Review

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Vengeance map pack

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The third downloadable contect pack (of four) for Black Ops 2, Vengeance, features four new multiplayer maps (Cove, Rush, Uplink, and Detour), a new Zombies map (Buried), and also the return of the Ray Gun as Ray Gun Mark II (now available for all the Zombies maps in Black Ops 2).

Cove is a small tropical island map surrounded by the vast deep blue sea, restricting the gameplay to a reasonably small and symmetrical area. Cove is generally well presented, looking colourful and reminiscent of a smuggler’s secret tropical hideout, and the map can be broken down into the ‘mainland’ central areas and the ‘outlying’ beach area. The mainland consists of lush green tropical foliage and plenty of shadows and rocks which serve as vantage points, and obstacles. The beach area is likewise littered with rocks but is ominously lit on places to hide.

Across the island are numerous open areas interspersed with sections of cover and tight paths which offer the perfect ambush opportunity or chokepoints on team-based games. Cove provides numerous paths for reaching objectives in objective-based modes which makes it very difficult to establish a strong defensive perimeter which favours short-range melees while also ensuring sufficient action is never far away. Sniping is a real challenge on Cove since the paths are often winding behind cover and line-of-sight is up to medium-range at best. Cove is certainly going to be favoured for its team-based objective modes and in standard deathmatch modes the plane wreck near the middle of the map will prove to be a popular hunting ground. A fast-paced map with a colourful distraction but probably the second weakest in the collection.

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Rush is the black sheep map of the pack, being a painfully strange, large hybrid of indoor and outdoor paintball arenas. The indoor portions of Rush feature more of the hectic close-quarters engagements that are popular amongst those paintballers armed with thousands of rounds and their only mode of firing is full auto. There’s very little room to maneuver in the inflatable bag-riddled indoors and it’s usually a case of the survivor being whomever gets off the first shot, no matter how well placed the shot is. The outdoor sections of Rush feature tight corners, a few ramps to give brief vantage points, and a maze of short dashes.

Some may feel Cove suffers from too many alternate paths and routes but Rush takes this problem to a new level with the obvious lack of direction in the design of the map and the often roundabout paths that will separate the hunter from their prey. The high fatality indoor sections do not inspire people to want to go head-to-head since almost all skill is out the window and a trigger happy shotgunner will fare just as well as an eagle-eyed assault gunner. Combatants will find it very difficult to decide whether it’s better to be in the often confusing outdoor maze or inside the room of doom. Rush is so quirky that gamers will either love it or absolutely hate it – there’s no middle ground with this one. For me, this is the least appealing map of the pack.

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Unlike Rush, Detour is arguably the most exciting. Taking place on a severely damaged suspension bridge in what appears to be a near-future New York City, the map is strewn with debris, cavities in the road, and numerous dormant cars to set up enough carnage to make even Godzilla’s romp through New York City look like a diplomatic visit. Although a bridge is linear by design, the random placement of holes in the road, abandoned cars, and piles of debris makes Rush into a more strategic map than first meets the eye.

The primary paths of the main carriageway are on the sides, or along the middle, but there are plenty of mini paths to take along these main courses that add some variety and strategy. The bridge is multi-layered giving combatants access to underside tunnels and precariously balanced suspension wires (which can also serve as an open path if you’re foolhardy enough to attempt them). Despite Detour’s complex layout, the map is by far the most rewarding for skirmishes and intense firefights, lending itself to both tight close-quarter combat as well as long-range sniping or pot-luck engagements. A nice addition to the already erratic layout is the occasional floor cavity that actually turns out to be a complete drop to the ocean below – everyone had better watch their step on this one!

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Uplink is a remake of an old classic Black Ops map, Summit. This time around Uplink is set in a mountain top satellite uplink facility and is competing for my favorite map of the pack. Carrying an atmospheric ambience thanks to the gloomy weather and rain, Uplink is certain to develop a strong following, especially amongst fans of the original Summit. Uplink features a layout akin to Shaka’s Bull Horn formation, allowing players to outflank their opponents via the precarious mountain top edges or going for a full frontal assault up the middle.

The balance of gameplay carries well throughout the different game modes and Uplink has managed to keep a good mix of indoor and outdoor combat, with the former not being too claustrophobic, allowing for some well executed indoor combat without penalising longer-range tactical weaponry in the tighter confines. The rain mood is a great touch but it isn’t as ‘in your face’ as I would have hoped, meaning unless you’re looking for it, you probably won’t really notice it. A classic map with some nice touches – a strong contender for map of the pack.

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If the only reason you bought Call of Duty Black Ops was for the Zombies mode, I won’t judge you, because I’m as much a fan of the Zombies mode as I am of the multiplayer. Included in the Vengeance pack is Buried, which is my first time playing with the ‘Left 4 Dead’ playable characters (if you haven’t played them yet, they’re not the dinkum Left 4 Dead characters but they do bear a strong resemblance). Buried is set in an old run-down and abandoned mining town from the Old West days and takes place over a series of layers.

The beginning is the closest experience I’ve had to Left 4 Dead in the Call of Duty Zombies mode with the four characters fighting off the hordes from the top of a modern day mining shaft. After some time, or through some poor movement, you’ll descend a disused shaft and into a traditional mine level complete with dubious rope bridges and unstable footing.

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Proceeding further down, players will eventually arrive in the old abandoned mining town where the action really starts to feel like zombies in the Old West. Complete with a saloon, bank, jail, and even gun shop (heaven for zombie survivalists), Buried sets up a well-balanced map with the right amount of open areas and tight and stressful chokepoints while also introducing a new feature to the Zombies stable. Inside the jail is a friendly NPC, Leroy, who can be unleashed to help fight off the zombie hordes or to break down barricades – and all the poor soul wants is some booze and candy for his efforts!

The overall transition from a modern to a Western theme, the underground lighting, and just the general mood of the ghost-town is executed very effectively and Buried brings some new features to the Zombies mode to make it a crowd favorite…but I’m neglecting to mention one more add-on to the Zombies mode: the Ray Gun Mark II, an upgraded ray gun that now fires in three round bursts with the ability to penetrate through multiple zombies. Through the map pack, this little handheld deliverer of undead justice is available in all Black Ops 2 Zombies maps.

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If you are not interested in zombies at all, Detour will offer a great deal of fun for both deathmatch and objective based gameplay while Uplink is also a strong contender for the best map released in the pack (since it is a remake of an old classic, I give the honours to Detour because it’s entirely new). Chaos and frenetic seesawing of team advantage is guaranteed in Cove which is also bound to be a multiplayer classic but the same cannot be said for Rush, which is the weakest of the maps on offer in this pack.

If you’re into zombies, Buried provides a fresh take on the Call of Duty Zombies mode and will give zombies fans many hours of fun trying out different strategies to survive for as long as possible – the Old West theme is relatively new in terms of zombie offerings and is going to be a fresh take for many. For diehard fans of Call of Duty, the asking price of 1200 Microsoft Points is very reasonable considering the amount of game time avid fans of Call of Duty multiplayer will derive from the majority of maps included in this pack but for a casual Call of Duty or zombies fan, there’s not enough variety here to warrant the high price.

The Good: Old West zombies will appease zombies fans’ cravings; the Map Pack hits three out of four successes for classic Call of Duty.

The Bad: Not good value for casual Call of Duty fans; Rush is out of place in this collection.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Vengeance map pack was reviewed on the Xbox 360.


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