Rule number one of crafting a modern day first-person shooter: prepare map DLC to keep things fresh after launch. If any company has that concept down to an art, it is Activision and their various Call of Duty developers. The 360 version of Black Ops 2 recently received its first dose of DLC in the form of the Revolution DLC. The content is currently available on the Xbox Live Marketplace (PC and PlayStation 3 owners of the game will be receiving the content at the end of the February).
I have spent the last couple of weeks playing on the new maps and have to admit it is a solid offering. Let’s look at the content piece by piece:
New weapon: Peacekeeper SMG
In a first for the Call of duty series the Revolution pack contains a new weapon for use in the game. The Peacekeeper SMG is a hybrid weapons that features the fast fire rate of an SMG with the accuracy and range of an assault rifle. It is pretty much the best of both worlds and a very solid addition to the weapon roster. You will be able to apply all of the same paint jobs and visual tweaks to the Peacekeeper that you can with other weapons, truly making it your own.
Multiplayer map: Downhill
Set in a ski resort near the French Alps, Downhill will feel very familiar to anyone who played the original Black Ops. This map is a snow-covered escape similar to that of the original Summit map. This time however, instead of an abandoned military installation the map depicts and abandoned tourist resort. There is a lot of attention to detail, particularly in the in the various ski shops and lodges around the map.
There is a sense of verticality to the map as you move up and down the small area on this mountain; these vertical paths are made up of distinct lanes that make it easy to control traffic for the most part. This is a very solid map, arguably one of the best in the pack and suitable for all sorts of game types although objection games types fit this one better than most other maps. There are lots of good hiding spots and potential choke points for squads to entrench their selves in throughout the entire layout.
The one disappointing thing about Downhill is its lack of interactive aspects. There are plenty of interesting details such as fully a fully operational ski lift and a variety of snowmobiles scattered around; unfortunately, these are simply here for eye candy. The ski lifts themselves are a danger however and can kill you if you get stuck in their path; however, I can’t help but wish that I could camp inside one of them and snipe as I move up and down the mountain. The same feeling is felt when I encounter the snowmobiles; we’ve ridden them before in other COD games, so it isn’t that far of a stretch to wish for the ability to interact with them. Aside from this annoyance, this is a very enjoyable map.
Multiplayer map: Grind
As the title implies, Grind is set inside a West Coast skate park; you almost get the feeling that this environment was ripped right out of one of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games. This is an incredibly fun map, arguably the best in the pack thanks to both its large size and diverse landscape. It isn’t just fun to play on, but perfect for nearly every game type available in the game.
There are lots of buildings and enclosed places, which establish choke points and bases in objective type games. When playing deathmatch style, these same areas do a great job in keeping the battles personal and eliminate the interference of soldiers who may interject in your skirmishes. There are even multiple floors in some of these buildings which will add a vertical element to an otherwise flat environment. You get a similar feeling when battling outside as well thanks to the various bowls and half pipes; these things become pseudo-deathtraps thanks to their enclosed walls.
Multiplayer map: Hydro
This map is designed for up close and personal combat situations. Set in the confinement of an abandoned-yet-functional hydroelectric power plant, Hydro is all about enclosed corridors and spaces. There are multiple levels including a lower level that is occasional flooded with water and can drown out unlucky combatants.
This level reminds me of a smaller version of Radiation in the original Black Ops in terms of its design and layout. This one, as I mentioned, is smaller though. I thoroughly enjoy playing on this match, especially in deathmatch style game types. There are a lot of nice nooks and crannies scattered around the environment both for hiding and for escaping skirmishes; it is important for you to learn them so that you don’t get trapped by the enemy.
Multiplayer map: Mirage
Mirage is easily the weakest of the four multiplayer maps in this pack. Despite the description given in the game, this map isn’t anywhere as interesting as it should be. The game is set around a luxury vacation rest during a sand storm; to me this conjures up thoughts of Spec Ops: the Line but what you experience isn’t anything remotely close. The design is relatively similar to that of Downhill, but it doesn’t have the intricacies or variety present in that map.
The map is bland in almost every aspect, especially in color and variety of the layout. The only exciting aspect is the sand storm itself which ends up being nothing more than a visual effect and doesn’t actually impact the gameplay; there is a lot of missed-potential here after seeing what 2K’s development crew did with Spec Ops.
New zombie map: Die Rise
With the zombie aspect of the game getting its own dedicated section rather than being a simple bonus mode, it is only suiting that it gets its own share of additional content as well. The Revolution pack brings an entirely new map to the zombie mode of the game in the form of Die Rise. In the short time that I have had this pack (compared to the game’s release) this has quickly become my favorite map to play on when slaughtering the undead.
Die Rise is set in a crumbling skyscraper. You start at the top and must descend to the bottom surviving not only the undead but also the crumbling hazards that remain in the broken structure of the building. You have to pay a lot closer attention to your environment than you do in most zombie maps as the environment is as dangerous as the zombies here. There are a lot of routes for you to seek out, including plummeting elevators which can be safely navigated if you are careful enough. This map is a ton of fun and brings together all of the elements that make the zombies mode great and adds in a new platforming aspect to the game.
New Zombie game mode: Turned
The zombie mode of the game is also receiving an entirely new game mode called Turned. This isn’t exactly an original concept, as almost every FPS has done it in some way. One player starts off as a human soldier while everyone else spawns as a zombie. The human will rack up points as he racks up kills of the undead but scoring a kill as a zombie will enable you and the human to swap places. You will need to become human in order to score points and rack up the highest total by the end of the round.
Yes, it is simply a modification of the typical “infection’-style game mode but it fits perfectly in the COD Zombies setting. Sadly, the limitations provided by the game keep this mode from seeing its true potential. First off, there can be only one human at a time, which seems odd. Secondly, the only map available for the mode is the Diner which is small and gets old really, really fast. Plus, add in the fact that zombies can see through walls, it becomes nearly impossible to hide out from the zombies. You pretty much have to simply park yourself in a corner and make your stand, which gets pretty old after a while. There are two mode variations available: shot gun and reverse gun game. This is about as deep as the variety here gets. Why couldn’t we just have full on infection or humans versus zombies akin to Left 4 Dead 2?
The Revolution pack is a solid addition and a good start to the Black Ops 2 DLC season. Three of the four multiplayer maps are excellent additions to the lineup and will freshen up multiplayer quite a bit. Grind in particular will easily become a favorite amongst the diehard players on the BLOPS2 scene. Die Rise is also a lot of fun and will add some longevity for fans of that mode but the new zombie mode isn’t nearly as interesting as it could be. If you are still playing the game, you should definitely pick this up but know that not all parts of the package are created equally.