Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation DLC Impressions
New multiplayer maps, including a new Zombie map. Oh, and zombie monkeys!
A few months ago, we reported that 1 in 8 households own a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops. Can you imagine the staggering number of headshots amassed worldwide? Activision and Treyarch are clearly aware of this astonishing statistic as they continue to ride out the phenomenal success of the title by dropping yet another expansion pack on Xbox Live: Annihilation. As an incentive to pick this up as soon as possible, Activision and Treyarch are even hosting a Double XP weekend for you trigger-happy folks, starting on July 1st. Whether you hate it or love it, Call of Duty: Black Ops is here to stay, especially now with its renewed aggression on the multiplayer front.
Similar to the Escalation map pack that was released just this past May, Annihilation offers four new multiplayer maps and a new Zombie map called Shangri-La. Being a huge fan of the undead-slaying survival mode myself, I immediately took to the new Zombie map like white on rice and immersed myself in the remains of a once glorious and hospitable civilization. Shangri-La is a refreshing departure from the dreary, dark environments of the previous Zombie maps.
In Shangri-La, I stumbled upon motion-sensitive traps, underground tunnels, a run-down village, and a scenic cove. Shangri-La constantly foils your plans to survive with tar pits that impede your movement, a myriad of traps, and -- let's not forget -- the legion of blood-thirsty undead nipping at your heels.
Prepare to see new foes join the fray, with napalm zombies (these zombies are engulfed in flames; you really can't miss them), female zombies, Shriekers, and the best part of all: zombie monkeys! Fans of Zombie mode will no doubt be thrilled to find all of this and all its secrets in Shangri-La.
For the Call of Duty acolytes that are keen on popping the heads off of friends and strangers online, I'm happy to report that these new maps are a joy to play in. The maps in the core game were known to be a little unfriendly to snipers, but these new maps allow sharpshooters to ply their trade. There are plenty of wide-open areas and perches for skilled marksmen to draw a bead on unsuspecting players.
The first sniping map of note is Hazard, which is a long golf course set in the crumbling remains of a resort. The entire middle part of the map quickly devolves into a no-man's land, because any player wandering into that grassy course gets shot down within moments by hidden assailants. Because of this dynamic, most of the action gets pushed to the sides of the battlefield. On modes like Domination, this map can get especially trying (but exciting) for teams pushing to win.
One of my favorite maps, Drive-In, caters to fans of close-quarters combat, showering them with tons of tight spaces to pop out of and nooks and crannies to run through. Inspired by the Nuketown map, Drive-In thrives on action and, in some ways, the element of surprise. Be it an abandoned arcade room or a dilapidated playground, Drive-In is the go-to map for insane Team Deathmatch action. Plus, there's just something awfully poetic about planting some hot lead in someone's skull under a giant projection screen cycling through still pictures.
Visually, Hangar 18 feels like it is the most uninspired of the maps, but that's not to say it's a bad map. In fact, in terms of layout and the size there's certainly a lot of fun to be had. The action heats up in the central part of the battlefield, but the astute hunters tend to snake around and pick their firefights on the outskirts. And Hangar 18 is just the right size for running and gunning.
Lastly, I wasn't too impressed with Silo, but that doesn't mean it's not without its strengths -- it just didn't jive with me. Set in an underground Russian nuclear silo, Silo provides players with a gigantic playing field outfitted with many flanking routes.
Of all the Black Ops DLCs so far, Annihilation boasts some really great maps, not to mention an exhilarating new Zombie mode, that would surely please all types of players. If you thought the last map pack delivered, then Annihilation will simply rock your face off. It does more than add a fresh coat of paint over the fatigued multiplayer. Zombie-slayers will benefit greatly from the refreshing change of pace that Shangri-La delivers. And one thing's for sure: Annihilation certainly recharged my interest in Black Ops multiplayer.