Monday, January 31, 2011

Call of Duty: Black Ops First Strike DLC Review


The first DLC map pack for Black Ops is here and it’s great! Not only do you get four great new maps for the online component, but also a cool new map for Zombies to sink your teeth into. If you were at all querying whether or not to purchase this new map pack, you can rest assured that you’re getting your money’s worth.
Kowloon
This map pits you on the rooftops of Chinese city Kowloon. Plagued by rain and dark colours, this is one of the darkest maps in Black Ops. There’s definitely a sense that you’re running from building to building across rooftops, which seems to have been Treyarch’s intention. One of the most intriguing elements of this map's design is the unconventional route layout; there’s barely a straight and uncompromised path to be found, with movement from building to building normally involving a large jump across platforms. This makes combat a little bit more interesting, as you now also have to keep an eye out for small holes and gaps that you would otherwise expect to be there. Treyarch has done a great job of portraying the feeling of being on rooftops, thanks in part to the countless broken pathways and death drops.
Traveling from one point of the map to the other is made easy with the inclusion of a zip line, which improves speed but obviously makes you vulnerable to any enemies down below.  It's a neat little addition, especially if you have an enemy waiting for a carepackage in the open area below.


Stadium
Stadium is set in and around a US ice hockey rink, with a central location and a number of fantastic flanking points making it a worthy addition to the map list in Black Ops. This is not a map to take lightly though; killstreaks will be aplenty and ratios will be hurt, thanks in part to the maps numerous dead ends and maze-like central corridor. The action is quick and intense on this map – think Terminal in Modern Warfare 2 – and with a number of decent vantage points, as well as the opportunity to flank your enemy at will, Stadium may very well propel up the ranks as the best map in Black Ops.


As Stadium isn’t overly large, snipers might have a tough time being successful on it. However, there are a number of different sniper locations, and the distance between vantage points shouldn’t be that challenging even for the most novice of snipers.

Discovery
Discover looks a lot like Array and can be played in much the same way. Visually, it has a bit more personality than the aforementioned – it acts as a deserted Nazi research facility – and the trip points centered on the middle of the map make for some tight and intense action. Flanking is no stranger to this map thanks to the design; moving around the outside of the map before moving in on respawning enemies in the central corridor acts as an important tactic during combat.
A large chasm in the middle of the map acts as a massive divider, but can be quite the hazard; pathways can be hard to spot, and gaps and holes in the cliff can sometimes lead to a involentary suicide. However, that doesn’t degrade the fact that Discovery is a very well-designed map. Furthermore, the main walkway in the middle of the map can be destroyed, which changes up the gameplay and makes for some interesting combat around the area. The numerous choke points play a very important role on this map, and so should be the number one priority if you’re hoping to succeed when playing it.

Berlin Wall
The largest and most memorable map included in the DLC, Berlin Wall is a Cold War-inspired gem, driven by dark visuals and a number of Berlin's most famous icons. The most impressive thing about this map is that certain areas, namely Checkpoint Charlie, are re-created in such a fashion so as to have an actual affect on the gameplay, just as they would have affected a battle so many years ago. No Man’s Land acts as a sinister location and helps round out a visually impressive and enjoyable map.
Both West Berlin and East Berlin are represented by upper class and industrialist architecture respectively, which gives the map personality and substance. There is a good balance between outside and inside areas, with the experience playing a lot like the Havana map. A lot of the action will be up close and personal, while snipers have plenty of great vantage points to set up shop in. Berlin Wall is a map for every type of Black Ops gamer, no matter what your style.

The Final Verdict
The casual Black Ops gamer can’t go wrong with First Strike, a fantastic map pack that offers four well-designed maps to expand the multiplayer component. Each map has a nice balance between inside and outside areas, choke and vantage points, as well as some environmental hazards that change up the gameplay.

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