Once again Activision has taken over the price of the Call of Duty map packs and what was once a 5 map pack for $10.00 in Treyarch’s last Call of Duty title (World at War), is now $15.00 or 1200 Microsoft Points. So thanks Activision, for raping our wallets with plans to drive the Call of Duty franchise into the ground much like the Guitar Hero franchise. Anyway, now that I got that out of my system, let us move on to the review of the first DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops, entitled the ‘First Strike’ map pack with five maps. The pack includes four multiplayer maps and one zombie map, which are probably the best I have seen yet in a Call of Duty map pack as a whole. For the most part each map has its own unique feature, which is something that has not been done before, at least in the world of Call of Duty, so kudos for that plus Treyarch.
Alright, as I said before, the ‘First Strike’ Map Pack for Black Ops comes with 5 maps and they are only available for download for the Xbox 360 exclusively at this time, while all other platforms must wait a month to get their hands on what might just be the best map pack seen in the Call of Duty franchise. Obviously, there are many more people playing the Call of Duty games on the Xbox 360 so maybe Playstation 3 should implement a F***ING PARTY CHAT that does not require an ‘eye’ camera and one that can be used in game, much like the Xbox 360 one. As far as PC players being used to this sort of thing using other chat tools like Ventrilo, your just plain old screwed for a month. Boy, do I get side tracked.. now continuing with the review, the four multiplayer maps are named Kowloon, Discovery, Stadium and the Berlin Wall, while the Zombie map is entitled Ascension for good reason once you have played it or seen it in action.
Let’s start off with the map Kowloon, pronounce it however you want, just remember, if you say it wrong you’re an idiot. Kowloon is inspired by the single player level where you play in Kowloon City, China (Dual-Wielding heaven for anyone that can’t remember and, if you have not played the single player game yet.. you should probably do so.. like now.) Although inspired by the level, the map itself was built from ground up and the layout could not be anymore different, as it’s mostly just a reminiscence of the single player level (buildings, close lines, style). Now one of the coolest features of this map is the fact that there are zip-lines in it and at first you are like “weee, zip lines, I’m having fun”, then you realize that you are so vulnerable using them it’s nearly a 100% death sentence… unless used properly, especially in objective mode types. I wanted to have a video review of the map pack but I realized last second that you cannot save combat training matches and unfortunately there is no play list for the new maps, at least right now. So I could not play the new maps publicly at will which was a bummer even though they did tend to show up more often. So, in the Game Trailers video preview of the maps here you can see a zip-line being used at around 2:15 where he is already getting shot at. While the whole zip-line deal is the cool new thing for Kowloon there are also many, many vantage points on the map. You can get on top of buildings, roof, little corners that are great to catch an unexpected enemy. This can also be a bad thing as you get killed from someone that is prone on a rooftop that you don’t even know how to get to. That mostly sums up Kowloon and the zip-lines will prove quick access to areas if used properly in modes like Search & Destroy or Headquarters, among others. Team Deathmatch, however, leaves you a sitting duck on those things though.
Next up is the Berlin Wall which is separated by east and west sides with the majority of the map covered in snow. Now without my mentioning anything, you can already guess that there is a big wall separating the map in half. Like most of the new multiplayer maps though, each has a little unique feature, will the Berlin Wall having the ‘No Mans Land’ area. Pressing start on your controller reveals red areas on the map in between the walls, and going inside those areas is a death sentence as you are shot at by guards with turret guns. With a little skill, luck, knowledge of the map and the right perks (Meaning ‘Lightweight’ & ‘Marathon’) you can make it through ‘No Mans Land’ and survive. Doing this on Team Deathmatch, no big deal however pulling this off in pretty much any objective type mode, especially a mode like Search & Destroy can turn a match around making it impossible to lose. There is always the luck factor though that you have to keep in mind but I found this tactic to be able to give players a lot of room to strategize different game plans. Berlin Wall is also a good map for Sniping if you are a good one and know the right vantage points.
