It seems like only last week that Revolution was released, and everyone was in the throes of hammering out challenges for the Peacekeeper, diving through toppled, gravity-confused skyscrapers in Die Rise, and hunting the sole human in Turned mode, apart from wiping out the entire population of Earth on Hydro, Downhill, Grind, and Mirage. As it turns out, that was right at the very end of February, and with a nice 2-month time period for gamers to pay up, blast some more people/zombies, and eventually go somewhere else, Activision and Treyarch have given us the second of four DLC releases for Black Ops 2. Now, I hear you asking “How does Uprising compare to Revolution?” and to answer that particular question, I offer one response – keep reading!
Uprising may not deliver off as many fronts as Revolution did (no DLC weapon this time around), but definitely delivers harder, better, faster, and stronger on every other front. Uprising brings us four new multiplayer maps, and a brand new, genuinely unsettling Zombies game mode, sure to make any Zombies fan squeal with delight and possible terror (I’ll admit, I was creeped out).
The first of the four multiplayer maps, ‘Studio’, can be summarised in a few words – “Firing Range, visual upgrade”. It is a wall-for-wall remake of the popular Firing Range from the original Call of Duty Black Ops, with an interesting visual change. Rather than being set on a 1960’s firing range, it is now set on a futuristic film set in Hollywood, and with that comes major aesthetic changes. The areas range disjointedly from a Western saloon, a futuristic lab corridor, alien attacks, and the sniper tower near the middle of the map has transformed to a medieval castle tower. The map plays identically from the first Black Ops , but the visual upgrade may throw some players off until they can get past that and just imagine they’re playing the original again.
The second offering, Encore, is set at an abandoned rock concert pre-performance (from what I gathered), with many a flanking route, sniper position, and hiding spots to cater for pretty much any play style. The main attraction of Encore is the massive centre stage and close-by sniper’s area. The stage does play a pivotal role in map domination, but to pull it off effectively, your entire team needs to be organised to keep it, which is far easier said than done. Sniper positions are scattered around the outer area as well, which makes controlling the centre stage that little bit more difficult.
The third map, Magma, is arguably the most interesting to play, but also the most confusing. Full of dead ends, odd corners, and many ambush positions, Magma plays to the strengths of high-mobility players, particularly stealth SMG or shotgun uses. It plays more vertically than anything else does, with many exits leading through different floors, or even forcing you to barrel out a window in the hope you do not land right in the sights of an enemy, or more likely, into a steaming hot pool of lava. I was disappointed that the giant volcano in the background did not cause lava to spill across major pathways in the map, leading to a temporary change in tactics. There are large chunks of the map that look like they may have been originally designed to be a lava flow point, but the lava that’s present is still a major hazard, so watch your step.
The final multiplayer map, Vertigo, is set upon the roof of an extravagant Mumbai skyscraper, with chokepoints and death drops scattered throughout, weaving the map hazards into gameplay far better than Magma. It plays somewhat similarly to Overwatch from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, due to the switching between slower open-area combat and frantic, close-range spray-and-pray battles. The major difference between Vertigo and Overwatch is that now opportunities exist for players to jump through windows to reach different areas of the map, risking a fatal plunge to the streets below.
Now, the main attraction of Uprising is the new Zombies mode, Mob of the Dead, which takes place in Prohibition-era Alcatraz, and bringing us a famous cast of Ray Liotta, Joe Pantoliano, Chazz Palminteri and Michael Madsen to play our 4 unlucky souls for this hellish nightmare. Unlike any other Zombies mode, Mob of the Dead has you start out in the much-touted “Afterlife”. Afterlife has you playing as a ghost with increased jump height, immunity to damage, and the power to cast lightning out of your hands, which can be used to teleport zombies away from players, or to power up the many hidden and not-so-hidden power dials scattered throughout the map to turn on perk machines, open doors and enable traps. Afterlife mode is easy to get to – simply die from being mobbed by zombies, throw a grenade at your feet, or use one of the power boxes around the map to electrocute yourself.
Using Afterlife Mode is essential to the main goal of the map, which is to escape Alcatraz Island. Many of the five plane parts, and the Warden’s Key, are off-limits until you use Afterlife Mode, due to passageways that are blocked off while you are alive – these are only accessible through Afterlife Mode. These areas are easy to spot in both modes, with a strange blue symbol appearing in the normal mode, and a bright blue glowing frame around a now-open area.
Escaping Alcatraz is nowhere near as easy as it seems. The same threat of your standard zombies exists, as well as the brand new Warden Zombie, nicknamed Brutus. Brutus is a lumbering giant of a zombie. He appears when players spend too much money on the Mystery Box, or randomly in other waves, and can even take multiple waves to kill if players do not focus fire on him. Brutus can also lock down perk machines, workbenches, and the Mystery Box, costing 2000 at first, but scaling up by another 2000 points for every item disabled in a single round.
Uprising is definitely a good addition to the Call of Duty DLC family, with a series of decent, if flawed maps, and a solid, scary Zombies mode to boot. For anyone without a Season Pass, this would be the DLC to get if you had to choose between Revolution and Uprising. I personally feel it is the stronger of the two DLC releases so far, and if the current quality increase is anything to go by, the next release should be an absolute blast.