Review: Black Ops 2: Uprising turns the tables upside down on the Call of Duty formula
Quirky isn’t a word one generally uses to define Call of Duty. The franchise’s formula has been forthright and, at times, uninspiring, but, on occasion, fans have been treated to an experience that fuses Call of Duty’s upfront military focus with its “arcady” shooter nature; it’s where the series has shined the most. These instances include Nuketown in the original Black Ops, Rust in Modern Warfare 2, and, perhaps a series definer, Terminal in Modern Warfare 2. These maps broke the Call of Duty mold, and in the same way it’s where Black Ops 2’s latest DLC, “Uprising” is hoping to find praise. Does it succeed? Read on to find out if it’s worth your money.
Uprising is quirky, but don’t dismiss it as a foreign Call of Duty map pack; it’s still familiar to both the franchise and Black Ops 2. The first map that I got my hands on was “Magma,” which takes place on a Japanese village that lies, idiotically, on top of a volcano (property value has to be awful, right?) But the kicker is that there’s spewing lava throughout the corners of the map that essentially equals death when you come into contact with it. Now, the lava pools are an interesting feature, but I feel as though Activision missed an opportunity to really include it in the map itself by making it overtake the map at some point, thus turning the fighting into close-quarters chaos. However, what’s there is there, and it’s actually quite fun.
Much of the fighting takes place throughout the outer ring of the map and it’s where a good deal of the lava lies. But the middle portion of the map often turns into close-quarters combat, as there’s limited “alleyway” vantage points. Even cooler, there’s some verticalness to this middle area that’s especially noteworthy when playing domination, as one of the flags lies below the map’s ground level. Here, you can get the drop on enemies from above, or flank from below to take out foes. All in all, it’s not exactly what I hoped it would be, but it’s certainly a welcomed addition.
Next, I played through “Encore,” and let's just say it rocked. My initial concern with Encore was that Activision wouldn’t allow the entire map to be playable, specifically the stage. Thankfully, nearly everything in the map can be accessed in some way, and it makes for some intriguing battles. Much of the map is open, including the large stage and seating area, and the behind-seating concourse that stretches from one spawn point to the other, which are both connected by small corridors, rooms, and even a tiny ventilation shaft that runs under the stage, thus making confrontation a must.
My only gripe with Encore is that, with it being set in London, why is there no onstage Beatles presence? Okay, call that nit-picking if you will, but who wouldn’t want that?
Moving on, I checked out the “outlier” of the Uprising Map Pack, Vertigo. Set on top of a skyscraper in India, Vertigo doesn’t introduce anything that’s unique or necessarily fun. Whereas the lava marks Magma as distinctive, and where the rock concert setting makes Encore so intriguing, Vertigo is just what it’s described to be: a map on top of a skyscraper set with lengthy open pathways, and that’s not what Uprising is about. However, don’t think that it’s a bad map; it’s just a part of the Call of Duty mold that I feel Uprising is attempting to dismantle, or at least shake up.
Thankfully, the last map in this Uprising DLC pack knocks a homerun so far that you forget how tame Vertigo is.
Studio is a re-creation of Firing Range from the original Black Ops, but the term “re-creation” doesn’t begin to do Studio justice. Firing Range was, well, what its name implies: a military training exercise. Studio, on the other hand, takes Firing Range’s basic layout and adds an extensive Hollywood flare. It’s best experienced on your own, so I’ll just list a number of “eye candy” pieces you’ll see in Studio:
· Miniature metropolis
· Rapunzel tower
· Old West saloon
· And much, much more
I don’t want to ramble too much about how much I love Studio, but come on, who doesn’t want to run into a mechanical dinosaur while you attempt to flank an enemy?
And last but not least is the fifth map in the Uprising Map Pack, “Mob of the Dead.” As you’re likely aware, this is yet another addition to Black Ops 2’s Zombies component, but until you play it yourself, you won’t realize just how ambitious Mob of the Dead is.
Stranded on Alcatraz, you and three other mobsters will have to fight through waves of zombies throughout the eerie prison and its docks, collect parts, and eventually fly yourself off the island to safety. The map itself is exceptionally large; so large that communication among your teammates is an absolute must.
The map also introduces the ability to go into the “Afterlife,” where you can help clear out zombies, add power to switches for traps and parts, and even revive yourself. Now, this doesn’t simplify the game, because Mob of the Dead is arguably the most difficult Zombies map to date, especially since you aren’t given unlimited Afterlife chances. Nonetheless, Afterlife is an intriguing addition that adds strategy amidst a setting of “Try this and fail? Well, you die.”
In reality, I’m still figuring out exactly everything that Mob of the Dead has to offer, but I can confirm that it’s absolutely thrilling. Before you know it, 45 minutes turns into 3 hours, and that’s worth the map pack’s price point alone.
Yes, Black Ops 2’s Uprising Map Pack is different, but it’s a bold move that works most of the time. Perhaps Uprising’s best success is that it’s ideal for the two different Call of Duty parties: those that have become bored of the regular mold we alluded to earlier, and those just wanting more content. It’s not a map pack to end all map packs, but it’s certainly an approach that Activision should be praised for.