After putting so much detail into the second map pack Escalation, can the developers at Treyarch top themselves again?
This third installment in the COD map pack family includes 4 new multiplayer maps; Silo, Hazard, Drive-In, Hangar and a new zombie map called Shangri-La. As with the previous map packs, no matter how you like to approach combat, you’re bound to find a map here that suits your style.
However, after playing several rounds, it’s hard not to notice the “Been here, Done that” feel of this particular DLC. The new maps are pretty similar to other stages offered in the game – a letdown for sure, considering how creative the team has been up to this point.
For instance, the map Silo is extremely similar to the pre-loaded maps that come with the game, Radiation and Launch. To a lesser extent, the map Hangar also suffers from the same dilemma. The map has a cool Area-51-like “you’re not supposed to see this” effect – with a blackbird jet (that you can fight on), random dead corpses inside of body bags, and a nuclear reactor with an apple as its core – however, players will still get a deja-vu feel (as if they’ve shot someone down in this arena before). While the maps are true to the 1960s aesthetic, which can undoubtedly lead to some duplication, the re-hashed layouts just come across as lazy – given other environments that could have been explored.
Despite the “sameness” mentioned above, Hazard offers unique visuals and an interesting layout. It’ll be a difficult map for players that like to camp in one specific spot – since Hazard is set up in an oval shape. The vast majority of the map is easily accessible by running in a complete circle, meaning that it is hard to block-off in one area and successfully keep your back covered.
For non-camper players, Hazard is easily enjoyable in looks and functionality. Aesthetically it is the most pleasing map to look at – considering the game is set in the wartime of the 60s. Players are literally fighting on a resort. For online fighter that like to run and gun, the open expanse offered at the golf course, in the middle of the field, will be perfect. Snipers will find a couple of high vantage points to hide in the shadows and take down anyone caught in the open.
Drive-In is another original offering. Run and gun players will find there is nothing stopping the here, with a variety of ancient and broken down objects, cover is plentiful. The map gameplay is somewhat reminiscent of Gears of War – since there is always an object nearby to duck behind. Snipes may find the map inadequate, since there’s only one real advantage point – which is behind the movie screen. Stealth players will have to duke it out with opposing enemies in order to claim and hold the spot. This may seem unfair, but it adds to the sadistic fun of trying to figure out how to take out the guy currently occupying the tower.
In the last map pack, Escalation, Treyarch went above and beyond with the zombie level by enlisting the help of George A. Romero, and the voices of B-movie actors such as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Danny Trejo, and Robert Englund. Sadly, that effort and amount of detail did not go into making the Shangri-La map. There aren’t even witty retorts and comments between the characters – offered in the Pentagon zombie map pack and in Call of the Dead (with the actors mentioned above). While there are comments between the characters, they’re substandard and add nothing to the experience – more like background noise.
The latest zombie map is also kind of bland. There is no real sense of progression: it’s the same defend one area for awhile – and keep the zombies at bay, repeat process. The map isn’t without treats though: female zombies, random pit-spikes (that can injure players at any moment), as well as a cool multiple step easter egg that allows players to travel back in time. However, while the extra perks are nice – they don’t make-up for the lack of effort.
Overall the Annihilation map pack is underwhelming. While two of the maps are genuinely unique and provide entertainment, the other two feel like new stages created with spare parts from prior maps. Given the cost, along with a lackluster zombie experience, it’s hard to recommend this map pack – especially over the two that came before it. If you’re looking to spend $15.00 (or 1200 MS points), I would highly recommend the last DLC offering (check out our Escalation map pack review). As for this one, unless you’re a die-hard Call of Duty fan (and buy all the maps anyway), it’s hard to recommend Annihilation when there is better DLC content available.
The Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation DLC is available now on Xbox Live – with other platforms to follow soon.