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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Uprising DLC Review

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Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision
Genre: First-person shooter 
Release Date: 16.04.2013 (Xbox 360) 16.05.2013 (PC & PS3)
Official Site: http://www.callofduty.com/blackops2/

 

Black Ops 2 gets another dlc expansion in the shape of Uprising. As we’ve come to expect from CoD dlc, the pack comes with 4 maps for the competitive multiplayer, and a new chapter for the Zombies portion of Black Ops 2. Does Uprising’s content add enough to the game for players to invest?

The four new multiplayer maps; Studio, Encore, Vertigo, and Magma, are all mostly well designed to suit a variety of play styles. All of them have a good blend of tight quarters, long lines of sight for sniping, open battlegrounds, and an appropriate level of verticality. They all look great, but offer varying degrees of fun.

Studio will be instantly recognizable to any fan of the original Black Ops as it is a re-imagined version of one of the most popular maps: Firing Range. While the map is virtually identical to the original in terms of layout and how it plays, it has gotten quite a face-lift. Exchanging the military training grounds setting for a Hollywood backlot, complete with medieval, sci-fi, western, and giant monster movie inspired sets with plenty of cool props littering the battlefield. The new look makes it a lot of fun to play, and the map design still holds up, making it quite evident why Treyarch chose to bring back this arena.

Encore continues the “entertainment” theme, set in an amphitheatre along the Thames River where you deal death on the open-air rock concert setting. The arena is semi-circular in shape, and offers various environments suited for different styles of play. The stage itself can prove a powerful position for a well-coordinated team to hold down and cover the flanks. The backstage area and cramped corridors lying underneath the stage make for intense close-quarters engagements, while the more open area in the arena centre, and the courtyards facing the river will appeal to mid-long range aficionados.

Vertigo, as the name implies, is set high above the city streets atop a grand Mumbai skyscraper. Out of the bunch it is maybe the most typical and traditional CoD map, reminiscent of Overwatch from MW3 and Highrise from MW2. However, while the flow of the action between the open exteriors and the cramped interiors, Vertigo does stand out with plenty of breakable windows that players can shoot out and attempt death-defying leaps for tactical shortcuts. Just don’t look down!

Last, but not least there’s Magma. It might be the most unconventional map found in Uprising. Set in a volcano/earthquake ridden Japanese town, it foregoes the typical Call of Duty map conventions in favor of a map that seems a little bit lost as a result. That’s not to say that it is a weak map, but it sure does take some getting used to, with many dead ends, and routes that require a bit of climbing and dropping down. Magma is however, like the rest of the maps in Uprising, a very aesthetically pleasing map. It’s got a sunken subway car where danger can loom around every tight corner, a trashed karaoke bar, some shops that offer a bit of verticality in shape of an upper floor, and yes; as the title suggests there’s lava. The lava feels like somewhat of a novelty, but it still adds some variety to the typical CoD environmental hazard.

Of course no Black Ops dlc is complete without a new trial by the undead in Zombies. The latest addition is “Mob of the Dead” where four gangster convicts are planning their escape from Alcatraz as the undead show up. Each character is voiced by veteran mobster actors; Michael Madsen, Ray Liotta, Chazz Palminteri, and Joe Pantoliano. The “story” is as vague as ever, and the characters are about as deep as a shallow grave. Nevertheless, the cast still manages to get some chuckles out of you as they deliver one-liners cheesier than a margherita pizza, and do their best to commentate on all the nonsense around them.

Zombies continues to tweak the experience, and will now more than ever, undoubtedly appeal mostly to hardened Zombies vetereans. The goal is to get to the roof and escape via plane. Getting there will take a tremendous amount of trial and error in order to figure out where all the different parts, switches, power-ups, and special weapons are located. As always, getting anywhere past the first few waves will require a great deal of coordination and team-work, and any weak link in the group will bring the entire team down. However, it is extremely rewarding when you do make it a little bit further than you have before, still - the effort and limited payoff certainly won’t appeal to everyone.

There are a few new additions to the Zombies bag of tricks. Most notable is the new “Afterlife” mechanic. When you die, you get one second chance, and come back as an electrified spirit that can zap the undead hordes, or power inactive machines. In this state you are invulnerable, making it useful for helping out the rest of your team if they’re being overrun, before you return to your body at the end of the round. The downside is that no zombies killed in the afterlife state nets you any points, which is unfortunate as you need points to open new areas, acquire better weapons, and do just about anything. It’s a clever mechanic that makes you think twice as you weigh the need to survive vs the need to progress.

There are a bunch of things to discover, new weapons to craft, and the level is well designed with a really cool setting. The problem is that only the very skilled will ever get to see all that Mob of the Dead has to offer. The objectives and where to go to achieve them is as vague as ever. Again, this latest zombie offering is a treat for the die-hard Zombies fans, but as a co-op experience for the less invested it doesn’t offer much past the novelty of the all-star star cast.

As a whole - “novel” is a pretty fitting description for Uprising’s content. These aren’t the best Call of Duty maps that you’ll ever see. It’s rather the novelty elements and cool aesthetics that are the main attractions, rather than their designs. Still, Uprising adds a good dose of fun to Black Ops 2, and it is recommended to any big CoD fan (that have likely already gotten it), but for others; you might want to try the maps out at a friend’s house before answering Uprising’s Call of Duty.       

We liked The cool visual design of the maps, Mob of the Dead cast & sense of fun

We disliked Zombies is more of the same to everyone but the very skilled, a bit too much focus on novelty & no new weapon like in the previous dlc pack.

 

Ingólfur Ólafsson

Managing Editor.

 

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