Had enough Black Ops? Well too bad! A third map pack is finally upon us, and in record time.
With Treyarch’s third offering, we’re graced with an airplane hangar, a golf course estate, a drive-in movie theater, a military installation, and a jungle themed zombie level. Is this set of levels enough to make Anihilation worth the plunge? Read on to find out.
Hangar 18 probably exhumes the most personality of all of Treyarch’s creations – and that includes World at War. “18″ is filled to the brim with unique setpieces, including the iconic SR-71 plane, and a few eerie experiments, clearly modeled after the Hangar’s murky history.
This map is set up very much like Stockpile, in that it has a huge central location surrounded by tons of small, modular office buildings. While it certainly has unique elements to it, the map layout is more of the same, and I could have used a bit more underground, tunnel combat (something that really isn’t done in Black Ops outside of Zoo).
To be frank, Hazard is easily my favorite map in the game from a pure aesthetic standpoint. As Treyarch has noted, it has clear World at War influences, and is basically a rebuild of another classic map – except, instead of war-torn Europe, it’s set in an idyllic golf resort (no, you can’t ride the carts!). Detailed sprinklers, moats, ruins, and rainbows will accompany your gunfire as you travel through a number of open fields, and small ruins to camp in.
On a design level, Hazard is different enough, and the golf course area is unique, but the resort area feels too much like Estate, to the point where it looks a bit copy and paste. I personally enjoy Hazard, but I can see others not sharing the same gusto.
As the developers have admitted, Drive-In is a loveletter to Nuketown, which is a fan favorite. However, the main difference between this map and Nuketown is the addition of wide open spaces. Drive-In is (thankfully) a bit bigger, which allows for a lot more breathing room when it comes to close combat. While there is a metal crate in the middle of the map, the center is mostly barren, which makes for some interesting fights over center objectives.
Just like Nuketown, there are two “houses” (theater screen buildings) to climb onto on either side of the map and snipe from. In the grand scheme of things, Drive-In is a nice little map that will pretty much appeal to everyone – even if it doesn’t do anything particularly special.
Out of all four maps on the table, Silo is probably the most throwaway selection. Fans of Modern Warfare 2 will no doubt draw comparisons to Quarry, as there are a ton of unfinished rectangular building materials littered across the map, in addition to a number of window-camping prone buildings. There are a few concrete tubes to walk through, but considering only a few at a time are linked, they’re more of a hindrance than a fun obstacle.
Overall it doesn’t really do anything you haven’t seen before outside of a silo that launches missiles every so often (which is kind of cool if you have the bass up loud), but ultimately, it’s forgettable.
The last time we saw our heroes, they were trapped within the icy movie set of Zombie Romero, in Call of the Dead. If you were so inclined to follow the lengthy hidden story within the last zombie map, the end result was sending the original four to an undisclosed jungle location: the dragon decorated ruins of Shangri La is that destination.
As usual, you’ll start out in a square room with a number of branching paths – a few of which ultimately lead underground to the power switch, which enables some environmental advantages. Before the power is turned on, there are a number of Indiana Jones-esque spear cage mantraps to traverse, which can either help or hinder you, depending on how you use them.
Once you turn on the power you’ll have a whole heap of goodies at your disposal, including a water slide, a geyser jump, and a mine cart ride. Like the flying platforms in Ascension, you can shoot zombies while riding these, which makes for some pretty fun playthroughs.
You’ll also have a few new weapons to peruse as well, such as the splinter claymore, and the 31-79 JGb215 shrink ray. The beloved monkey bomb, which distracts zombies for a limited time, is also back, much to the delight of fans.
Shangri La keeps things simple, and isn’t too convoluted for it’s own good, which can be both a positive or negative, depending on who you’re talking to. While it’s a worthwhile distraction for casual zombie fans, it isn’t as deep as Call of the Dead, or as unique as Ascension or Five.
At this point, before buying the third map pack, you should ask yourself how much Black Ops you’re really going to play before Modern Warfare 3 comes out. While Anihilation has it’s strong points, ultimately it’s the least exciting of the three, and one casual fans can stand to miss out on.