This week, for the maiden voyage of Retroid Prime Time, I discuss favourite game past and present and what I think makes the perfect favourite game. Come join me for the start of this new adventure.
Is the Black Ops II Revolution DLC Worth Your Money?
With Revolution, the fine folks at Treyarch released the first of four DLC packs for Call of Duty: Black Ops II on Tuesday as a timed exclusive for the Xbox 360.
For a modest $15, the pack includes four new multiplayer maps, a brand new DLC weapon (the series’ first), a new map for zombies, and an all-new zombies mode.
And from the footage we’ve seen, it looks nothing if not promising. But is it worth buying?
The short answer? Yes…for the most part.
The long answer, of course, is why.
FOUR NEW MULTIPLAYER MAPS
Treyarch started really testing the boundaries of the Call of Duty formula with Black Ops II with conventions like branching story paths, a near-futuristic setting, and completely customizable loadouts for multiplayer, making for one of the more innovative entries to be seen in the series in years.
And with Revolution, it’s apparent that the studio is still trying to mix things up by experimenting with new ideas and mechanics in order to keep multiplayer feeling fresh.
There’s a commendable amount of painstaking detail poured into the construction of these maps, and it shows. Each map has its own distinct personality and layout, allowing it to appeal to a wide variety of players.
In Hydro, players take each other on in a small map centered around a massive dam. The dam is one of the few elements introduced in these maps that suggests Treyarch is playing around with environmental hazards in their multiplayer maps. Every so often, the dam floods, and any players caught in the water surge are instantly killed. It makes for a tense area, especially considering the fact that the map is constructed to have a focus on tight close-quarters combat, and the water itself is a high-traffic zone where you’re more than likely to encounter another player whenever running through.
Those who like frantic battles and are quick with the trigger finger will find Hyrdo to be a great map. It’s small, but it forces players to be a bit more active, making for an adrenaline rush when you’re locked in a deathmatch with several other players.
There’s a distinct flavor to each of the multiplayer maps in the Revolution DLC, and no map exemplifies that better than that of Grind, a level based in a Venice Beach skate park. Sure, it’s a bit jarring to see a bunch of soldiers running around and treating a skate park as a battle ground, but suspension of disbelief allows it to turn into an interesting experiment for multiplayer.
Grind isn’t the most in-depth or well-designed of the Call of Duty maps, but it certainly is creative. Part visually arresting and part challenging, the map features many nooks and crannies where campers will feel right at home and has multiple ways to move throughout a level. It’s a bit flat, but the interesting curves of half pipes lend a new feel to the otherwise jagged and predictable environments of old Call of Duty games.
Probably the most challenging and well-designed of the lot is Mirage, a level set in a ruined Chinese hotel in the Gobi Desert. Mirage’s highly detailed environments allow players many different options to take cover and offers a good mix of run-and-gun friendly level design and vantage points for the savviest of snipers. It’s a challenging map that will take multiple playthroughs to fully memorize and understand in order to be mastered.
Downhill takes players out of the desert and drops them in a ski resort, introducing another environmental hazard by way of ski lift gondolas cutting through the middle of the level that spell death for anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in their path.
Outside of the gondolas, however, Downhill manages to be a well-designed medium-sized map coupling beautiful and sprawling environments with some tight close-quarter spaces, offering multiple options to gamers of all play styles.
The maps aren’t necessarily the most revolutionary or innovative entries in the series’ history, but they are no less fun and offer a handful of interesting environments that any true Call of Duty fans will enjoy spending time in. Treyarch invested an impressive amount of detail in each map, and it shows.
A half-assault rifle, half-SMG hybrid, the Peacekeeper is the first-ever DLC weapon to be sold in Call of Duty DLC. But despite fan’s fears, the gun is not a game breaker and does not suffer from any balancing issues. It’s a powerful weapon with a rapid rate of fire, but it isn’t necessarily the gun that will see you abandoning all of your other loadouts in favor of wielding it.
Just like any other gun in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, you’ll be able to earn attachments that enhance the weapon, including sights and extended barrels to put in your loadout. Attachments help by way of customization, but again, they don’t make the weapon anything super-powered or incredible. Rather, it’s a great weapon for those who are relatively new to Black Ops II‘s multiplayer modes or don’t necessarily spend enough time with the game in order to unlock the best it has to offer. It’s a satisfying weapon to use, but players can rest their fears about being owned by Peacekeeper-toting fiends in the multiplayer sphere.
Revolution also throws some love toward the surprise darling of Treyarch’s Black Ops franchise: the Zombies mode.
The first bit of add-on content for Zombies is Die Rise, an all-new map that allows players to take on hordes of the undead in a collapsing skyscraper.
The dynamic is interesting enough, and the same attention to detail found in the DLC’s four multiplayer maps is felt here as well. But looks only get you so far, and there’s not much more by way of redeeming quality when it comes to Die Rise.
The first thing you’ll notice is its strangely varied environment that will both intrigue and frustrate you. Once the map opens up, it can become nearly impossible to find downed players in need of revival thanks to a confusing and twisted level design, zombies begin to pour in mercilessly within the first few rounds, spawn points often see zombies dropping from areas that can’t be blocked off, and a severe scarcity of weapons will see you using the pistol more often than not, which is about as effective as an air soft rifle after round three. While the map is interesting and offers a new set of challenges for zombie fans, it feels a little too directionless for its own good and makes for some frustrating gameplay.
The other new element introduced into Zombies is Turned, a new mode that pits three against one as three players take the role of zombies hunting a lone human survivor. Whoever manages to last the longest as the human is the winner, making for a unique game mode with a lot of potential.
Turned is interesting enough and has a completely different feel than the standard Zombies mode in Black Ops II, but it still manages to feel half-realized in its execution. You’re only allowed to play the mode in the tiny Diner map, and one-shot kills and instant respawning makes for a jarring and somewhat disjointed feel that will continuously leave you scrambling to remember where you are as you hunt down the lone human player.
Turned might be a refreshing mode once it’s had a bit more time to be fleshed out, but in the meantime, it feels a bit like half an idea seriously lacking refinement. Still, it’s refreshing to play something new and mix up the formula a bit.
The Black Ops II Revolution DLC isn’t anything that will go down in gaming history, but it’s no less fun and contains an interesting set of ideas. The maps and weapon certainly take the cake as the highlights of the pack, with the zombies content trailing behind in a somewhat lumbering fashion like the creatures the mode is named after. Still, with more DLC on the way, I’m anxious to see what the developer has in mind for future installments, as there’s a lot of room to take some of these ideas and turn them into something fantastic.
If you’re a fan of Black Ops II, own an Xbox 360, and have been waiting for some new maps to get in and try, now’s the chance. You won’t regret it.