CoD Black Ops 2: Apocalypse DLC Review — Flamethrower. Zombies.
Any excuse to dive back into more pressure-cooker multiplayer pew-pew in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is a welcome thing for me. As with its predecessor, I largely ignored the single-player campaign for many months in favor of a steady drip of online killing action, and it wasn’t until just recently that I even bothered to revisit the game’s solo offerings. Don’t get me wrong, the campaign is all good fun too, but the potent combination of adrenaline, frustration, and raw excitement that comes from a well-played round of deathmatch or domination just can’t be beat.
So with the intensely competitive multiplayer underpinning remaining as absorbing and murderous as ever, the real strength of Black Ops 2′s frag-focused add-ons hinges on the quality and diversity of their maps. Apocalypse — the fourth and final run of map pack DLC to launch before CoD: Ghosts snags our trigger-happy attention — doesn’t quite deliver the flash bang finale I’d hoped. But battling zombies beneath the stomping feet of a giant steam punk robot? *That* grabs my attention like a live grenade to the drawers.
CoD Black Ops 2: Apocalypse DLC
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PS3, PC
Release Date: August 26, 2013
It's not that there's anything particularly abysmal about the quartet of new multiplayer maps Apocalypse dishes out (Dig, Pod, Frost, and Takeoff). There's enough design variety between them to suit a range of tactical tastes, whether your a run-and-gunner, long shot sniper, or somewhere in between. The thing is, while they're all fairly solid, none of these maps really jump to the fore as standout gems, and the fact that two of the four are redesigned versions of oldies from previous games makes a good chunk of this update feel more like rehash than anything else.
Pictured above, CoD: Black Ops 2 "Apocalypse" DLC map Pod.
Starting with the less common pick of the regular map rotation, Pod drops you into one of the cooler-looking arenas to fight across, a failed cityscape in Taiwan long abandoned by its human creators. Nestled between dense forests and a cliffs overlooking a oceanfront beachside, an abundance of debris and plant overgrowth threaten to reclaim the doomed settlement. Winding your way through the uneven ground and crumbling interior of the map's ground-level, three-lane pod network puts you into some thrilling close quarter firefights. But there's also a nice balance of open ground to spread out across. The big disappointment here is that there's no way to climb up any of the pod towers that dot the map. It's a visual deception that will undoubtedly irritate sniping enthusiasts to no end.
Pictured above, CoD: Black Ops 2 "Apocalypse" DLC map Takeoff.
Takeoff features a similar layout and emphasis on closer-quarter firefights, but also offers a stark change of pace environment-wise. A remake of Stadium from Call of Duty: Black Ops' First Strike DLC, this colorful map sprawls across a space shuttle port plunked down on a barge off the Pacific Coast. Despite a better range of high ground to capitalize on, the best sniping spots leave you exposed to attack from behind. As such, the map is far more fun to play when you have a cohesive team that works in tandem to protect its flanks.
Pictured above, CoD: Black Ops 2 "Apocalypse" DLC map Frost.
Sending you slinking through the snowy city streets of an arctic Amsterdam, Frost's symmetrical design divides the map in twain with a frozen canal. With a central bridge sandwiched between two smaller crossing points on either side, it's easy to go round and round on this one. The real chaos comes, however, when friends and foes zip horizontally along through the frozen channel below.
Despite the neat layout, this small snowy map gets old quickly.
Pictured above, CoD: Black Ops 2 "Apocalypse" DLC map Dig.
Another remake -- this time of CoD: World at War's Courtyard -- Dig's desert locale churns around a circular map layout surrounding an archeological site plunked down in the middle of the battlefield. This unpredictable map is rife with half-destroyed walls to duck behind, hop over, or climb atop, and the central open terrain is a dangerous killing ground for dizzying firefights from all directions. Though abundant in frequency, the volume of each hunk of cover is skimpy at best, leaving you frequently exposed and leading to some harrowing escapes (and fatalities).