Today marks the one month anniversary of Call of Duty: Black Ops II For the past thirty days I've been playing this game exclusively, non-stop as I try to get a better feeling for the game and it's many new features. Everything else, has been put on hold!

This latest installment into the Call of Duty franchise has some significant changes and improvements, which I've spent some quality time checking out. From campaign mode, zombies to the online multi-player this title has some of the best game play I've experienced so far from any Call of Duty. It just keeps getting better and better!

The most obvious change is the new Pick 10 system that allows you to really customize your character and load-outs. Unlike previous titles that only allowed minor changes, this new system that Treyarch, (the game developer's behind Black Ops II) has introduced allows players full control and customization of their character. The possibilities are almost endless as far as the options and different load-outs that a person can create.

I really like the new Pick 10 system, and as you progress in the game and rank up in multi-player you can really do some amazing things that weren't possible in the past. You can literally create a class for just about any scenario, game mode, situation, play style or map!

Try out different combinations of weapons, equipment, lethal goodies and perks to see what works best for you. I'm still experimenting, but have found a few custom classes that work great for different game modes and maps. You've just got to get in there and start messing around to discover some great combinations for yourself. Luckily if you're new to Call of Duty, or even a seasoned pro, get inside tips and tricks on all this and more from Elite which is now FREE! Call of Duty

One of the things Treyarch did for this release was separate Elite from D.L.C's (downloadable content) and offer them as individual products. Elite with all it's functions and features is a stand alone program or addition and is now ABSOLUTLEY FREE! Plus, if you sign up you'll get exclusive player cards and weapon camos you can access in game to put the finishing touches on your custom classes and load outs!

Treyarch went a step further with their integration of Elite with Black Ops II in that you can track all your public and league stats, clans and even zombie progress all in one convenient location. It's basically it's own social network that connects you to other players, teams, celebrities and even industry insiders like the development team and the pros! Call of Duty

Now that Elite is a free service Treyarch are offering a Season Pass to players that will include all the D.L.C's plus additional player card items and Nuketown Zombies! You can purchase the pass for 4,000 MSP (Microsoft Points) which is roughly $49.99 This will save you about $10.00 versus purchasing all the map packs or D.L.C's separately.

By separating Elite from future D.L.C releases this alleviates a lot of the problems we experienced in the past of trying to play new maps in multi-player and running into very few lobbys where that was possible, due to other players not having them. This will certainly speed things up as all maps and additional content will be launched at the same time, minus Nuketown Zombies.

While the game play is far superior to other titles in my opinion, there's plenty of room for improvement. Being a Hardcore player I'd like to see additional game modes added to the list. Recently Treyarch did a patch to address several launch issues and added Kill Confirmed to Hardcore, but removed Free For All. Certainly core players make up most of the COD community, but us Hardcore players could use some love too. If not love, more game modes!

Some are experiencing lag, poor match making and other performance issues. Luckily for me this hasn't been the case. Sure I've ended up in some lobbies and games that lagged or had poor hit detection, flow and bad connectivity, but these have been the exception and not the rule.

This might not be the case depending on your internet and connection set up, to get the most out of the game you'll need to insure you optimize your system. You can get all kinds of information and best practices at the official Call of Duty: Black Ops II forums. Plus stay up to date with what's going on in the COD world. The forums are a great place for questions and to connect with fellow gamers.

One of the more major issues with the game has already been address by Treyarch who got plenty of feed back on the forums, they were quick to move on the problem and listen to the community. When the game launched back in November it included a probation function that would automatically penalize players who dashboard, or quit games early. This has always been a problem with COD and Treyarch attempted to do something about it.

This is a welcomed ideal and we all hopped it would reduce the amount of host migrations and disconnects, unfortunately it ended up causing more harm than good. A lot of people, including myself ended up getting probation time outs for others who quit the game or dashboarded. In other words if a game ended regardless of who did it, we all paid the price. Not only that but several other weird conditions or situations would cause a player to get hit with probation time outs ranging at first from five minutes, to one minute. This has since been fixed or at least amended to where it doesn't affect most players. I don't know what they did exactly but it seems to be working better if not properly now. Or at least I haven't been hit with probation in awhile.

My only other beef with Black Ops II other than adding additional Hardcore game modes is the sound. For whatever reason the sound in this game is very jumbled and it's incredibly difficult to hear things clearly like enemy footsteps and movement. Even with the Awareness perk and having a great head set I find it almost impossible to hear others near me, including friendlies. At least you can adjust the SFX, music and voice settings unlike MW3 but I hope in the near future Treyarch tweaks the sound to make it a little more distinguishable and identifiable so you can better hear what's going on around you. Their games have always had such amazing SFX, sadly this title doesn't share that quality with previous releases. Again this is something they could, better yet, should be addressed by the developers.

There's more right than wrong with this game and it's many options. Sure like all other COD titles there's a period of adjustment and tweaking that has to be done, but so far Treyarch has done a fantastic job of working with the community to resolve issues and problems as they arise. You won't grow bored or tired of Black Ops II anytime soon, with all it has to offer from the campaign / story mode, zombies and of course the multi-player!

I look forward to the continued improvements, not to mention all the D.L.C's that will be coming out soon. For me personally, I give Call of Duty Black Ops II 4.5 out of 5 stars!