The game that everyone loves to hate.
Before we knew it, December was upon us and all the games had arrived in stores in time for everyone to buy them as presents. We've got the reveal of our Game of the Year coming after Christmas, but for 24 days starting December 1 we'll bring you a new contender for the title. Please note that these games are in no particular order, but feel free to speculate on where they might appear in our final list.
Martin Gaston, Reviews Editor
Look, the campaign is rubbish. It is. I'm sorry. I really don't much care for it, and I feel like I must prefix any discussion about this game by remarking on the poor campaign. But, man, I like the multiplayer. I think Treyarch has struck a good, hearty balance between spawn points, map size and weapon versatility this year, and while snipers and Bouncing Betty abusers frequently cause me to think dark, horrible thoughts I'm still having far more fun playing Call of Duty online than I have in a couple of years.
Neon Kelly, Video Production Editor
How many people thought that 2012 would be the year that CoD came unstuck? A fair few, I'd wager. But aside from the travesty of Black Ops: Declassified – a failure that could be the nail in the Vita's coffin – the series continues to thrive, both with critics and with the gaming public. Every year there's a backlash, the brand takes some flak, then it goes away and hides till its health regenerates.
Personally, I think that the campaign in Black Ops 2 is fairly rubbish. Zombies mode is great, if largely unchanged. But to state the bleeding obvious, it's the multiplayer that matters. This year's tweaks and revamps are pretty sensible, and the consensus from veterans seems to be that this is a massive improvement over Modern Warfare 3. I'll have to take their word on that, as I simply don't have the energy or patience for CoD any more. It's not my game, and ultimately that doesn't matter one bit. Love it or loathe it, CoD isn't disappearing any time soon.
David Scammell - Deputy News Editor
Okay, so the opening was as weak as a tweenage girl's knees at a One Direction gig, but all it needed was Arnie, Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton, and Black Ops 2 could have been the best 80s sci-fi flick that never was.
Black Ops 2 was the first game in the series where I could really feel a chasm in quality and consistency between the different modes. Multiplayer was clearly the highlight, both of the game and possibly the series (although I'm still not convinced that we'll ever see maps as good as Call of Duty 4's again), while the campaign was muddied by machete-brandishing nonsense and guffaws. And Zombies...Well, I still don't personally see the appeal.
When the campaign's great, though, it's truly terrific, and I can see the multiplayer keeping its hooks in right the way up until tenth Prestige. And coming from someone who would have previously chosen a night of Battlefield over CoD, that's quite the compliment.
Matthew Nellis, Video Producer
Let's be honest here. Who is actually buying Call of Duty games for the single player campaign? Sure, Black Ops was surprisingly strong but the Modern Warfare series is like watching a film directed by McG, produced by Michael Bay and written by Paul W.S Anderson. That actually sounds pretty awesome... But Call of Duty has always been about the multiplayer, and this year is by far the strongest. Loadouts are more balanced, scorestreaks rely on objective play rather pure kills, and thank you Treyarch for removing Final Stand and Martyrdom. Thank you.