Black Ops 2 is a fast-paced first-person-shooter. For a greater and smoother gameplay experience, it’s best that you follow our optimization guide. Off course if you’re an owner of a monstrous rig, then for sure skip this article entirely.
First things first, make sure your system meets the minimum requirements for the game.
- Processor: 2.4 GHz dual core CPU
- Memory: 2GB RAM (32-bit OS), 4GB RAM (64-bit Windows OS)
- Hard Drive: At least 16GB of free space
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT
- Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible
- OS: Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 or Windows 8 (XP not supported)
- Internet: Initial installation requires Internet connection for Steam authentication
Know Your Performance Rate
There is a built-in FPS indicator which you should enable. Once turned on, a yellow-colored FPS counter will be displayed on the top right corner of your screen. This number will inform you of your current performance level. To enable the Draw FPS option head into Settings & Advanced.
As with every first-person-shooter you’ll need to get a stable and at least 60 FPS if not higher. Closely watch your counter when you engage into battles. A low FPS will cause frame stuttering and an annoyance to the gameplay.
Black Ops 2 Graphics Settings
Resolution: Resolution highly depends upon the capabilities of both your graphics card and monitor. A lower resolution like 1280 x 1024 will get you higher FPS than say 1920 x 1080. The difference is off course in image quality. Low resolutions will have a more pixelated image while higher resolutions will show a sharper image. However, higher resolutions also mean more load on your graphics card and may reduce overall performance.
Display Mode: For those wanting to run your game in a window on your desktop can do so by selecting Windowed. Once enabled the game will run in a borderless windows which will take up your entire screen. This will prevent any of your desktop from showing in the background and also increase performance at the same time.
Note that you can switch between windowed and fullscreen modes at any time by pressing ALT+Enter.
Monitor: Those with multiple monitors can select the monitor on which they want the display to be.
Brightness: A slider will determine the brightness of your screen.
Field of View: FOV determines the amount of world you can see on your screen through the player’s eyes. A higher FOV means more vision and hence, gives an advantage in multiplayer. The FOV range in Black Ops 2 is between 65 and 80 degrees, with the default being 65. Increasing FOV may reduce performance slightly.
Shadows: This is a very important feature of the game because it partly determines if your game will eventually play with a higher and most importantly a stable FPS.
The option enables dynamic shadows which means that you’ll gets to see realistic shadowing that changes according to the light sources. Increasing this from low to medium or high will increase the quality of those shadows. High shadows will eat a lot of your system’s power.
Ragdoll: When enabled, dead bodies in multiplayer maps will be thrown about when, let’s say a grenade explodes nearby. Disabling Ragdoll will have all dead bodies lie stationary and not react to the environment. The option when enabled has no real affect on your system’s performance.
Texture Quality & Filtering
Texture Quality: Having a higher setting for Textures will result in more defined objects and surfaces in the game. Shapes will have more sharper curves and edges, the land and surfaces will have more detail. Off course keeping textures low will give a great boost to your FPS counter, provided you can live with playing an ugly game. Note also that higher texture settings will cause the game to stutter if your Video card has not enough VRAM.
Texture Filtering: This option improves the clarity of the textures. Like I mentioned above, higher settings will give a more clearer, crisp and sharp surface.
To ensure the highest level of texture filtering, you should also open the NVIDIA Control Panel, and under the Program Settings tab select ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II’ in the first drop-down box – select the mp .exe file for multiplayer, and the sp .exe file for singleplayer campaign. If a profile isn’t shown here, untick the ‘Show only programs found on this computer’ check box and try again. Scroll down and click the ‘Texture Filtering – Quality’ box, and select ‘High Quality’ mode, then click the Apply button.
Anti-Aliasing: Anti-Aliasing smooth outs jagged lines. In games you might have noticed that the edges of walls and obstacles look very crude and pixelated at distances. This causes players to sometime not see an enemy clearly who is hiding behind that said wall or object. Anti-Aliasing sharpens those edges and reduces the distracting shimmering and crawling of those lines when in motion.
If you don’t have a high-end card then it’s best to keep this disabled. You can check yourself by first playing with 2x AA. If you have decent FPS in the game then try to increase the said setting.
Ambient Occlusion: The feature of Ambient Occlusion is pretty much for those players who have a high-end rig. This option, when turned on creates more realistic lighting and shadows. In all it puts a lot of load on your system.
Depth of Field: In any open game you might have noticed how objects in the distance appear blurry and foggy. Depth of Field changes that, making them more sharper and distinct.
Low settings provide minimal effects but from medium onwards, players will get to see a good noticeable change. Aiming down your weapon’s iron sights will give you a heightened sense of reality.
Number of Corpses: The number of corpses lying on your screen can drink away a lot of memory. Reduce this number if you’re looking for a better FPS rate. The available options are Tiny (3 corpses at a time), Small (5 corpses at a time), Medium (10 corpses at a time), and Large (16 corpses at a time).
In multiplayer mode this setting is unavailable, and the number of corpses is fixed at 5.
