There’s no denying that those extras for Call of Duty Black Ops 2 are a tad pricy. A season pass is going to cost you a pretty penny, so it better be worth it. Revolution was the first map pack released for the game, but it wasn’t exactly the best example of DLC, appealing to hardcore fans only in the long run. Uprising follows in those footsteps with an approach that only hits some of the necessary targets.
The first of these new maps that we’re looking at, Magma is an odd one. It’s constrictive, filled with dead ends and designed to be smaller than previous arenas with some environmental hazards thrown in for good measure.
Overall, it captures the look of a ruined Japanese town rather well, from ripped up roads through to broken subway carts and abandoned karaoke bars. But the main claim to fame on this map is going to be the sunken pit in the middle, which is going to tread between being a blessing and a bane to hardpoint players.
Several entry points, a vertical bridge and the magma itself is going to make defending this specific hardpoint when it comes up an absolute nightmare for unskilled gamers (guilty as charged), a fact that you’ll also feel in a game of Domination when the twelve year old on the other end of the team speak berates you for not knowing your stuff. Damn kids.
And with the magma itself creating dangerous hotspots throughout the map, you’re going to find yourself jumping over cracks and messing up your rhtym in this tense map. I understand that such a feature is meant to add to the gameplay experience, but on a smaller map such as this, it can be completely aggravating.
This is a tricky map, yet in a way a rather boring one as well. There’s a failure to take really take advantage of the vertical nature of Vertigo, as matches are quickly going to be devolve in a Benny Hill sketch, with players running round and round the whole time.
Vertigo is a more a blast from the past, offering some older action reminiscent of previous COD games, and less interactivity than you’ll find in the maps of today. But I will say that it does strike a good balance of shifting between claustrophobic indoor sections that favour shotguns, to more open areas where long-range players can get to work.
While there is still an element of accidental vertical death just waiting for players on that Mumbai skyscraper, the map could have really benefited by adding more such environmental hazards into the map.
Pretty much my favourite map on this list. Studio takes the firing range from the first Black Ops, and tweaks it with some Hollywood set design to glam it up. But it still retains the close quarters appeal of that original map, with various areas that focus on tight fire-fights.
And it’s a bloody deceptive map as well. You’ve got to remember that this a zone from Tinsel Town, which means that your cover might not be so protective at the end of the day, a lesson learnt the hard way when you discover the bricks that you’re hiding behind happen to be part of some cheap plywood.
But that’s part of the charm here, as shifting from a green screen studio to a Godzilla set can keep players distracted and off guard, in a map that is fun and vibrant. Add to that some sneaky moving targets that leer at you from behind several windows and doors, and you’ve got a tactical situation that will favour the prepared and leave rookie players performing desk-pops at every corner.
While Studio is undoubtedly a Hollywood influenced map, Encore is the rock ‘n roller of this new DLC. a half-circle of open zones and cramped indoor locations has resulted in a map where any battle, and especially games of Hardpoint, are going to be fought from multiple sides.
It’s also a map that is littered with sneaky avenues with which skilled players can stealth their way in from behind, making this a loud and garish arena with several slight vertical options as well. It’s most certainly a map for the pros with a rock concert gimmick thrown on, but it fits in well with the rest of the offerings in Uprising.
Mob of the Dead
This is pretty much the best part of the DLC. Using the voices and likenesses of several renowned Hollywood actors who happen to be easily associated with gangster roles, Mob of the Dead showcases some clever tweaking to the zombie formula on the part of Treyarch.
Stuck on Alcatraz Island AKA Sean Connery’s The Rock, the twist here is that all four of the playable characters on offer are already dead. You start the game out as a ghost who also happens to be imbued with some force lightning powers that you can use to resuscitate a prisoner or zap some zombies. Hell, you can ever power up some machinery with your ghostly essence.
Of course, you can’t stay in that form forever, as a timer counts you down to oblivion, so finding a body is essential here. Afterlife has a massive impact on the gameplay, and makes certain that death itself is not final for players. Which is a welcome relief when that damn Warden decides to terrorise you every couple of waves. Just be aware that killing any zombies in an astral form isn’t going to earn you any points in the long run, which keeps the balance intact here.
Treyarch has also made good use of the actors present for this expansion, Ray Liotta, Joe “Pants” Pantoliano, Michael Madsen and Chazz Palminteri. They’re clearly enjoying the work that they’re being paid to do, something evident in the gleeful manner that Liotta hands out insults and comments throughout a game.
But other than that, it’s business as usual. Earn points from zombie-pops, unlock new areas so that you can progress and find the right items that you need so that you can escape Alcatraz. Simple, but clearly benefitting from the Afterlife addition that adds the new wrinkle that the mode needs.
It’s easier said than done though, and with Alcatraz itself being a map of tight corridors and corners, you’ll find this to be a challenging expansion that really needs some decent teamwork for you to succeed.
The only downside though, is that new players will still find themselves lost, as goals are never clear and some of the mechanics on offer aren’t exactly obvious. But when a bunch of veterans tackle this mode, it’s most likely one of the best zombie maps on offer.
Call of Duty Black Ops 2: Uprising was reviewed by Darryn Bonthuys on a Xbox 360