Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Escalation Map Pack Review

15 06 2011

Treyarch has set an industry standard for downloadable content (DLC) in the past with Call of Duty: World at War. They have continued that tradition for their hugely successful follow-up Call of Duty: Black Ops initially with First Strike and now their newest map pack titled Escalation, which released on June 10th 2011 for the PlayStation 3.

Like their previous iterations Escalation features four new multiplayer maps – Stockpile, Convoy, Hotel, and Zoo – along with yet another zombie map/mode called Call of The Dead.

Similar to First Strike Escalation features a wide array of interesting locales which are meant to cater to the varying styles of multiplayer gamers. However it seems Treyarch had decided to focus more on medium to long range skirmishes this time around as all of the maps are large. For instance there is no map like First Strike’s Stadium or even Nuketown where the action is much more focused and hectic.

But what Escalation does provide over First Strike is the level of detail present in the game and their environments. I previously felt the team was getting lethargic with their map design and ideas but it is noticeably better in Escalation in my opinion. This wave of maps have much more detail and the level design is more complex not to mention the interactivity that is present such as the working elevators in Hotel or the storage doors in Stockpile. These elements allow additional tactics to be used in the various game modes resulting in much more variety prolonging your map fatigue.

Of the four Hotel and Zoo will probably take precedence as the fan favorites because of the variety in both design and visuals as well as tons of opportunities for a mixture of long to short range combat. Zoo has striking visual similarities to Modern Warfare 2 Resurgence pack’s Carnival but yet again the overall flow and level layout is superior. If Zoo is comparable to Carnival then Hotel probably closely resembles another Modern Warfare 2 map, Highrise. This is not to say that either Convoy or Stockpile are less interesting, they just feel like the many maps that we have seen before.

All of the different maps provide their own challenges and strengths. However once a player gets use to these maps they can develop their own tactics and easily learn how to play to the maps strengths while overcoming the challenges. Even though these maps may be focused on larger range combat each map presents a multitude of opportunities for every type of player from the sniper to the run and gunner. These new maps also visually look better than previous maps and besides Stockpile are not just the dingy gray and browns we are use to but actually have a lot of bright visuals that again add to the appeal.

But that’s not all Treyarch also released a map for the ever popular zombie mode yet this time with a unique twist. The player controls one of four actors – Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robert Englund, Danny Trejo, or Michael Rooker – who are on the set of George Romero’s latest movie that is being filmed near an ominous shipwreck in the snowy wastelands of Siberia. Of course a real undead outbreak occurs infesting George Romero forcing the all-star cast to band together and drive back wave upon wave of zombies while an angry undead Romero follows them around.

Call of The Dead uses this unique twist in the same vain as the bonus presidential map that is unlocked in the main game. Besides this Call of The Dead introduces new perks and guns as well as loads of extras and unlocks that the Call of Duty zombie faithful crave. But at it’s base it is the same core gameplay we all have come to enjoy.

Let’s be frank, these maps don’t bring with them any new mechanics only interesting changes of scenery meant to prolong an already enjoyable experience. Not to sell these maps short, they are visually pleasing and well constructed with a variety of terrain that offers the player multiple options during a firefight. Much less the zombie map is one of if not the best the series has to offer and capable of stealing countless hours. But if you have already moved past Black Ops then this most likely will not rekindle your dwindling flame.

However if you are one of the millions upon millions of fans who helped contribute to Black Ops extraordinary sales numbers and still crave more then Escalation; including the time sink that is Call of The Dead, is well worth the experience.

Are you going to pick up the Escalation map pack? Maybe you already have, if so what are your thoughts?





Modern Warfare 3 Announcement Trailer

4 06 2011

Not surprisingly Activision has revealed that a Call of Duty title will be released this November. The title will be Modern Warfare 3 a sequel to 2009’s hit Modern Warfare 2 developed by Infinity Ward which is now a shell of their former self. However this time around they will receive help from newly formed Sledgehammer Games as well as Raven Software in some aspect or another. It’s difficult to say if this co-development will affect the overall quality of the game, especially since Infinity Ward was widely considered the better of the two Call of Duty developers.

Although if the following trailer has anything to say about it then Modern Warfare 3 still looks to be an action packed thrill ride that will be enjoyed by many, including myself.

Check it out for yourselves…

Modern Warfare 3 will be releasing November 8th 2011 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC systems. You can pre-order from Amazon.com by clicking here.

Tell us what you think of the trailer or your thoughts on Modern Warfare 3 in general in the comments below.





inFamous 2 Beast Trailer Revealed

2 06 2011

One of my most anticipated titles for this year, inFamous 2, is just around the corner. I adored the original especially the ending which set the stage for a stellar sequel and so far from the trailers I have seen it does not seem to disappoint. These trailers revealed Cole’s new powers and locations among other things but what about the Beast and which Cole was destined to fight since the original inFamous? While we have seen glimpses of what appears to be the Beast we don’t truly know what we are up against, until now. In the newest trailer, which you can see below, we are given an indication of what Cole is up against and the type of destruction this Beast can cause.

See for yourselves …

Look for inFamous 2 on shelves June 7th 2011 exclusively for the PlayStation 3. Also stay tuned for a review of inFamous 2 right here at Beyond The D-Pad as I suspect I will be playing quite a lot.

Are you excited to play inFamous 2 or is there another title you are highly anticipating? Let us know in the comments section below.