Published on June 1st, 2011 | by Ben Gray


Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops – Escalation

Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops – Escalation Ben Gray

Summary: Ben takes a look at Call of Duty: Black Ops – Escalation DLC, is it any good? read the review to find out!


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Elevators? Doors? George Romero? What more could you possibly want from a map pack? They were even kind enough to throw Sarah Michelle Gellar in too. How generous of them. I am of course, talking about the latest downloadable content from the ridiculous money-making giant that is Call of Duty Black Ops, entitled Escalation. Five maps in the mix as usual, four for the competitive side and one for the zombie killer in all of us. Now a question likely on many minds about now is not only whether the latest offering delivers, but how it compares to the last DLC, First Strike. Read on to find… actually I’ll tell you now, it’s roughly on par, if not slightly better, for several reasons. Let’s start off by talking about Hotel, which is by far one of the biggest maps on Black Ops. You don’t need to be a genius to guess where this map is set, but for those of us still guessing, let me fill you in. Set on the rooftops and upper floors of two massive, luxury hotels, the gap between the two is filled in with swimming pools and changing rooms, in which you can battle your way across from one hotel to the other. The key stand out point in this map is the inclusion of elevators, which are fully functioning and allow for some clever opportunities. Sticking a claymore on the inside and sending the elevator up to a group of eager enemies is quite satisfying; the signature beep as it arrives at the floor before the enemy team rush inside, blown to smithereens in the process. There’s always bound to be the odd few that will sit and camp inside the elevators, but I don’t see how going up and down in a square box for ten minutes straight can be any fun whatsoever. Whether you’re close quarters, all rounder or long distance player, the map design caters for all three types to some extent. I can see this one being an instant favourite amongst players.
Guess who?
Next up is Convoy, a map with a less-predictable name this time around. From your first time playing on this map, you’ll realise from looking at the motorway that runs through the centre of the map that things went down, not quite as intended. This is suggested by the giant gaping hole in the middle, and the military jeep wreckages that I’m assuming were transporting something of value, hence “Convoy”. Enough of my analysing, to summarise, Convoy is another map with good design. Multiple routes, various elevations to allow for vantage points or sneaking around, and there’s plenty of fun to be had. I sometimes question why the rear of the sniping points are covered; as this makes it a hard task for you to kill a sniper positioned up there, but you’ll rarely have any trouble if you toss a few grenades in through the sides. Stockpile is the third map in Escalation, and like Hotel, offers forms of interactivity. Two garage doors which can be opened and closed in the central building, and having your team inside can prove a tactical advantage. There are a few issues however with these doors, and the prospect of, as the developer describes “locking the building down”. For one, the doors can be activated from either side, so any enemy can simply stroll along and unlock it at will. Secondly, there are at least another four ways into the building besides through the main doors, many of which are quite close to them too, so these doors prove more of an inconvenience rather than being of any use. Dodgy doors aside, the map is yet another offering that plays well, particularly on Domination which can get quite intense. You can navigate in and around the many building scattered around, and there tends to always be a way of flanking the enemy. The final competitive map, Zoo, is one of my favourites. The different ways to traverse the map, whether it is from the towering yet open monorail, or sneaking underground to avoid enemy sight, really opens up your options as to how you approach things. Yes, many will still either sit in a corner or run in guns blazing, but it’s nice to have the routes available. The second map in the DLC to have a ridiculously obvious title, there’s no need for me to tell you where it’s set, although what was alarming is where on earth all the animals have disappeared to. Skulls dotted around the ground suggest they were killed, but I for one would like to know. Could they be part of a bigger conspiracy? Does their disappearance give hints as to the future of the franchise? Who knows? Evidently I would have loved to ride an angry panda around the battlefield, but so be it.
Phew. After all that shooting, there’s a hotel to rest in. I am happy now!
Call of the Dead has gotten many fans talking, and is instantly my favourite zombie map I’ve played; mainly because of how fast paced it is, despite being yet another huge location. The major difference is that the famous George Romero will be slowly following you in zombified form the entire time, wielding a stage light. Shooting him or getting too close will make him pretty angry, and he’ll charge for the nearest living thing; so this makes him essentially the equivalent of a L4D witch. Speaking of Left 4 Dead, the four main characters include the likes of Danny Trejo and Sarah Michelle Gellar, making for a cast of three men and one woman (sounds familiar?). The map contains ziplines (which by the way are a massive improvement over the ones in the last DLC) as well as a flipper that catapults you across the map. The map offers intensity and exploration, as well as some nifty little easter eggs. Zombie fans will LOVE this. Black Ops: Escalation is one of the best Call of Duty DLCs there has been; offering good level design, interactivity and more George Romero than you can shake a stick at. Surprisingly, for most fans of Call of Duty, the price tag (which has always been controversial) has pretty much been justified with this map pack, and I’m recommending it to any CoD player.  

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