Well here we are again. Even though “Escalation” seemed like it was just released weeks before, “Annihilation” was leaked, confirmed, and released within weeks for Call of Duty: Black Ops. Last time around Treyarch was able to provide some decent multiplayer maps to go with the incredible Call of the Dead Zombies map. This time they try to “annihilate” you with “Silo,” “Hangar 18,” “Hazard,” and “Drive-in” and “Shangri-La” Were they able to successfully follow success of “Escalation” and its $15 price tag?
Infiltrate the SILO
Let’s begin with “Silo.” This is by far the worst map from the pack that I experienced. The action in “Silo” is split up into a couple of buildings, underground passages and pathways around small missile silos; it’s similar to what you’d see in a cross between “Launch” and “Countdown” from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. While the design is just simply confusing and not fun to play, the biggest issues come from the silos. If you recall in Launch, the giant missile launches one time per game. In “Silo,” it seems like they go off every 1-2 minutes, and they are LOUD. If you have a gaming headset or headphones like I use, the sound will be ten times as obnoxious. Even if they put these silos in there to be a bit of a nuisance, they ramped it up way too much. The creativity seems like it was there, but the random annoyances and poor design choices cripple this map.
Invade HANGAR 18
Next is “Hangar 18.” One, did anyone else immediately picture Dave Mustaine shredding to the Megadeth song of the same name? Personally, I felt this is the best map in “Annihilation.” The basic design is fairly straightforward. You have lanes on each side that connect the spawn points, and a giant hangar in the middle. Unlike Silo, Treyarch was able to successfully show some creativity, having many bizarre things related to the infamous Area 51, such as a floating apple that repels bullets in the back, and a massive SR-71 Blackbird in the hangar. The map has a nice amount of color, another thing that Treyarch lags behind on at points, and the basic gametypes such as Domination and Search play very well on it. There are some camping spots, but you probably won’t notice them unless you are playing maps that force you into the opponent’s spawns like Capture the Flag or Sabotage.
Escape the HAZARD
“Hazard” is described by Treyarch as a “re-imagining” of the map “Cliffside” from Call of Duty: World at War. Re-imagining is one way to put it, but to simplify it, the only different between the two maps are the aesthetics. Treyarch somehow thought a ravaged cliff side would work well as a golf course, and for some reason it worked. The bright colors on the map are awesome. The map itself is okay, but it has some flaws. The map features a giant lane down the middle that snipers use to full advantage much like the bridge points in Cliffside. Capturing the B flag in Domination just makes you pray that the 2 or 3 snipers on the other team have bad aim. Smoke grenades are definitely recommended.
Attack at the DRIVE-IN
The last multiplayer map is “Drive-in.” This was somewhat disappointing map to me, it was compared to “Nuketown” because it is small size. “Nuketown” is a map that a lot of people love, myself included, so I was excited to see another map where I could rush around on the edge all the time. Unfortunately, “Drive-in” failed to do this at all. “Drive-in” is a small map, but 80% of it is open space in the middle of the map. This means the majority of players will be avoiding this area as much as possible, constricting the action to the sides. The way they set up the buildings promotes camping and “safe” gameplay, which is a complete turnaround from “Nuketown.” The map also suffers from the typical grey/brown color scheme that Treyarch is known for, which is something that people adore “Nuketown” for. Simply put, “Drive-in” didn’t live up to its “Nuketown” comparisons.
Obliterate the ZOMBIES
The new Zombies offering is called “Shangri-la.” While they opted not to go over the top with a full story and cast of celebrities like Call of the Dead, Treyarch still was able to put a ton of creativity and different features to make this a fun Zombies experience. The map takes place in a jungle environment and a temple. As you progress farther and farther into it, more secrets open up and you find ancient caverns, traps, and contraptions. Maneuvering through these traps makes this map a daunting task. “Shangri-la” is also extremely narrow, so players who rely on the circular strategy will have a lot of trouble on their hands. To make matters worse, Treyarch has introduced two new zombies that show up periodically, Screamer and Napalm. The napalm zombie is very difficult to kill and will eventually explode, whose splash damage will kill you if you are too close, and the screamer zombie is very fast and will blind you. You will also have monkeys who want to steal your bonus rewards, but you can also gamble and turn a lackluster reward like the hammer into double points or insta-kill, making strategy very important in these situations. This is a very difficult map, but it is great looking, and is as fun as any other Zombies map to date as long as you are in a party (it can get frustrating without one). Also, don’t count on getting to the Pack a Punch machine with random people online. Teamwork is essential.
I for one don’t feel like this map pack is worth its price tag. Drop 10 bucks and lose “Drive-In” and “Silo” and maybe we can talk. I find myself opting out of the new maps when given the choice in the Lobby. Boo, Treyarch. Boo.