While some have already started counting the days until the launch of Call of Duty: Ghosts, there’s still some unfinished business with Treyarch’s Black Ops 2 in the form of Apocalypse, the game’s fourth and final map pack. Priced at $14.99 (no more Microsoft Points), the DLC contains the usual mix of four versus locales and a zombie mode, though two of the adversarial maps are remakes. So, does Black Ops 2‘s multiplayer go out with a bang… or a misfire? Here are my thoughts.
A remake of Courtyard from World at War, Dig is a frenetic map due its small size with games of Team Deathmatch and Domination feeling very cramped. There are some mild elevation changes sprinkled throughout, including a couple of recessed holes, but with waist-high walls and very limited cover this is a close-quarters, reflex-heavy battleground. Visually, it’s a fairly uninteresting location with lots of browns and grays and virtually nothing in the way of distinctive characteristics.
Outside of a chaotic “B” flag on Domination, Dig is unremarkable. I didn’t actively dislike it, but at the same time it didn’t feel appreciably new or different (and I don’t mean that simply because it’s a remake as I haven’t played Courtyard in over four years).
Although the snowy town was dubbed Frost, it could’ve just as easily been called “Camper’s Paradise” as there are a multitude of spots to set up shop and pick off more aggressive players. A frozen river cuts the map in two, but although there are several spots to cross a well coordinated group can hold one side pretty effectively. If there’s a silver lining, aerial-based kill streaks are largely neutered by the proliferation of buildings you can duck into. It’s also unique that there’s no high ground to speak of — yes, bridges go over the river, but you can’t really hang out there.
It’s got an interesting look, and I never minded when it came up in the rotation. That being said, it doesn’t feel all that different than what we’ve seen thus far; and that’s an issue when this is one of just two truly new maps on offer.
I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for a the “nature reclaims technology” look, whether it be in movies (Oblivion, 12 Monkeys, I Am Legend, etc.) or games (Last of Us, Crysis 3) so visually Pod gets my endorsement. Set against a broken down coastal housing complex you’ll be spending most of your time on the two outer flanks as walking up the main road is akin to a death wish. Like Frost, there’s no real high ground, though there are plenty of long-standing CoD clichés, including the precarious scaffolding that can be used to cut around a building to get the drop on your enemies.
Of the group, Pod is probably my favorite. I wouldn’t classify it as a great map, but I do like the flow of combat on the edges in Team Deathmatch as well as the ebb and flow over the “B” flag in Domination.
Our second remake takes us back to the original Black Ops‘ Stadium with Takeoff reimagining a hockey rink as a shuttle-launching facility in the middle of the ocean… with an ATM machine. Makes sense. Aside from a fresh coat of paint, Takeoff is nearly identical to its “inspiration,” which could be disappointing for some given how much more recently Black Ops was released as opposed to World at War. It’s still a good map, though, with loads of segmented high points to unleash your sniping skills and plenty of ground-based cover to flank said snipers and get the drop on them.
Origins (Zombie Mode)
Rounding out the offerings is the new zombie endeavor, Origins, which reunites the four original characters from World at War in a WWI-era setting full of trenches, barbed wire and mud. Oh, and giant robots. And zombies. And Big Daddy type enemies. And a lot more. It feels like Treyarch pulled out all the stops for this one with a number of new gameplay features, not the least of which are the massive patrolling robots that can crush you underfoot, and expanded mythos about the kooky world of the series’ zombie mode.
It’s a strong effort, and one that feels as though the challenge level has been amped up. Those that love to invest hour after hour into mowing down waves of undead should find the twists and tweaks to inject some new life into an inherently similar experience.
There’s fun to be had in Apocalypse, but relative to the three previous DLC packs this one feels a bit shallow on the adversarial side with no legitimate standout offerings. If you’re itching for new content and can’t wait for Ghosts it’s not a bad purchase. If you’re on the fence about it you might be better off saving your money for November.