We're hunched behind a bus, taking refuge from the hail of bullets headed our way. A quick scan of Downtown Los Angeles' rubble-strewn streets with our XM8 rifle's optic scope helps us pinpoint the two unmistakable white silhouettes of enemy insurgents.
The first's out in the open and crumples under a couple of bullets. The second's a trickier customer and crouches behind cover. It's not enough to stop us, however, as we charge up a shot before releasing the trigger to instantaneously offload five bullets. They punch straight through a concrete pillar and the enemy's relatively delicate armour, scattering his innards soon after.
Pushing forward as Los Angeles' holographic billboards lopsidedly point the way to Hollywood and Santa Monica overhead, it's not long before we make out more enemies running into our sights and taking cover behind abandoned cars. Luckily our rifle's scope can pick out the fuel tanks and combustible engine parts most susceptible to bullets, and rather than track the bobbing heads a single (multi-bullet) charged shot in the direction of a stationary vehicle's weakest spot triggers an explosion powerful enough to kill everyone nearby.
It's a minor victory but there's no time to celebrate: our gunplay has triggered retaliatory action from our next foe. It's not a human. It's not a tank. It's not even a dog, this time, but a robot.
That's right, a frickin' robot.
Yes, this really is Call of Duty. No, it's not the series as you know it. It might be called Black Ops II, but this fight through a crumbling Los Angeles doesn't take place in midst of the Cold War of the first game or the present day of the Modern Warfare series. Instead, we've fast-forwarded to the future - 19 June 2025, to be precise - for a tech-fest of AI drones, screaming fighter jets, and hijacked military hardware. Even now, over a week after that glorious demo in Treyarch's theatre room, we're still reeling in shock from it all.
It takes Treyarch's studio head Mark Lamia well over an hour to fully explain the background story, but the crib sheet version goes like this: at around the year 2012 the world gets tetchy when China starts to hoard its supply of rare earth elements (seventeen metals integral to the production of almost every piece of major consumer and military electronics) and a new Cold War begins.
Up until 2012, Black Ops II follows real-life events; meaning Modern Warfare 3's World War 3 never happened in the Black Ops-verse. From 2012 onwards the world's biggest armies begin to scale down their men on the ground and instead significantly increase their reliance on drones for recon and wetwork.
And now the drones are out of control, basically. Or rather, they're being controlled by a madman named Raul Menendez - someone who felt wronged by America and China way back in the 1980s and has spent most of his life plotting his revenge. Now, 40 years on, he's hacked into the US defence network, assumed control of American drones worldwide and has diverted bombing fleets to Los Angeles, New York, the Pentagon, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing to do their very worst.