When Treyarch began talking about Call of Duty: Black Ops II in early 2012, it was clear that Game Design Director David Vonderhaar and his team wanted to steer Activision’s first-person shooter in a different direction. Incorporating a campaign with branching storylines, a futuristic setting and Pick Ten, an innovative take on competitive multiplayer’s Create-A-Class model, Black Ops II is arguably the most ambitious entry in the franchise to date. Question is, do the developer’s downloadable packages follow suit? Or perhaps more importantly, are they be worth your hard-earned money?
Our Black Ops II DLC digest series kicks off with Revolution, the first of the game’s four planned map packs.
- Four distinct multiplayer maps: Hydro, Downhill, Mirage and Grind
- One co-op environment for Zombies: Die Rise
- One extra game mode for Zombies: Turned
- A bonus weapon: The Peacekeeper
- Xbox LIVE: 1200 MS Points
- PlayStation Network and Steam: $15.00 / £11.59 / €14.45
- Xbox 360: January 29th, 2013
- PlayStation 3 and PC: February 28th, 2013
*Season Pass holders will receive this DLC free-of-charge
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Set in a hydroelectric dam facility on the Indus River of Pakistan, Hydro is a tactician’s dream, full of bottlenecks and game-changing choke points. Constructed primarily of narrow corridors and enclosed spaces, sub-machine gun and shotgun users will feel at home here. The lower level spillway that splits the map into two symmetrical sections is a high-traffic zone that provides many opportunities to rake in kills. Be warned though; this channel will flood with water at intervals during the match, killing anyone caught by the rushing waves.
Centring on a luxurious ski lodge atop the Rhône-Alpes, France, Downhill is a snow-covered locale that, for me, conjures memories of Summit and Array from 2010’s Black Ops. As one of Revolution’s prettier, more sprawling maps, its surging slopes offer a number of elevated vantage points, long sight lines and winding flanking routes that cater to both offensive and defensive loadouts. Just keep an eye on the automated gondolas; they may be slow moving, but a collision with one will result in an instant death.
The largest of all four multiplayer maps, Mirage pits players against each other amidst the ruins of a sandstorm-struck resort in China’s Gobi Desert. The rooftops and balconies attached to the dilapidated hotel at its core provide plenty of verticality, which snipers will love, and the dunes’ undulations are sure to test the accuracy of those who strafe or hip-fire. Less experienced players might be wise to keep to Mirage’s borders to avoid becoming easy prey for pros, at least until they’ve familiarised themselves with its busy layout.
Grind, a colourful skate park on California’s Venice Beach, is a unique arena that could have been ripped straight from one of Neversoft’s Tony Hawk Pro Skater games. Whilst the map’s indoor centre promotes fast-paced, close-quarters skirmishes, its perimeter is strewn with pipes, verts, bowls and ramps – their unusual architectures forcing players to partake in constant, nowhere-is-safe action away from vertical walls and cover. Disappointingly, Grind lacks the interactivity present in Hydro, Downhill and Mirage. However, the countless curved surfaces make it the perfect RCXD playground, so be sure to take advantage of this controllable Scorestreak’s speed and mobility whenever possible.
Described as a personal defence weapon combing rifle-class accuracy and range with sub-machine gun durability and handling, the fully automatic Peacekeeper is the first gun in Call of Duty history to be offered as downloadable content. Designed with medium-range combat in mind, it has a 33-18 damage output and a somewhat sluggish fire rate, so close-quarters situations are best avoided. That said, its impressive range and minimal recoil match that of Black Ops II’s top-tier assault rifles, giving it a considerable advantage over most SMGs in longer-distance engagements.
If you can keep the enemy from invading your personal space, this hybrid firearm is a force to be reckoned with, but get caught up close and you’ll likely end up on the receiving end of a Killcam.
Die Rise occurs in post-apocalyptic Shanghai, China, the fight against the zombies taking place on two crumbling skyscrapers. Your mission is to descend the structures, dodging the undead and avoiding the various hazards that surround you – broken elevator shafts, collapsing foundations and deadly drops. The map introduces a new buildable Wonder Weapon called the Sliquifier, which fires a purple substance that has multiple applications. A new buildable device is also featured, a makeshift catapult that can fling foes and friends alike across gaps and chasms, and there’s a new enemy type to fear…
Turned is a community-inspired four-player Zombies game mode lasting six minutes. When the round begins, all players will spawn as zombies tasked with locating ‘the cure’, a glowing red syringe. The first person to collect it assumes human form, and must then deter his/her three infected stalkers for as long as possible – earning 10 points for every second survived. Each time the human player kills a zombie player their weapon is substituted with another comparatively weaker, akin to a reversed version of Gun Game. If a zombie succeeds in ‘turning’ the human, however, said zombie becomes the new target. Whoever accrues the most points before the timer reaches zero, wins.
To buy, or not to buy?
Overall, Revolution is a solid addition to the original Black Ops II experience. Having spent a good few days getting ‘pwned‘ on Hydro, Downhill, Mirage and Grind, it is evident that Treyarch has poured a praiseworthy amount of effort into the presentation and format of each – keeping competitive multiplayer feeling fresh and engaging. I am also very impressed with the easy-to-use Peacekeeper. It is remarkably well balanced, effective in almost all situations without being overpowered, and in time this will probably become my go-to SMG.
As for the Zombies content, Die Rise is a tonne of (frightening) fun. The amusement that comes from propelling the undead into the air is immeasurable, and the new level of challenge this Chinese stage presents successfully sustains the game mode’s longevity. Sadly, the same cannot be said about Turned. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a frantic and entertaining alternative to repelling unending waves of decomposed attackers, but the concept behind is far from novel, and the fact that it is only playable on the on-disc Diner map will probably cause players to walk away after just a few frolics.
Even so, there’s no denying that this is a generous add-on. Delivering variety and appeal in abundance, it’s simply a must for Call of Duty nuts. To buy or not to buy? I say buy.