COD: Black Ops: Escalation Map Pack – Review

To ensure that Black Ops isn’t fading from your memory just yet, Treyarch have returned with the games second map pack which comes with four new competitive multiplayer and a Zombies map to boot, but this lovely package comes at big cost; a whopping 1200MSP to be exact. Worth it?

The four competitive maps on offer here differ from the previous pack, as the new maps are pretty big by Black Ops standards and have more complexity than we usually see, so there is certainly a unique side to this pack, and as you may expect Treyarch have proved again that they can make some great levels.

The first map on offer is Convoy which takes place around a destroyed highway. The map itself tells a tale as you see the bridge blown out leaving a gaping hole for players to jump down and a wrecked convoy litters the landscape. The result is the best map out of the pack. It balances complexity and size well, offering plenty of different routes for flanking, sniping positions and choke zones in which to massacre the poor enemy.
In the centre of the map the wide highway makes for a great space to have large-scale shootouts, while the sides offer a more thoughtful approach with plenty of cover and opportunities to flank and eliminate the foe, and definitely favour closer combat.
By far its biggest strength is the fantastic flow and rhythm to the map design. Even on your first run around the map you’ll find yourself naturally flowing from one area to the next.
It should also be said that Convoy brings nice dash of color to the otherwise bleak maps that COD usually offers.
Convoy is one of Treyarchs best map attempts to date.

Hotel is the next map offering, and as the name suggests it takes place in a Hotel. Never would have guessed, right?
Of all the maps Hotel brings the most color to the COD world as you’ll pass slot machines, swimming pools and other lovely attractions.
In terms of gameplay Hotel is again a fairly big map that offers a nice balance of routes through the level. It’s geared more toward Assault rifles, but still offers  enough for other players to take advantage of with Shotguns and SMGs. Snipers won’t be the biggest fan of this map, but getting up to the higher floors of the Hotel does allow for some good lines of sight to be acquired, but they are limited.
Hotel also brings in elevators to the mix, but these don’t really add much to the overall gameplay.
Again a story is told via the map itself. Venture into the lower levels and you’ll discover a vault with the wall blown in and money floating around. It doesn’t take a genius to see what happened here.
It’s a fine map with hectic battles taking place in the centre and tighter fights around the outside.

Next up is Zoo, and as you may have already guessed it has you shooting people in the face while watching the pretty tigers. Well, not really as Zoo features no actual animals which puts a complete downer on my dream of having environmental hazards which see’s Monkeys throttling your opponent to death.
What you do get is another nicely made map, but in the pack this one just sits as “decent”.
Again, it’s pretty big so you’ll occasionally go a while without actually seeing anyone to shoot, but once you do all hell will break loose.
While Zoo is a fairly large map it does favour medium range combat more than the other maps on offer, as well as closer range affairs as well. Again, there is something for the other players though, including a few sniping spots and longer lines of sight. It has a nice flow to proceedings, and the monorail that runs around the outside of the map offers a high-risk position above the field of battle.
All in all, a good map, but not one of the best.

Stockpile rounds out the pack and is by far the worst of the offerings. It’s not a bad map, but it just never distinguishes itself or stands out. Again there is a mixture of gameplay styles in this map, but snipers will have a better time with stockpile as there is plenty of places to hole up with lines of sight right down the street. There are a few area’s that lend themselves to closer fighting though.
The big problem comes in the maps general flow. It feels clunky, and unlike Convoy your first run through – and probably second, third and fourth – won’t feel natural, but rather like you’re wandering around the desert with no stars, compass or map to guide you.
In visual terms it’s a bleak map covered in snow and featuring plenty of grey. The result is a pretty dull map to look at.

Of course, a big draw of this pack comes in the form of a brand new Zombies level called Call of the Dead, and it’s the biggest, most complex Zombies map released. The premise is that Zombie film legend George. A. Romero is filming a new flick with some rather big names that Treyarch brought in: Sarah Michelle Geller, Danny Trejo, Robert Englund,  and Micheal Rooker. They’re all introduced in a fantastic opening cutscene which depicts Geller using spinning kicks and Englund using a pitchfork. Sadly, outside of the opening Treyarch fail to use these characters to their fullest with them getting little in the way of lines and no unique gameplay twists. However, this is somewhat balanced out by the awesomness of Romero as a Zombie who arises in a kickass explosion in a lake before hunting your ass down. He wields a camera as a weapon, and if you shoot him he’ll suddenly start moving at great pace with the only way to slow him down being to get him back into the cold waters of the lake.
Call of the Dead is also a huge map by Zombie standards, and by that token has become a haven for snipers along with the usual gameplay styles. But don’t worry as there is a few ziplines to help you get around this vast space as well.
Along with the size they’ve also thrown in some new things like a weapon that turns zombies into humans.
It may not completely revolutionize Zombies, but it offers the best Zombies experience that we’ve seen yet.

So, we come again to the big flaw of the pack: 1200MSP. That’s a lot of money, and considering you can get a full game like Prejudice for such money it can be hard to call it value for money. Sure, the maps are great, but again it feels like the Zombie map should have been sold separately, because if you play competitive only then this pack becomes even less value for money, and vice versa.
At the end of the day this pack offers some great maps, but I can only recommend it if you play Black Ops on a constant basis, otherwise this is just too expensive for those that just play every now and then.

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