Until now, i’ve never splashed out on additional Call of Duty content.  I’ve won a couple from various competitions and had the chance to try them out on friend’s consoles, but never felt compelled to pay.  That’s not a comment on the pricing scheme; as a software developer I’m often first amongst my friends to advocate the remuneration they deserve for their work, I just never wanted any of the items on offer. As my father used to say “it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay for it”, and in this case I wasn’t willing to pay.

So what changed with Revolution? More to the point, what suddenly drove me to go one step further and part with £34 for the Season Pass? Simply put, Call of Duty has finally brought something interesting to the table and I’m ready to talk.

Vive la Révolution?

Hydro

Hydro, set to the backdrop of a large hydroelectric dam facility, mixes familiarity and simplicity with a unique and dangerous twist, to provide the most accessible map in the DLC pack.

The map has players fighting it out across three principle channels of combat largely focused on close quarter encounters.

The main combat zone for this map is the center kill box. This has lots of cover points and two raised structures for players to provide over watch.  Snipers will find no love here, though, as there are plenty of obstacles to break line of sight.  It’s made even more dangerous and exposed with the threat of enemies popping up from tunnels below.

The two tunnel areas are largely similar, allowing movement across the top and bottom of the map.  The top corridor houses giant turbines and connects to the lower section of the map, enabling players to slip past the action undetected.  Conversely, the bottom houses two opposing buildings and a flood gate opening. This provides a number of cover points, but also exposes players to the fallout from combat in the elevated middle section.

It’s here, however, that the deadly twist to Hydro is revealed. The lower area will randomly flood with water – after a clear warning over the loudspeakers – killing anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the waves of water that come crashing through the map.  It appears Treyarch were trying to use this as a mechanic to force players into the center,  but the warning is too clear, too early and the flood itself too short to necessitate a drastic change in plan to re-route. Simply waiting it out in cover for a few seconds is sufficient for survival.

None of the maps in Revolution are particularly large, and Hydro reflects this claustrophobic theme as the tunnels are interconnected and give players opportunity to quickly change direction, spring up in the middle of the map, or slip behind to the enemy spawn. Players will need to keep their wits about them as they can easily be ambushed from any direction.

Aesthetically, it’s the most similar to the look and feel of the vanilla maps, with lots of stone and grey tones, and will be the map that players will become acclimatised to the quickest due to its symmetrical layout.  It’s a great way to get player’s feet wet with the new DLC and as long as they use the symmetry of the map to their advantage by not taking the obvious hiding spot or routes, they should best their enemy with ease.

Rating: 4/5

BlackOps2-revolution3

Grind

Grind, a skate park set against the backdrop of sunny California, is my favorite map of the Revolution pack.  The bright colours of the ramps and skater decals, coupled with nostalgia for anyone who’s played any of the Tony Hawks games growing up, paints a stark contrast to what players actually find themselves doing on the map. Killing everything in sight.

Much like Hydro, the map is split into three combat channels, two outer areas broken up with various cover points – though not to an extent that a sniper can’t find a decent place to roost – and an inner area separated into a higher and lower area.

Once more, this inner area serves as a highly dangerous kill box, but the outer corridors are not the safe alternative channel players might think. Whilst the map is built on a clear incline, the various ramps and stands littered outside break this, enabling players on the low end to actually find some makeshift high ground over their opponents, adding an extra level of verticality to the map.

Similarly, the map breaks from the norm of fighting amongst hard edges and walls to now being surrounded with curved ramps and steep drops. Naturally, this changes player’s movement around the map.  Taking cover against a wall now means a player is going to be higher up, and thus an easier target.  Furthermore, grenades roll around the map and an ill-conceived throw can mean disastrous consequences, especially on Hardcore.

Wherever a player is on Grind, they’re exposed from many angles, and for the more observant Call of Duty player, there are a couple of spots where a sentry gun can be placed to drastically limit an enemy’s ability to manoeuvre around the map.  Players can easily be caught out by a hidden hallway off to their side or an enemy lurking amongst the many vivid obstacles cluttering the scenery. That’s what makes this map such a joy to play.  Players are going to need to keep their wits about them and think on vertical as well as horizontal planes.

