(This DLC is an add-on to Call of Duty: Black Ops by Treyarch.)
Hey, it’s that time of year! No, it’s not time for a new Call of Duty game… but it is time for the first multi-player map pack that Treyarch has released for the latest iteration of the Call of Duty franchise – Black Ops. The “First Strike” pack contains 5 all-new maps, four for the standard multi-player modes of Black Ops, and one for the “Zombies” mode. Since there’s no other content for this review, I’ll go ahead and give you the multi-player play-by-play (if for some reason you need a review of a zombie mode map, I don’t know what to tell you)
Hey, it’s a zombie map! As you would expect, it has a lot of doors… I guess that doesn’t tell you much. This map has you climbing a missile silo. Like all zombie maps, it centers around team-work and cooperation. Don’t play it with your enemies.
This map is a (relatively) small battleground that is divided into two distinctive halves by the existence of a kind of ‘neutral zone’ across the middle. This zone, marked very clearly on your radar in red, is the home to multiple guard towers who will shower you with a pleasant hail of sentry gun bullets if you so much as set foot inside of it. The rest of the combat is, to a lesser or greater extent, defined by this dead zone at its centre. Although it initially seems like more long-ranged combat would be the result, you may find that most combatants are seeking ways around the dead zone in order to engage their foes, and that the map actually has a much more intimate feel than you might expect given its small size.
This map is the arctic site of some Nazi laboratory. It’s very small, and divided into two distinctive halves. The division is not nearly as clear as maps like Nuketown, but the presence of a bottomless chasm that divides the centrepoint of the map still leads to a limited number of routes from one side to another. It definitely feels like a map where a spawn lock could be effective. That having been said, a central bridge which connects the two halves of the map makes for a potentially brutally-contested “B” point for Domination and other balanced side game-types. Despite its small size and the relative open-ness of most of the map, Discovery is very much a 2-3 level map, and enemies will often be above or below you, so pay close attention!
This map is based on the Hong Kong escape level from the single player campaign, using many of the same terrain elements to create a multi-leveled brawl. This map is very small. In terms of physical size, it probably would rival most of the mid-sized maps, but because of the way the multiple levels and terrain intervene, it plays as small as any level in the game. You’ll often find that combat over the central portion of the map is the key to victory, and is defined by numerous level-changing bridges which provide access not only from rooftop to rooftop but also between the combat levels. Enemies can, and will, come from all sides on Kowloon, and it’s important that a prudent player stay careful throughout.
Another small map, actually, despite having several different distinct combat areas. Depending on your chosen game-type you’ll find yourself mostly embroiled in combat in one of the map’s main “zones’… which is to say, the hockey arena itself,. the area outside of the building, or between the rink and its surrounding structures. Spawn points, available cover, and the general feel, of this map change significantly from iteration to iteration. Like most of the best multi-purpose maps, the first time that you play Satdium you should find yourself wondering what it plays like in Death-Match, or Domination, or Demolition, or whatever you’re not playing. Out of the four maps, I personally think that Stadium is the most universally fun design, albeit with some potential for tiresome slug-fests over the same couple of areas of the map.
For X-Box Liver users, this game is going to run 1200 Microsoft Points (or roughly $15). For hard core Black Ops players the DLC is very much worth it, as it significantly expands the basic roster of maps that the game shipped with. Much like Modern Warfare 2 this DLC will not allow you to match-make on the new maps if you don’t own them, without forcing you to select an alternate play-list (Halo style). On the other hand, this method filters down the available pool of players based on the ownership of the DLC, so it probably evens out.
The Bottom Line
Is this DLC worth it? If you’re a serious Call of Duty multi-player mode player, then yes, it probably is. You’ll appreciate the additions to the game’s maps… and the new maps seem to have been founded with an understanding of what Black Ops really is; a game that features much more intimate combat than its immediate predecessor. You probably won’t feel any urgency to use your sniper rifle on most of these DLC maps (not to say that you can’t snipe, but merely that these have a feel more like Firing Range or Nuketown, and less like Array), but your SMG will probably get a workout.