Spending far too much time playing video games, I always look forward to the release of new map packs for the Call of Duty series. Not that I enjoy paying extra for an already expensive game, but the new maps do add another dimension to the online experience, keeping it fresh and engaging.
As we’re looking forward to the release of COD: Ghosts on November 5, the next chapter in the Modern Warfare saga, Treyarch has dropped its last map pack for Black Ops 2.
This is the fourth release of downloadable content for the game and possibly the best to date. All four new maps are well conceived and play extremely well. Unfortunately, the map rotation on my preferred Hardcore Deathmatch meant I didn’t get to play the maps as often as I’d like, despite being online most of the night!
The new maps were available to play exclusively and without interruption in Core mode, but who wants to empty a magazine to put down the enemy? With time spent waiting for the new maps, I didn’t get time to sample the new Zombies map, which looks epic, but we hope to report on that soon.
Looking at the new multiplayer maps in detail, Pod is framed as a failed community housing area, abandoned cliffside in Taiwan. Its residents long gone, the environment is the scene for some epic battles.
With its multiple access points and ample cover, Pod makes for some energetic gameplay. It’s lack of long sight lines makes this map tricky for snipers, and campers can be easily outflanked, so it’s best not to remain in one place for too long.
The best strategy seemed to be Lightweight with a sub-machine gun and get running. Fast reactions are essential as enemy players pop out from pods or pathways with amazing speed. When I used this approached I was able to dominate the battlefield, but switching to a more cautious approach backfired quickly. Waiting for the enemy to appear meant you were quickly surrounded and sent to meet your virtual maker.
With good atmosphere and well drawn scenery, Pod is a new classic for the genre.
For some reason, I’ve always loved the winter maps. There’s something about the sound of shell casings hitting the fresh snow that gives them a different vibe.
Frost puts a new twist on the theme by adding a frozen canal through the middle of the map that can be crossed on foot or by two bridges. Remain on the ice too long and you’ll fall into the icy water, deterring campers from setting up shop. However, it’s a deadly thoroughfare if you choose to take it, allowing access to different points on the map and providing boats for cover.
The city streets have a number of narrow alleys that quickly become loaded with fresh bodies as the death toll rises but you can duck into any of the houses of stores and fire from the many windows. This is particularly deadly across the river and provides the snipers somewhere to call their own. Of course, you can quickly outflank them, but watch out for the claymores. I stumbled into far too many of those!
Again, its narrow paths and short sight lines make Frost better suited to the fast running game than sniping, but there is plenty of cover for a surprise ambush if you can predict the enemy’s path with a UAV.
The action was as frantic in Frost as it was in all these new maps and ensured an enjoyable evening when the rotation finally came around. Hopefully, the algorithms will be better this weekend…
I have to admit I usually feel cheated when the developers palm you off with an old map. The challenge is to learn a new environment, and recycling old maps seems like fraud, but Takeoff isn’t your usual rehash. For starters, it’s based on the excellent Stadium map from the original Black Ops First Strike DLC but it’s been totally redrawn as an offshore rocket launch pad.
The new environment had me stumped for a while as I tried to find familiar paths and entry points. The search combined with overall familiarity made it a great map. Several areas have been changed. You can now access new platforms and some hideouts are more open but it remains a great map.
As with Stadium, you will be punished by snipers here. The sight lines are long and sneaky. They could be above you or tucked into a dark corner, so you really need to be aware of your surroundings.
Once again I went for a Lightweight running attack with a Vector sub-machinegun but got punished in the early games. Greater caution is needed to keep your kill/death ratio in positive numbers.
If you never played Stadium, Takeoff will be a real treat, and for those who did, it’s still as challenging as ever.
Back to my point about recycling old maps, I was concerned that the inclusion of Courtyard from COD: World at War but be another failure but again, treyarch pulled it off.
For starters, WaW is a distant memory, so the revisit was welcome, but it’s almost unrecognizable as the original Buddhist temple environment. For this version, it’s been re-imagined as an archeological dig site in Afghanistan and is another triumph.
The map provides a number of narrow chokepoints as well as a wide-open central area. There are platforms to shoot from and several longer passageways to ambush or snipe. In fact, it seemingly offers everything for the COD player, rewarding the runner more than the sniper in this first viewing. However, I suspect the snipers will soon find their preferred positions, just as they did in WaW. That said, the multiple access points and walled areas provide plenty of cover to ensure the action remains fast-paced.
Our mission for the weekend is to delve into the new Zombie map called Origins. This is an aspect of the game Treyarch has focused on and reintroduces some aspects from very first Zombies map featured in COD: WaW.
So the game is set in a Dieselpunk-stylized World War I France and sees the original heroes return – Tank, Nikolai, Takeo, and Richtofen. For the Apocalypse map, Treyarch has partnered with rock band, Avenged Sevenfold, whose new song, “Shepherd of Fire” headlines the soundtrack to the Zombies experience.
Famed comicbook illustrator and painter, Alex Ross, was also involved, providing original Zombie art depicting the four characters. Against this backdrop, the carnage can commence.
COD: Black Ops 2 Apocalypse is available now on Xbox Live for the Xbox 360 for Microsoft points equivalent to $14.99, or a part of the Season Pass. It will be available on PS3 later. For more info visit www.callofduty.com/blackops2