Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Apocalypse DLC Review
This week Treyarch have dropped Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Apocalypse, the last of their downloadable map packs for this title. Once again we have four new maps and a new zombie mode, and once again they’ve made more fuss over it than there’s been over the birth of William and Kate’s sprog. It’s an apt metaphor; both involve too much publicity, a lot of blood being spilled, and angry screaming. This first review is going to focus on the four new maps – we’ll have a separate review of the new Origins Zombie mode later.
Out of the four new maps the one I’m most anxious to talk about is of course Takeoff. It’s a re-skinned version of Stadium (from Black Ops 1) where instead of a hockey rink, there’s a space shuttle. Because why the hell not? Unfortunately I don’t have many nice things to say about Takeoff, despite its seemingly scientific allure. I’m not going to spend this review raging about how scientifically terrible this map is (who the hell puts a real freaking space shuttle that close to a gift shop?!), as there are far more obvious issues with this map.
Firstly, the re-skin is just too much. Its loud, obnoxious colours suit neither a battle field nor a space-launch venue. Not only did I find them visually irritating, but something about the decorations seems to hamper the clarity of the map’s lines of sight. It all feels too busy, with no discernible sense of flow. Unlike the previous reskins, Uplink and Studio, Takeoff is tangibly worse than its predecessor. Expect many a frustrating encounter as a bullet hits you from seemingly nowhere, the perpetrator lost in a sea of over-decorated nonsense.
Takeoff typifies what’s starting to become tiresome about Treyarch Maps: they’re all far too sugary. They’re like the Epic Meal Time of maps. “You like burgers? Well how about a two-tonne burger made of 250,000 bacon strips, 9 burgers, and a firework in the middle?” It’s become the same with Treyarch maps: “Oh, so you like interesting maps? Well how about a battle in a futuristic Japanese village – UNDER A VOLCANO! ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!” As I rub the residual spittle from my face, I look Treyarch calmly in the eye and I say,” No, I preferred CoD 4, when maps weren’t designed by a team of fourteen-year-olds with ADHD on a medical drip composed of pure Sunny Delight.”
Wow, that rant sure lasted a while. OK, on to the next map: Dig. I’ll counteract my tsunami of negativity with a playful splash of positive thinking: this map is actually pretty good. First reason why: It’s the opposite of what I’ve just described – a sensible map where you can focus on actually feeling like you’re in real, exciting combat. Secondly, it’s got a very distinctive, refreshing layout. The entire map is very open from above, with little other than walls of varying height to provide cover and lanes to move along.
This makes for a lot of mixed range combat; climb on top of said walls and you can snipe across most of the map. But, of course, you’ll be an easier target than Steven Hawking in a dodge-ball tournament. Alternatively you can stalk your way through the lanes, cornering carefully and picking people off at medium to close range. Either way, Dig rewards the thoughtful player who treads carefully – and it certainly rewards aerial kill streaks – there’s virtually nowhere to hide.
Frost will immediately remind you of Berlin from the original Black Ops – the layout and icy visuals bear an uncanny resemblance. To be fair, though, it does play much better than Berlin ever did. It’s a frozen section of Amsterdam’s river with many a lush interior to explore. From the cheese shop to the bridge huts, every room seems to provide its own tactical opportunities, each well placed with a specific vantage point in mind. It’s an assault rifle paradise for the most part, with a lot of medium range open spaces and plenty of cover for wannabe SWAT teams.
There’s also a central bridge that offers what seems to be the map’s longest open space. Cue the obligatory sniper camp sites. It’s hard to feel lost on this map thanks to what seems like some of the most awkwardly-forced map-symmetry I have ever seen. There are two vans on the main street positioned at opposing angles so identically it’s funny. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on what’s more important to you: a map that looks realistic or is easy to play.
Finally we come onto the forgettable Pod. After all the hype about how unique these pods would be, getting hands on with them was a bigger disappointment than Rihanna’s acting career. They’re just forgettable little hut rooms in a generic overgrown setting. This map is neither good nor bad, it’s just… boring. To the point where I’ve played a good few hours on it, and am yet to form any strong opinion.
Apocalypse’s multiplayer maps are probably the most disappointing of the entire Black Ops 2 ‘season’. Partly because the formulaic nature of them has finally grown tiresome, but also because the previous packs were generally very good. The big question is, will the new zombie Origins mode be enough to resurrect this decaying corpse of content?