Call Of Duty: Black Ops – First Strike
Another year, another Call Of Duty map pack. They appear with such regularity these days that we don’t even raise an eyebrow; simply log in, kit up and blast away. And this time your 1200MSP will get you five brand new maps, four for standard multiplayer modes and one – Ascension – for Zombies.
Quickly onto to the bread and butter, then. The four new multiplayer maps: Discovery, Stadium, Kowloon and Berlin Wall. Discovery is a snow-covered facility map not unlike Black Ops’ original Summit. This one is much larger, however, and covers a lot of open ground. Interconnecting buildings mean its possible for the tactical player to navigate the terrain without much hassle from stray shots from a distant enemy. While fairly uninspired visually (besides the obvious night sky glow), there are a lot of small nuances that make Discovery a very engaging map.
Stadium, as the name might suggest, takes part in the surrounding area outside an abandoned arena. The mesh of buildings and cover means only deadly accurate gunslingers will be victors here, bringing down their opponent with the very brief, fleeting glimpse given as the enemy crosses between buildings. Unfortunately there are a number of camping spots within this map that can keep claymore users more than content staying put. There’s a lot of height variety too, though, so will need some learning before players can dominate.
Kowloon is the most interesting of the bunch, taking part on top of a collection of rooftops. As expected, this map features a great deal of verticality that needs to be understood to defend against the layout. Luckily there are a select few spots that allow players to cover these sections with ease, rewarding the fast and silent players rather than methodical movers. Two ziplines are positioned in the centre of the map, allowing a quick escape but disabling the use of your weapons.
Unfortunately, these are too slow and cumbersome to do little more than paint a target in the sky for your enemies. Campers have already found a couple of favourite spots on Kowloon too, relaying a fear that these maps lack the quality that went into making the Black Ops originals so impenetrable for campers and other online bugbears. Mercifully, once you’re aware of them, they’re easily countered.
Berlin Wall is an intriguing map, least of all due to its unique setting. Through the centre of the map is ‘No Man’s Land’, which, as you might predict, is fatal for any player to cross. Automated turrets cover this land, gunning down anyone idiotic enough to pass through here. The remainder of the map is filled with a variety of buildings covering single or double floors, the majority of them having windows that give a perfect vantage spots over the open areas. This is one of the best maps of the bunch that really requires dedication before you understand its intricacies.
The new zombie map, Ascension, also brings with it a selection of purchasable perks. The level itself is hard to distinguish between the existing Black Ops Zombies maps, discounting the large centrifuge, of course. This plays a big part in Ascension, in fact, which will wipe out any zombies – or knock you and your team-mates down. The new perks act as expected, providing you have the large sum to cover the cost. Stamin-Up, for example, gives you extra stamina while PhD Flopper enhances your dive with an explosive blast. They work well at giving you a fighting chance, but hardly the game-changing addition they might be conceived as.