Moving on, we have the map Discovery, which is an abandoned German outpost that was used for research in World War II. This is another Antarctic snow map and I feel this is the ultimate map for Sniping and not just from long range as you will encounter enemies that are at medium range and with enough skill a Sniper is much more effective than anything else. For those of you who prefer to camp with a sniper, just like having long range targets or want to take advantage of the very large map Sniping, it is also a plus there as well which is why I think this is a Snipers”s dream. Now with this map among some of the other new maps, it’s not hard to kill yourself by falling to your death and in a giant Chasm in the middle of the map. It is bound to happen to you as least once. The Chasm has multiple ways to cross it including a high and low way to get across and this is where the ‘new’ destructible environment comes into play in the map pack. The lower walkway looking unsafe just to cross at all, can be easily be destroyed by a grenade or any type of explosive. This was the only destructible environment I saw on this or any of the new maps,which was kind of disappointing.
The last multiplayer map is Stadium and this is a way more Call of Duty’esk map in which you run around a Hockey Stadium that has corners and rooms all around it, — a bright change from the other maps. There is really no special feature on this map other than there being a hockey rink in the Stadium which was quite small inside. This map most reminds me of some of the Modern Warfare 2 maps where you can camp but not very well. Player maps actually had a lot of buildings with rooms and second floors with windows, that could let you catch an enemy off guard or vice-versa. Lots of balconies on the maps. which can make you an open target or give you a jump on someone fleeing past you unaware of your presence.
Now for the best part of the Zombie Map ‘Ascension‘ , which features plenty of new stuff to keep you thinking and wondering what will Treyarch think of next. I think this mode is the best work the developer has ever thought of, created and expanded on. They could sell a Zombie game and make tons of money… I know I would buy it, not to mention that I know people who are purchasing this ‘First Strike’ map pack to play ONLY this new Zombie map Ascension with no intention of playing multiplayer unless it involves zombies. Anyway in Ascension you start in some strange lab that doesn’t have roofing. Once you turn the power on, you can take these “Ascending” platforms that take you across the map, no teleporting, — just these hovering platforms that are very helpful in getting away from zombies but usually take you back to the beginning where zombies love waiting for you. Using them all will get one of the four Achievements/Trophies added from the DLC including giving you access to the Pack-a-Punch Machine area which, as usual, turns your puny weapon into a beast mode gun for $5000. Another Achievement requires you to Pack-a-Punch, a weapon before wave 8. Trying it on wave 8 wont give you the Achievement. Two new weapons and two new perks are in the game which are:
New Weapons: (Only found in the mystery box and you get a stock 3 of them)
– Gersch Device “Black Hole Bomb” – This sucks all enemies in any close vicinity, netting 50 points per zombie sucked in and is just an awesome site to see. Used by pressing (LB)
– Matryoshka Dolls – Cluster bomb, exploding four times. (LB)
– Stamin-up – Increases the player’s movement speed and sprint duration.
– PhD Flopper – It lets the player drop a small nuke whenever they are downed or dive to prone from an elevated area and reduces fall damage significantly, as well as being immune to explosives, for example the new Matryoshka Dolls. Pretty f****** handy I would say.
The cast you will play is is the good old team of Takeo, Nikoli, Dempsey, and Rictoffen. There are also as expected numerous traps throughout the extremely large map, and you can nail an Achievement for killing a monkey with a fire trap which is not hard. The only thing is you might be asking yourself “Well what the hell are monkeys running around for?” There are no wolves that show up on Ascension but monkeys, well they don’t like it when you have a perk and once the power is on they can come at anytime. They are hard to see as everything gets darker and they will steal your perks. So those traps are actually useful. So overall the achievements for once are not as ridiculous as past ones are all luck and the change of pace with the new weapons, perks (and who can forget the monkeys) puts this map as well as the rest of the maps in the book. There are tons of secrets on the map and here are three of them (teddy bears, radio and Russian dolls secrets) one of which is a secret song (teddy bears), the music is called “Abracadavre” by Elena Siegman and Kevin Sherwood. Video tutorial below but I’m sure more secrets will be found.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Almost each map has added unique feature never seen in the Call of Duty series. Zombie map includes to expand with new weapons and perks.
The price is once again outrageous, even though the content is good. Playing the content alone is much less fun than it is with friends.