It has been some three months since the release of First Strike, the first map pack offering for the hugely successful Call of Duty: Black Ops. Now available on all consoles and having been played countless times, Treyarch thought it was high time to swoop in and introduce a new addition to the Black Ops family.
Released on May 3rd, this new map pack, titled Escalation, features four maps — Zoo, Stockpile, Convoy, and Hotel — along with yet another zombie map only this time with a little bit more oomph put into it. Like First Strike before it, Extraction features a wide array of locales, each of which are meant to cater to the various styles of multiplayer gamer.
Still, in the face of a less than agreeable price tag, the question remains: does Escalation give Black Ops the same jolt in the arm that First strike did or should this mission be aborted before it begins? Read on to find out.
First and foremost, it’s best to put a disclaimer out there that if you don’t enjoy Black Ops and all that comes with it — killstreaks, campers, what have you — then Escalation is obviously not going to be for you. These maps don’t bring with them new mechanics, only interesting changes of scenery meant to keep an enjoyable experience going.
Now, if you do happen to enjoy Black Ops and you were a fan of First Strike then you will most assuredly enjoy Escalation. While Escalation doesn’t offer the same “gimmicks” that some of First Strike’s maps did — the zip lines of Kowloon, the destructible ice bridges of Discovery, and the “no man’s land” in Berlin Wall — Escalation more than makes up for those assumed shortcomings with much more compelling landscapes to explore.
Escalation takes a greater leap away from the familiar venues of the Black Ops campaign with some truly unique environments, at least as far as this particular COD entry is concerned. Hotel and Zoo are the two major standouts with each of them displaying a ton of eye candy around each corner. Zoo will probably take precedence as the fan favorite because of its interesting milieu, but Hotel has so much detail put into it that many will be noticing clever touches well into their 100th match.
Not to say that either Convoy or Stockpile are less interesting, they just feel more familiar than Hotel or Zoo. The war torn highway of Convoy offers a ton of opportunities for long-range combat while Stockpile is a bit more balanced. Each map, along with Hotel and Zoo, offer detailed play areas and plenty of chances to get into long and close range skirmishes.
The main highlight of each map is how they attempt to accommodate a wide variety of multiplayer gamer types. Snipers are still the odd man out for this map pack, but that isn’t to say sniping opportunities will not present themselves, especially on Convoy. Combat continues to remain fast-paced and locations are littered with enough cover to keep those pesky gunships and chopper gunners at bay.
The only real downside to the pack will be learning each map and discovering how best to approach the specific areas contained within them. Hotel and Zoo might be the most visually appealing, but so far they have also offered some real nasty places for teams to hole up and do serious damage. Stockpile is solid, but it feels like many of the maps that have come through Call of Duty before. There are small gripes to be had with the each of the maps, but once a player gets into a fairly even match those all but disappear.