.  It’s here that we’re introduced to the walking tanks that you have to fight against, but as powerful as they are their legs are a definitive weakness.  Shoot them off and you’ll be able to circle around and pound them with lead, making them explode.

One useful new tool that will help out during firefights is the scoped assault rifle.  Using this, targets are highlighted in clear white so you can get a bead on a soldier and go for a headshot or wound them and finish them off with something more practical, preserving your ammunition.  This weapon is used quite efficiently, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg (anyone say missile turrets?).

Following the epic collapse of a nearby building (one that leaves the area smoky and hard to see anything), the area becomes blanketed with drones, forcing Alex to climb into a nearby jet and take them on in air combat.  This is another great segment that’s a crucial part of Black Ops II as you fly through the city, targeting enemies with an on-screen cursor and blowing them out of the sky.  This extremely fast segment never lost a hint of its pacing, displaying all of the action with a strong frame rate and lots of explosions.  And the finale?  Breathtaking, as Alex bails out of the jet just in time to watch it collide with a drone.  Great stuff.

The second part of the demo (yes, there’s more) involved the introduction of Overwatch.  This is a new single player approach to the game where you can view objectives from a virtual map while sitting at a distance.  Clearly marked on this map are both enemy and friendly characters.  At any time you can zoom around the map using your controller, finding a particular ally and taking control of them with the press of a button.  This introduces a new way to approach single player missions, as you can complete them your way, using everything from tanks to drones to machine gunners to mow down enemies, mark objectives and eventually drop an air strike that will level your target.

With Overwatch, Treyarch is introducing a new success or failure set-up.  Complete the mission the right way and you’ll be able to proceed with that story arc.  Fail, however, and the story continues, but it will have an effect on the ending.  It’s a great new gameplay approach that is sure to addict many players, especially those who like to compete across Call of Duty Elite.  (And yes, Black Ops II WILL include Elite integration.)

In addition, Treyarch is also bringing back a new zombies mode for the game, and is introducing a new four versus four multiplayer mode, similar to Left 4 Dead but modified for the Call of Duty world.  Sadly, this wasn’t shown at the event but we’re sure to know more over the next few months, leading into the game’s release on November 13 of this year.

Be sure to check back for more impressions from E3, along with more details about the Overwatch and Zombies modes.  You’re in for a hell of a ride!