Published on July 14th, 2013 | by Cliff Bakehorn III, Contributor
Call of Duty: Black Ops II Vengeance DLC Review
Back With a Vengeance?
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed]
Release Date: July 2, 2013
But for those who are not already equipped with a Season Pass for Black Ops II, is the Vengeance pack worth its $15 price tag?
After spending some time exploring the new maps, including Cove, Detour, Rush and Uplink (the re-imagining of Black Ops’ snowy Summit map), and diving into the “Buried” game mode, I was pretty impressed. Each of the new multiplayer maps encourages vastly different styles of play, which gives Vengeance a lot of variety for the competitive types. The new Zombies content adds a lot of freshness to the mode, giving fans of the undead-blasting game types something new to talk about.
New Multiplayer Maps
The first new multiplayer map is Cove, which based on a lonely oceanic island, complete with a wrecked passenger plane and scattered debris. Dare I say the appearance of the map is immediately reminiscent of Lost? Cove is one of the prettiest maps in Black Ops II, and easily my favorite new addition to the game since Grind in the Revolution DLC pack.
Cove is best described as a very cyclical, flank-friendly map. It is definitely small, with a cramped central area that hosts the wrecked airplane seen in the image above. This central spot is absolutely chaotic, with all spawn points leading directly toward it. The terrain is uneven throughout most of the map, and there are plenty of choke points and camping spots as well as view points overlooking the center location.
I have always favored the natural, organic stages in Call of Duty titles more than the urban settings, and this bright and colorful island map stands out as one of my favorites in terms of its appearance.
What really sells the map is its circular design, which encourages players to constantly move clockwise or counter-clockwise, flanking the enemy from the beachfront or the shaded cave corridors throughout the area. This map is perfect for basic game types such as Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed and Free-For-All. It keeps the pace fast and exciting, perfect for run-and-gun players who favor short- or mid-range weapons such as the Peacekeeper or the M27.
The next new locale in Vengeance is Detour, a ravaged suspension bridge located in New York City. The gorgeous backdrop of the futuristic NYC cityscape is a sight to behold, as you can see in the image below.
Detour is a pretty challenging map, favoring mid- and long-range play styles. Detour features a vertigo-inducing area beneath the bridge, which also contains a hole right in the center that can claim the life of players who aren’t being careful with their footing. The cluttered, car-filled streets make for some pretty long sight lines — again, assault and sniper rifles are definitely welcome on this map. The symmetry of the layout is nice, and unique to this map pack. The others are asymmetrical, making Detour a bit easier to learn than the others.
That being said, Detour is not my favorite addition to Black Ops II, but I could see myself warming up to it quite a bit — like Mirage, another map I wasn’t very fond of when I first played it.
Perhaps the most chaotic new map in Vengeance is the aptly-named Rush, based on a Georgian paintball facility. This mid-sized map is extremely cramped, with few open areas to engage in large-scale firefights…in other words, it lends well to the run-and-gun play style, and makes for a perfect Free-For-All or Team Deathmatch location.
Rush isn’t a small map, but its cramped corridors and short-range sightlines immediately reminded me of the maps in many classic shooters, such as Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. It’s almost too small and hectic for the Hardcore game types, but it works pretty well for fast-paced objective games as well as the standard TDM/FFA matches.
This map actually shares a lot of visual similarities with Grind, both the fact that it is surprisingly colorful and full of detail in both its exterior sections and its indoor paintball area (seen in the image above). I was worried that Rush would be difficult to play if there was too much of the brightly colored paintball spots all over the walls of the map, but the graphic designers did a fine job keeping this issue to a minimum — the opposing players stand out against the background just fine, better than on many of the other urban-style maps.
Rounding out the four new maps offered in the Vengeance DLC is Uplink, a remake of the Summit map from the original Black Ops. Summit was my personal favorite map in the prior game, and it makes a very welcome return in Black Ops II: It’s a very balanced, well-designed asymmetrical map that fits well with the other maps offered both on the disc and through the other DLC packs.
Uplink is just as fun to play as Summit was, but the dramatic visual differences presented issues that I never had on the original map — primarily visibility, due to the darker color palette used in the redesign. It reminded me a lot of Blackout, the Halo 3 remake of Halo 2’s Lockout. For example, it was still a brilliant map, but the issues with seeing your opponents within the environment was more of a problem.
The map still works very well for basic Team Deathmatch games, Kill Confirmed and especially the objective game types. In fact, I spent a lot of time playing Domination on Summit in Black Ops, and the fact that Uplink appeared in the rotation made me try the game type in Black Ops II for the very first time.
New Zombies Mode Content
As far as the new Zombies content, Buried follows up the Alcatraz-based Mob of the Dead mode from the Uprising DLC quite well, based on a labyrinthine, Western-style ghost town buried deep underground.
The map is definitely claustrophobic, much like the corridors of Die Rise from the Revolution DLC. As you make your way underground, you’ll notice a lot of parts that can be collected and built, as well as debris that can be cleared for new escape routes. There are even pieces of chalk that let you to place your own specific weapon points throughout the map, allowing you to quickly reload or re-purchase the weapons you like instead of risking your hard-earned points on the Random Box.
Perhaps the coolest part in the map, there’s a giant locked away in a jail cell deep underground, and with a little bit of clever work, you can use him as a devastating battering ram against zombies and the debris that blocks your path.
The underground ghost town is visually stunning; even a quick glance down the ravaged main street of the ghost town is a pretty sight. I really enjoyed the new period-based zombie models, with well-dressed gentlemen zombies sporting fancy top hats and sultry female zombies nearly bursting out of their ragged tops.
Also new to Buried (as well as all Zombies maps, for anyone with the Vengeance DLC) is the upgraded Ray Gun Mk. II, seen in the image above. It pains me to say that I still haven’t uncovered one of these bad boys in the random box or otherwise; my only experience with this new weapon was when I was taken down by zombies. Your standard pistol seems to be replaced by the Mk. II by default, and the effect of each shot is pretty devastating. In fact, it seems to be strong enough to blast the player backward slightly with each round.
I can only imagine at this point how much more impressive and exciting the weapon is when it’s not being used as your last-ditch defense against the zombies that took you down.
After my experience with Buried, it’s my new favorite among the other Zombies game types. To say it’s refreshing to play something other than Survival matches on Barn or Depot is an understatement; even Die Rise was starting to get old. Buried is perfect for those who are into playing Zombies with several players, particularly those who use excellent communication to put together all the different parts and learn all the secrets in each new mode.
If you are a frequent Call of Duty: Black Ops II player but didn’t purchase the Season Pass, you should definitely consider purchasing the Vengeance DLC. The new multiplayer maps are a hit, and the Buried Zombies mode, as well as the Ray Gun Mk. II weapon, spice up that component of Black Ops II quite a lot.
Again, for fans of Black Ops II, there should be little question about the value of this new content pack — it adds a lot of extra life to last year’s blockbuster hit, and provides some much-needed variety.
Summary: The Vengeance DLC adds a great new Zombies mode and four solid maps, making it a worthy purchase for Black Ops II fans.