Downloadable content for an online shooter is intended to extend the popularity of the game. For a Call of Duty franchise game like Black Ops, a title that would likely survive until the next installment without changing a thing, the bar is set fairly high. For the second batch of DLC, Escalation, which again consists of more maps without new modes or other trimmings, the bar is set even higher.
Historically, Activision Blizzard has done a good job of enticing constant players without bringing anything new to the action, save locales and environments. Nothing much changes for Black Ops in Escalation. If you're a regular online competitor, the new map pack for PS3, which was released about a month ago for Xbox 360, is a must. Avoiding this DLC and the accompanying $15 expense is an acknowledgment among core players and friends that you're out. We're assuming you don't want to quit, you're staying in through the fall and the next game, and you'd like to know if now might be the time, DLC-wise, to drop out.
The short answer is: Fans should stay current this time around. With new multiplayer maps like Zoo alone, the map pack is worth the reasonable expense. Sure, it's just a map — just several maps — but if you play all the time, and many of you do, it's well worth the cost to keep your map library up to date.
I already mentioned Zoo, and it's a highlight. As you'd expect, the map is located in a contemporary zoo, which is more like a theme park than a mere civic attraction. Multiple elevations, some surprisingly expansive ranges, and unexpected tight corners in closely stacked buildings favor veteran snipers as well as rough and ready assault teams who are handy with shotguns and pistols.
There are three more maps, plus the now-obligatory zombie map. Hotel is perhaps more favorable to long-range shooters or snipers, but there are still plenty of close-quarters combat opportunities. Stockpile is wide open, based in and around a town. The name Convoy might imply the idea you're fighting to save or destroy a convoy, but the action on this static map takes place only after the convoy has been destroyed. It's a good map on its own, but the thematic element hints at the potential of scripted-action competitive multiplayer expected in forthcoming games like Uncharted 3.
Shoot-to-killers should take note that all of these maps, save the new zombie map, are best suited for, if not limited to, online competitive modes other than team deathmatch. They are intended for players who've already graduated straight-up kill counts and gone all out for Black Ops' deeper multiplayer modes. As for the zombie map, if you like zombie mode, you'll like this map. There's nothing different in mode or mechanic, but the upcoming Annihilation map pack DLC promises some enhancements to zombie mode. It's just a new environment, but if the zombie-mode game style is your thing and you're craving new places to play, this'll do it. It's a refreshingly new zombie setting, too — if perhaps a bit chilly for the season.
If you play Black Ops online all the time, day and night, night and day, there's no question: Buy the maps. For the casual online player, will this map pack bring you back? Probably not. Should it bring you back? No. There's nothing here to keep this game going unless it's already near your top pick in current online shooters.
The inclusion of four new multiplayer maps and a zombie map frankly don't do anything for the game that weren't done when you first opened the box last November, but that's not a bad thing. If you're avid about Call of Duty: Black Ops, there's nothing to complain about, even at roughly three bucks a map. If you've already put away the game in favor of other engagements, don't expect this DLC offering to suck you back in for very long. If you remain fully engaged, the Escalation content will only enhance the game.
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