Black Ops 2 is in regards to the engine powering it, version 3.0 of the Infinity Ward (IW) engine – IW 3.0 powered Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: World at War and the original Black Ops. If you're worried the visuals in Black Ops 2 won't be up to snuff, Treyarch head Mark Lamia assures us all the engine has seen numerous tweaks, downplaying its age in a recent audio interview summed up over on One of Swords.
Lamia said "a pretty significant amount of work" in Black Ops 2 is going into the graphics and the lighting. "I think what people are asking for is for us to push. They want us to make a better-looking game; they want things. I don't think those are things people can't ask for. We asked ourselves that very same question - we wanted to advance the graphics. I think the questions are valid. The answer may not need to be an entirely new engine, but you might need to do an entire overhaul of your entire lighting system. The trick is, we're not willing to do that if we can't keep it running at 60 frames per second - but we did that this time."
Lamia gave an analogy akin to remodeling a home – not with a rocket launcher, but rather he talked about sectioning off parts of the metaphorical house for more local improvements. "There's a lot of good still in that foundation that you wouldn't get rid of, and we don't. We look to advance in the areas that support our game design. Engines, each time they get touched, they change. The creators alter them; they don't modify what they don't need to, and then they alter what they need to. You can't make a competitive product if you're not upgrading that engine along the way."