Rating: 5/5

Grind-Screen-Shot-2

Downhill

Downhill, a snow covered ski lodge with lifts, nestled somewhere in the Alps, is a medium sized map and probably the most unrelenting in the Revolution package. It gives no opportunity for players to rest from the action across its three distinctly different combat zones – the close quarters ski lift building, the exposed centre area and the raised ski lodge.

The ski lodge is perhaps the most perilous area on the map, with the lodge overlooking a series of rocks that creates crevices for players to weave in and out of, while also allowing them to hide in amongst the bushes.  The lodge can be well defended by a couple of skilled players, seeing them cut down anyone passing through the area, and the hiding spots ensure that anyone other than the most cautious players will find an enemy easily gets the drop on them.

The centre area provides a quick path across the map, but comes with almost no cover. Anyone that doesn’t want to make their way through the ski lifts or the rocky formations stands a high chance of being dispatched by a sniper in one of the surrounding buildings.  It’s a gamble sprinting through and a well-coordinated team can control the flow of battle by limiting enemy movement through this area, forcing them to re-route.

The ski lift building cements the unforgiving nature of this map with a close quarters indoor environment that takes a leaf out of Hydro’s book. This comes in the form of the cable cars themselves.  Periodically, the cars will pass through the map and instantly kill anyone caught in their path.  This makes for some tense movement across the building as players are looking for enemy combatants while also trying to navigate safely between the cars.

Downfall is a nice addition to the overall package and contrasts the pace of maps like Grind and Hydro.  Each area of the map lends itself to a particular weapon class and you’ll need a diverse team or set of custom load outs to dominate the snowy retreat.

Rating: 5/5

map-c

Mirage

Mirage, a former resort destroyed by a sandstorm, is the largest of the maps in Revolution and presents an enjoyable mix of open area and close quarter engagements.

The interior area, split over two levels, is the centre of the map. The route across the top is cluttered with cars, and a burnt out bus provides plenty of opportunities for players with close quarter weapons to dominate.

However, it’s the open areas that really bring this map to life.  The damage caused by the sandstorm and resultant impact on the environment means players’ll be adjusting their aim as they move across the various mounds and dips in the sand.  This adds an extra level of tension to unexpected engagements as players frantically try to compensate for the uneven surface and difference in elevation.

Furthermore, the makeshift ramps create access to higher points on the map in the form of old roof tops and balconies, creating a number of easily defendable positions overlooking the pool and surrounding buildings.

Mirage’s size makes for a refreshing change of pace in the Revolution map pack. In a map pack filled with areas designed for, at best, mid-range combat, Mirage perfectly accommodates Ground War playlists. The way the map designers have used natural damage to augment an already diverse structure provides enough variety that all play styles will find their niche amongst the sand.

Rating: 4/5

bo2-mirage

Die Rise

Revolution is no different to past DLC packs in providing a cursory nod to the multiplayer distraction that is Zombies, this time in the form of the Die Rise map.  It’s quite rare for someone to purchase a DLC pack exclusively for the Zombies expansion, especially with the £10 price tag, but Revolution makes the best case for someone to do just that.

I’ve not spent an inordinate amount of time with Zombies over the years, but in writing this review, I’ve dedicated the last few nights cutting through legions of the undead with randomers.  I say this only to highlight that, quite unexpectedly, I’m excited to get home this evening and jump back into Die Rise for a few hours. More than any other mode offered in Revolution.

Die Rise introduces a sense of verticality to the mode. Zombies climb up from lower ledges and drop down from holes in the ceiling – not too dissimilar from the bus segments in Green Run.  However, this verticality also extends to the player. All too often, I found myself falling to my doom from the ledge of dilapidated skyscrapers as I recklessly tried to avoid being eaten.

As with any Zombies map, experimentation reaps great rewards, and having the confidence to jump between buildings is a great way to get out of a tight spot and alter a player’s chance of survival.  Pink mattresses litter the landscape as a visual indicator there’s an area players can jump towards. This leap of faith mechanic serves as a unique twist to a very claustrophobic map.  The skyscrapers are comprised of a series of very tight, disorientating corridors, and it’s very easy to become trapped until a player learns the layout by heart.

