Like so many of Black Ops' maps, Hangar 18 designates a key central area - in this case a SR-71 Blackbird - and spirals the rest of the map out from this vital location. A group working together can secure the Blackbird and essentially lock down the map, but the chances of seeing this happen in a public match are virtually impossible.
Each side initially spawns next to their own sniping spot, which overlooks a good chunk of the level, and SMG users will likely flock to the airplane hangar to frantically hip fire at one another over and over again until somebody wins. Hangar 18 is solid if unspectacular, and while it's nicely designed (and I certainly enjoy the colour palate at work) it doesn't particularly excite.
And then there's the compulsory Zombies map: this time we're in Shangri-La, the mythical, hidden, and fictional Asian valley. Shangri-La feels immediately standard compared to Escalation's Call of the Dead, which had your team being chased around by an undead George Romero, and it's a very familiar style of map, though one with more restrictive corridors than most, with the traditional Zombies quartet.
New features include water slides, mine carts, and the entertaining 31-79 JGb215, a Wonder Weapon which can shrink zombies. There's a new shrieking zombie, which blinds players, and the more dangerous napalm zombie, which explodes violently upon death and slows the movement of players when nearby.
Like Call of the Dead, Shangri-La contains a long and complex bonus quest involving a lunar eclipse, time travel, and Richtofen trying to harness the power of a shrunken meteorite. It's very difficult to pull off (and I haven't) but certainly a tempting test of skill for Zombies fans.
Annihilation is more than a simple map pack, of course - it's a map pack for the most successful video game of all time, released just a couple of weeks before Activision starts publicly trialling Elite, Call of Duty's latest online gambit with optional subscription features. With map packs making up a large chunk of Elite's subscription appeal, millions of eyes are currently using Treyarch's current performance to judge whether or not Elite will be a success in the future.
For the present, though, these are another batch of consistently entertaining maps built on the solid bedrock of sprawling architectural foundations.
VideoGamer.com Score7 Score out of 10
- Good range of maps
- Inventive design
- Silo is too big
- Price is expensive