Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: Black Ops Uprising DLC

Today in gaming: we've got a little DLC today. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is a ultra-popular first-person shooter on the PC, Playstation 3, and the XBOX 360. Today, they launched a brand new DLC pack and I downloaded it at 5AM my time and have been playing ever since.

If you've never played this game, the multiplayer side of COD allows users to log on and face each other in six-on-six combat -- across the Internet. This second DLC pack adds four new multiplayer maps: magma, studio, encore, and vertigo -- as well as a zombie map called Mob of the Dead.

And I have to say that the maps are absolutely gorgeous.


This is the map that I was most looking forward to. The guys at Treyarch Studios asked the fans which board from Black Ops 1 they wanted to see make a comeback and we voted for the old Firing Range map.

So they took the old Firing Range map -- which was originally a small compound in the jungles of some awful third-world country -- and turned it into Studio -- a map of identical layout that puts you on the back lot of a Hollywood studio.

They have made changes to the map to eliminate the sniper spots and lightened the inside of the main two-floor compound so now it's a deathtrap. But other than that, the level is a sight for sore eyes and it's as good as I expected it to be.


Apparently, a rogue element has taken control of a music venue in London, England and you have to take back your blues house. The map is laid out in an amphitheater style, so you'll be weaving in and out of restaurants and bathrooms that dress the perimeter of the arc.

Then, there's also the main stage -- which you can stand on (or under) and attempt to control. However, there are dozens of sight lines, so only the best COD players will be able to survive there.


After that, I played Magma. The poor Japanese town of Kitakyushu is besieged by a nearby volcano -- yet we still have time to fight each other even though we are literally running over top of red-hot lava.

The town has a train station and that's the location for the fight.

The lava, by the way, is quite hot. If you stand on any of it, you'll instantly erupt into flames. There's a major river of lava running straight down the middle of town -- into which a bridge of rail cars has collapsed, allowing you to traverse the flames.

Visually speaking, this is the map that is most striking. As you might imagine, not only is Japan a beautiful place in general, but the volcano is constantly erupting in the background -- so when you look up into the sky, it's all ash and fire. Really neat.


I have to say, I did not like this particular map. It's the rooftop of a circular tower and everything (I mean everything) has an invisible wall preventing you from jumping on top of it. The helicopter pad has a single chain and a gate that you so clearly could easily hop over -- yet, your well trained expert killer marine just can't figure it out. So the best spot on the level is cordoned off.

The whole level is circular, but there are spots where sniping will occur. This one feels rushed and ill-conceived -- and from a visual standpoint is just a circle. The center of the tower is hollow for some reason, so you can actually jump to your death if you so desire. I'm not sure this level is going to be very popular.

Mob of the Dead

Finally, in addition to the multiplayer game, Black Ops 2 has a mode called Zombies, where you and your friends work together to slaughter wave after wave of undead. It's very popular with others, though I'm not a big zombies guy.

The zombie mode got some extra content today as well -- Mob of the Dead takes players into the prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco during the prohibition-era heyday. It also adds a new game mechanic to the zombies system -- ghosting. You can exit your body and fly around the board as a ghost -- a ghost, mind you, that can't pass through walls or float higher than a jump or anything ghosty like that. However, using spectral vision, you can get clues on how to escape. Also, while as a ghost you can vaporize most zombies.

It's an interesting twist to the zombie games that isn't too disruptive and brings a nice mix of advantages and drawbacks. Mob of the Dead also includes voice acting from several Hollywood actors and takes you through a well-replicated version of the prison. I saw the warden's office and the horrific scene in the showers; cool stuff.

I'm sure the zombies guys are just thrilled to death (that's a pun, people). This pack is aces in my book and I highly recommend it -- even with the one sucky level -- to anyone like me who lives on COD.

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