This is the map I’ve had most fun with, due largely to the improvised sport of “Zombie Tossing”. This involves players using the new spring trap to fling zombies with extreme force, seeing how far they can fly.

Rating: 4/5

Call-of-Duty-Black-Ops-2-Revolution

Turned

Even spending the smallest amount of time with Revolution, it’s evident to see the amount of thought that’s gone into the content. Unfortunately, the new Zombies game mode, Turned, lets the rest of the pack down.  I don’t like to deal in extremes, but while the entire package shouldn’t be reprimanded for the inclusion of this poorly thought out mode, nobody would really miss it.

Games start with a mad dash to find “the cure” – a syringe hidden somewhere on the map – to ascertain who will be the survivor. Once determined, the other players remain in a zombified state.  At this point, it becomes very similar to Halo’s Juggernaut mode, wherein the zombified players must hunt down and kill the survivor.  Should a zombified player manage to do this, they will switch places with the survivor. The victor is then given a chance at seeing how long they can survive.  If they fail, however, the survivor is given an upgraded weapon for each kill, much like in Gun Game.  After 10 minutes whoever lasts longest, wins.

This is where the game mode falls apart, though. The Zombies are far too fast and as the mode is limited to the very small Diner map, it’s impossible to last more than a few seconds. Furthermore, it detracts from any sense of accomplishment if you do manage to survive, as it feels more like blind luck than any apparent skill.

Turned misses out on a prime opportunity to allow the survivor to frustrate their opponents with arrogance and dominance, creating more incentive to hunt them down, rather than just the desire to win.

Rating: 0/5

TURNED-Game-Mode-Black-Ops-2

Playlists & Hardpoint

From the outset, players wishing to dedicate their time to the new content will have a choice of  Team Deathmatch, Domination and Moshpit playlists.  Currently, there is no Hardcore option available, but the maps regularly pop up among the vanilla content in other modes.

Unfortunately, the Hardpoint game mode has proven rather elusive and I’ve only had a handful of matches. What I’ve played, however, has been enjoyable.  It’s your typical King of the Hill affair, with an ever changing, randomly selected point on the map assigning points to the team that can hold it the longest.  The tension of knowing enemies are barrelling down on a player’s position is ever present and it’s nice to see this mode added to the roster keeping things fresh.

Rating: 3/5

Peacekeeper SMG

The new Peacekeeper serves as a sort of hybrid SMG, combining the CQB capabilities of the class with the range of an assault rifle. However, the recoil will ensure only the sturdiest of hands will find success in long distance shots.

Treyarch took a big risk including a gun with the DLC; make it too weak,  it devalues the overall package and people feel ripped off; make it too strong and Treyarch cross into “pay to win” territory.  Thankfully the Peacekeeper feels like just another gun in the roster; a tool that’s only as good as the person wielding it.  If players find themselves up against the fire rate of the Skorpion EVO, headshots aside, they don’t stand a chance.  Similarly, a sniper’s going to make quick work of dispatching a player if they stick their head out.

A decent fire rate, damage output and both short and mid-range capabilities make the Peacekeeper a clear favourite for the scale of  maps in the Revolution package.  It’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” SMG and, preferences aside, a competent Call of Duty player will soon recognize situations in which it excels and have it ready to fall back on.

Rating: 5/5

black-ops-2-peacekeeper-review

Summary

A great deal of thought and variety has gone into the Revolution DLC package – that much is evident. I went all in and bought the Season Pass, confident that Treyarch will continue to deliver. As far as I’m concerned, they’re now top dogs for the Call of Duty franchise.

The series is experiencing a second wind with Black Ops II, and while I wouldn’t describe this pack as a Revolution, it continues the trend of delivering quality material that perfectly blends new ideas and existing conventions.  Simply put, Revolution sets a precedent for how map packs should be done.

 

FINAL RATING: 4.5/5

Black Ops 2 is available now