Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – Uprising is the second DLC pack from Treyarch. VG247’s Dave Cook dolphin dives head first into battle, and discusses whether or not it’s worth a purchase.
Black Ops 2: Uprising
This is the second DLC pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, developed internally at Treyarch. It launched on Xbox Live on April 16. It will hit PS3 and PC soon.
The studio released an Uprising walkthrough trailer which sees David Vonderhaar discussing each of the maps and new Zombies campaign Mob of the Dead. Watch it here.
Speaking of Zombies, here’s a separate Mob of the Dead trailer, which goes behind the scenes.
The pack follows Treyarch’s first DLC ‘Revolution’. You can read my full appraisal of the pack here.
I’ve always said that Treyarch’s Call of Duty DLC is both more substantial and offers better value per pound than any add-on content produced by Infinity Ward.
Modern Warfare’s DLC has largely given us bland urban environments with re-used assets from either the core campaign or on-disc maps. This doesn’t apply across the board – as Modern Warfare 3’s DLC run did eventually produce some stellar locales – but it often felt like you were paying good money for minimal effort.
Black Ops 2: Uprising is a another fine example of how to not copy and paste assets, as every map on offer feels fresh, with bright, colourful environments and plenty of new things to see as you mow each other down.
New Zombies campaign Mob of the Dead also tries a lot of new things and – amazingly – made me actually care about the undead side of Treyarch’s shooter. I’ve never really got on with the studio’s love affair with the horde, but I’ll explain why I’ve been swayed in a moment.
First, let’s talk about the multiplayer maps themselves. At the moment you can only play Magma, Vertigo, Studio and Encore in their own playlist across Team Deathmatch, Domination and Mosh Pit modes, and as is tradition they will eventually become integrated into the standard playlists,
Magma is by far the best map on offer. Set in Japan next to a volcano that’s just erupted, the streets are a maze of wrecked cars and subway trains that make for precarious bridges over flowing lava. There are plenty of indoor karaoke clubs, fish markets and restaurants to battle your way through, as smiling anime characters adorn billboards on the walls.
It’s quite different to look at, and the lava river in the middle is similar to the mini-gun killzone from original Black Ops DLC map Berlin Wall. Just stay the hell away from it. There are also clumps of molten hot rocks dotted around the map. Walk over them for too long and you erupt in a ball of flames and feel like a bit of a dick. Not that I ever did that of course *cough*.
Its fast paced and favours play of all ranges. Snipers will love scoping down the side paths and across the lava river, while everyone else seems to sprint around the shops and interiors as usual. It’s a great mix of techniques all set to a colourful and vibrant location.
Next up is London map Encore, which takes place in an abandoned open-air gig venue by the River Thames. Almost all of the assets here are new again, and I think this is the map I disliked the most, not because it’s guff, but because it favours long-range play, and I’m an dual pistol kind of guy. I know, what a dick eh?
The standing room in the middle is a hotbed of death. Just avoid cutting across there at all costs. Instead you can have a lot of fun sprinting around the concession stands and roadie areas around the sides, while snipers can hole up in the sound engineer booth and fire down on to the stage. If you manage to secure the stage however, you are in a very advantageous position.
That said, I don’t think the stage provides enough cover as Treyarch’s Uprising trailer led me to believe. Unless the snipers up there have a trophy system and plenty of claymores or bouncing betties around the perimeter, you can flush them out with a well-lobbed C4 pack or cooked grenade. Still, the stage makes for a fun territorial exchange.
Skyscraper battle Vertigo is next. This was originally a Modern Warfare 2 map that got scrapped but I can’t see why. It probably has the least personality out of all the Uprising maps, but it’s still a fun, small, but deceptively dense map.
You can battle around the sides of the building to engage in mid-range battle, using crates and ventilation units as cover, but I wouldn’t say that snipers are in too pretty a spot out there, thanks to how much defence is given to the mid-range guys. There are even some precarious shortcuts that you can fall off. Not that I ever did that *cough*.
Do you see a trend of my silliness and fails forming here? Anyway, if you cut through the middle you can engage in severely close-quarter exchanges on the skyscraper’s staircases. If you take this route you’re never too far from an enemy so shotgun fans will be in their element here. It’s a small map that can reach Nuketown levels of pace and insanity at times.
Finally, Studio is a remake of the superb Firing Range from the original Black Ops. Now, this is where I applaud Treyarch even more, because instead of just re-releasing an old map from the previous game – and charging us again for it like Infinity Ward – the studio has remodelled the whole thing.
Yeah I know, it’s still the same map underneath but it honestly looks brilliant. It’s set in a Hollywood studio lot this time, and each corner is based on a different theme. The big tower in the middle is now a Medieval castle, the tire maze at Domination flag A is now a miniature city from a disaster movie, and the huts by the jeeps are now Wild West saloons.
There’s even a section based on Jurassic Park, with an animatronic T-Rex gnashing and roaring through a broken electric fence. Actual, real, literal effort. It still plays well too, and I’m sure fans will appreciate that Treyarch has brought it back at any rate. Now then, to the thorn in my side – Zombies.
Mob of the Dead is a very interesting Zombies scenario. It stars Ray Liotta, Michael Madsen, Joe Pantoliano and Chazz Palminteri as a bunch of wise-guy mobsters who stage a break out of Alcatraz prison. The thing is, they all get killed by zombies just moments into their breakout.
You start the round as a ghost and this threw me off a little. You have to find the body of one of the dead gangsters and enter it, effectively reviving them. From there you engage in the usual spate of zombie blasting, unlocking guns and barricading entry points.
But now you can find an electric maintenance panel and shock yourself to death any time you want, reverting yourself back to ghost form. You can do this three times in each round, but you will die if you fail to return to your body within the time limit. In this state you can hurl lightning at zombies and use it to power up switches.
These switches can be used to turn on perk dispensers, doorways and gondolas that let you traverse quickly from the island’s docks or the top floors of the prison. You can also levitate, pass through small gaps in walls and pull off a range of neat short-cuts if you know where to find them.
It’s a simple system, but one that gives the Black Ops Zombies format a shot in the arm. There’s also a creepy as hell warden that rushes you every few rounds and takes many hits to kill. It’s terrifying the first time he stomps towards you.
So is Black Ops 2: Uprising worth getting? I’d say so, but the multiplayer maps aren’t as interactive as previous maps have been. Consider Hydro’s flooding mechanic, the sliding doors on Drone and the turret in Turbine. These things may seem simple but they often add urgency and an element of strategy into the mix.
I didn’t get that feeling in Uprising, so if you’re cash -poor until the end of the month, maybe wait until then to make your purchase or try the maps out at a friend’s first. If you’re a Zombies fan you should buy this for Mob of the Dead no questions asked. It’s brilliant and tries several new things.
Let us know if you pick it up, plan to pick it up, or simply won’t below.
Disclosure: To write this piece, Activision sent Dave a code for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – Uprising. No other merchandise or advertising were offered or accepted. Yes, Dave has fallen off Veritgo’s rooftops and has been combusted by Magma’s lava many times like an idiot.