Sync Every Frame: In most games it’s commonly reffered to as Vertical Synchronization (VSync). When enabled, your graphic card will attempt to synchronize with your monitor’s refresh rate. This basically means that your maximum FPS will be capped at around 60 or 75.
Tearing happens when portions of the image on screen may appear out of alignment. This can be fixed through the Sync Every Frame option:
- Enable it to remove all tearing. However, this can also reduce your overall performance by up to 50% or more, and will cause lag.
- Enable it along with Triple Buffering. This will remove tearing, but without the loss in overall performance.
- Disable it but enable Adaptive VSync instead (found in Adaptive option under the Vertical Sync setting in the NVIDIA Control Panel). This method automatically disables VSync whenever your framerate falls below your refresh rate, preventing any performance loss, while also smoothing out framerates and minimizing tearing.
- Simply disable it and remove the FPS cap and any sort of lag.
Max Frames Per Second: This option becomes available once you disable VSync. The numbers only determine your maximum Frames Per Second and not maintain your FPS at that chosen figure.
In multiplayer mode, the maximum framerate is automatically capped at 200 FPS, even if you choose Unlimited.
Draw FPS: Mentioned at the start of the guide, Draw FPS enables the FPS counter which shows your the performance rate of your system. High FPS means a good optimum setting.
Black Ops 2 Advanced PC Tweaks
There are other ways to get more graphic changing options in the game. These will not necessarily have any importance for those not owning a high-end rig.
Other Antialiasing Methods
SMAA: Subpixel Morphological Anti-Aliasing (SMAA) can be enabled by using the free injectSMAA utility. SMAA further smooths out jagged outlines. Power lines, foliage, walls, windows, fences; they all will get a nice boost.
To implement SMAA, follow these instructions:
- Download the InjectSMAA utility.
- Extract the files.
- Move the files under this folder into the base directory of Black Ops 2. Typically this is \Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Call of Duty Black Ops II\.
- Launch the game as normal and SMAA will automatically be in effect.
It is recommended that you disable the in-game FXAA option to prevent blurring and conflicts. To toggle SMAA off/on at any time, use the PAUSE key. This may also bring up the game menu, but it enables or disables SMAA at the same time.
To remove SMAA completely, delete the files you moved into the base directory of Black Ops 2 in Step 2.
SSAA: Super-Sample Anti-Aliasing (SSAA) is another power-booster which will sharpen edges and surface textures.
You should disable Ambient Occlusion if you’re using SSAA, else it will cause additional blurring in scenes.
You can enable normal Transparency SSAA in the NVIDIA Control Panel quickly and easily as follows:
- Make sure you have downloaded and installed the latest graphics drivers for your card.
- Open the NVIDIA Control Panel.
- Select ‘Manage 3D Settings’ in the left pane, then go to the Program Settings tab.
- Go to ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II’ in the program list – select either the t6sp.exe profile for singleplayer, or t6mp.exe profile for multiplayer. If the game isn’t shown anywhere in the list, untick the ‘Show only programs found on this computer’ box and retry.
- Under the ‘Antialiasing – Mode’ setting, select ‘Enhance the application setting’.
- Under the ‘Antialiasing – Transparency’ setting, select a supersample mode. In this case we will use ‘4x (supersample)’.
- Click the Apply button.
- Launch Black Ops 2, and to correctly enable TRSSAA, make sure that you select an MSAA setting corresponding to your SSAA sample rate.
You can implement other forms of SSAA, such as Sparse Grid Supersampling, by using the free NVIDIA Inspector utility. Follow the steps below:
- Download and install NVIDIA Inspector
- Launch NVIDIA Inspector and click the small Driver Profile Settings button (the crossed wrench and screwdriver icon) next to the Driver Version box.
- In the window which opens, click the Profiles drop-down box and select ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II’. If the profile isn’t there, see Step 1.
- For ‘Antialiasing – Behavior Flags’, select None.
- For ‘Antialiasing – Mode’, select ‘Enhance the application setting’.
- For ‘Antialiasing – Transparency Supersampling’, select an option. In our example, we will use ‘4x Sparse Grid Supersampling’ (4x SGSSAA).
- Click the ‘Apply changes’ button at the top right to save your settings. You can close NVIDIA Inspector if you wish as it doesn’t need to be active for your settings to work.
- Launch the game as normal, and set the in-game Anti-Aliasing option to an MSAA level matching the SGSSAA level that you have applied.
To undo these changes at any time, click the small green NVIDIA logo button at the top of the profiles screen in NVIDIA Inspector, and the Black Ops 2 profile will be returned to its default settings.
Black Ops 2 Graphics Tweaks
If all this is still not enough then perhaps you would like to consider the SweetFX Shader Suite. The suite features SMAA anti-aliasing, improvements to the game’s visuals, lighting and more.
Usage of the mod is similar to the InjectSMAA tool, but you toggle the effects on or off using the SCROLL LOCK key by default, and must adjust them manually by editing the SweetFX_settings.txt file.
You can even edit the settings text file while the game is running, save your changes and press the PAUSE key to update the screen with the new effects, making testing much easier.
Download it here.