It’s become a predictable routine, down to the point of it being like clockwork now. Every year, Activision will release a ‘new’ Call of Duty game in November, which will go on to break records at retail, and then in the numbers of hours clocked in online. Activision will then proceed to follow the title up with two expansions, which will add 3-5 new multiplayer maps to the main game.
Last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, developed by Treyarch, was the best Call of Duty game since Modern Warfare, with an excellent campaign and a fun to play multiplayer mode. The developers have since then added to the experience with Escalation, the first DLC set released for the title. The latest one, Annihilation, is notable for adding five more maps to the main multiplayer mode, which includes a Zombies map, Shangri-la.
Of course, at this point, if you’re reading this review, you probably already know the ins and outs of Call of Duty’s multiplayer already, and are most probably just wondering if the quality of the maps in this new set is worth the $15 premium that you’ll be charged for it. So, without stopping to explain the intricacies of Call of Duty’s fast paced gunplay, I’m just going to jump straight to the point and expound on whether the maps warrant the investment.
So, let’s cut straight to the chase. This map pack includes four maps for your regular multiplayer modes- Drive In, Hazard, Silo and Hangar 18. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at just how well constructed these maps were. Whereas I wouldn’t call any of them balanced- but then again, if you’re looking for balance in a Call of Duty game, you’re doing it wrong- they all serve the core gameplay of the game exceedingly well.
Drive In is a small, highly packed map, with little room to hide. It provides intense non stop run and gun action, and it reminds me a bit of the Nuketown map in the core Black Ops game, as well as the Stadium map from First Strike. It’s got everything- a vantage point for snipers (behind the neon signs, just to save you trouble), as well as iron fences to take cover behind. It’s fun to play, and I can certainly see it becoming one of the more popular maps.
We then have Hazard, and this is probably my least favorite one of the lot. The map seems to favor long range shots, which means that this vast map is paradise for snipers and campers. Considering that Call of Duty is all about fun, face to face gunplay, this kind of kills the pace, and it seems to heavily favor camping. I personally try to avoid this map as much as I can, but Call of Duty’s rather, shall we say skewed, matchmaking often lands me in this one anyway.
The next two maps- Silo and Hangar 18- are incredible, with the former being my favorite map of the bunch, as well as one of my favorite Black Ops maps overall. The map, which is modeled on a missile facility, has lots of narrow passageways, flank routes, warehouses to hide in, everything, and it favors the traditional Call of Duty gameplay, the kind that I prefer, the most. Hangar 18, on the other hand, a medium sized map, is great as well, especially with its vantage point in the center (although that can make you an easy target for any and every sniper). Unlike most other Call of Duty maps, Hangar 18 eschews the traditional vertical complexity in favor of a more two dimensional horizontal one.
Finally, there’s Shangri-la, for Zombies mode. It’s a romp to play through, and may just be the best Zombies map yet. If you enjoy Zombies mode, then Shangri-la would almost warrant the purchase of the map pack all on itself (except that the map pack is $15, and $15 for one map seems a bit excessive).
Ultimately, if you enjoy Call of Duty: Black Ops, and plan on playing it for some more time now (probably until Modern Warfare 3 hits later this year), then this purchase is recommended. I have some reservations still, based mostly on the price, but hey, the maps are high quality and well made, and above all, they’re fun. When playing Call of Duty, that, I think, is what matters the most.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
The maps are fun; the Zombies mode map in particular is a highlight; well made and well constructed, these will probably go on to become some of the most popular Black Ops maps
It's pricey; one map favors snipers and camping a bit too much
If you like Call of Duty: Black Ops, then there is no reason why you shouldn't purchase this map pack.