Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – Uprising DLC

Go ahead. You have my permission to hold me partially responsible for keeping the Treyarch guys knee-deep in pretzels and energy drinks. Lord help me, but I play Call of Duty Black Ops 2 nightly, for an hour or more, with a group of friends as dedicated as I. We play online against the world and we play in private matches against each other. That said, not a single one of us bought the Season Pass, so each of us has shelled out 15 bucks for each new map pack, and the latest, dubbed Uprising, is no exception.

But was it worth it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg2211LnfoM

Encore takes center stage, quite literally, as a medium-to-large scale skirmish map putting players in a thousand-seat stadium before a rock concert. On stage, back stage and all around the stadium exposes players to both close quarter and open venue combat, dripping with potential. Trouble is, it’s just potential. The level design fails, placing dozens of invisible walls and un-climbable boxes all over the map. It’s laid out to look as if show producers are setting up for a concert, so cherry pickers and equipment crowd the area, but players aren’t able to jump on top for better vantage points. Thankfully, you’re still able to jump on stage, but it’s a near travesty that you can’t even run through the seating areas of the stadium. It makes for a largely ho-hum, flat map for anything but Hardpoint or Domination game types.

Vertigo puts players at the top of a mega skyscraper in India. It’s an industrial building that seems to pay homage to the mega-corp OCP from RoboCop. Large interior lobby space and tight conference rooms are surrounded by precarious rooftop battles with very little to prevent players from falling hundreds of stories to a messy end. Vertigo offers a more satisfying match, especially in Deathmatch or GunGame, for players that like to keep moving. Once again however, it’s disappointing to see so many un-scaleable crates, boxes and air conditioning units, especially leading to even further elevated rooftops that cannot be utilized. It’s frustrating to find so many niche areas that would make this an excellent map for Capture the Flag or Domination only to look like an idiot trying to jump up to areas that look easily accessible.

Magma forces players to weave in and out of lava flows streaming through a decimated modern village area in Japan. It’s small enough for only 4 or 5 players and sports some great ambiance. The lava itself is easy enough to avoid, but players often find themselves backing into not-yet-cooled areas of molten rock that near instantly set them aflame. I quite liked this map, but once again, there is so much lost potential, it really brings down my opinion of it. It’s being heavily advertised featuring “for the first time, lava as a hazard in multiplayer”, but it really isn’t any more of a hazard than falling off a cliff in any of the other maps. There’s never much threat to stepping in the giant glowing rivers unless you’re playing while blindfolded. It surprises me that level designers didn’t take a queue from their earlier map, Hydro, and add some unpredictability to where the lava flows. Or perhaps add some random flaming rocks coming down from this violently erupting mountain in the background. At a bare minimum, there are plenty of places where small fire and lava puddles are scattered on the ground, but you can stand on them without being harmed.

Lastly, Studio is a tight cornered, stick and move type of map that I love. Most of my crew agrees that this one will easily find it’s way into our private skirmish rotation. Traversing a half dozen movie tropes, Studio is set on a Universal-style backlot, ranging from the wild west to Godzilla to medieval times and an alien invasion. There’s even an animatronic dinosaur to keep an eye out for. It won’t take long for veteran Black Ops 1 players to realize that Studio is an exact duplicate of Firing Range from the first game, just re-skinned with a far more interesting theme. I would have liked to have seen some improvements on the map, not just new wallpaper, like environmental hazards (t-rex chomping down for example) or expanding the map out a bit. That said, I’m happy with the way it turned out. Especially for party modes like GunGame and Sticks & Stones, Studio is perfect.

A new zombie challenge map has been added with this pack as well, Mob of the Dead, in which 4 Prohibition-era gangsters must do well to fight off hordes of undead prisoners in San Francisco’s infamous Alcatraz prison. It’s deserving of its own review, so I won’t go into it here, other than to say it’s impressive to get to play with the voices and likenesses of Michael Madsen, Joe Pantoliano, Chazz Palminteri and Ray Liotta.

15 bucks (1200 MS points) isn’t going to break anyone’s bank, but personally I feel just a little taken. The best new map also happens to be a remake from a title I already purchased. The others just didn’t quite meet with my expectations. It’s certainly not a complete ripooff, but Uprising could have been so much more.

Christopher Kirkman

Christopher is an old school nerd: designer, code monkey, writer, gamer and Star Wars geek. As owner and Editor-In-Chief of Media Geeks, he takes playing games and watching movies very seriously. You know, in between naps and watching TV.

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