You kind of get the feeling with the latest Black Ops II DLC, Uprising, that the developers are betraying a yearning for video game days of yore, when fighting through lava pits and exploring wild colourful surroundings were the norm, rather than the exception. And who can blame them? Black Ops II was a bit more futuristic at least, but it was still a gritty jaunt through dilapidated buildings filled with the relentless slaughter of terrorists threatening our way of life, blah blah yadda yadda. Uprising feels like it was made on the days when the 'horrible oligarchic' boss wasn’t in, so Treyarch decided to have a bit of fun, a little bit like how animators will sometimes stick in subliminal rude pictures in Disney films.
Describing how it plays is worthless, because everyone apart from my Grandma (who is dead) has played Call of Duty, so you all know that. Uprising’s attraction is in its map design, and how it departs from the straight-faced bombast of the campaign and its original maps. They’ve also added a new zombie mode called Mob of the Dead. Actually let’s talk about that first.
Remember Geist on the Gamecube? No of course you don’t, no one bought that. In it you played a ghost that could only physically interact with the environment by possessing enemy soldiers. F.E.A.R 3 did the same kind of thing too with its co-op character Paxton Fettel. Anyhoo, Mob of the Dead does the same sort of thing, focussing as it does on four recently deceased mobsters voiced by Michael Madsen, Joe Pantoliano, Chazz Palminteri and Ray Liotta (no Joe Mantegna though, which made me do a sad face), trying to escape Alcatraz amidst a zombie outbreak. They get killed soon afterwards, because they’re useless, but are able to float around as spirits, zapping zombies and charging up item dispensers with ethereal ghostly lightning. You can also repossess your body in order to take on the revenant horde via more old fashioned, lead based means. It’s enjoyable enough, even if it’s only really mildly diverting, and hearing a bunch of Brooklyn Wise guys cussing their way through it is a nice touch, even if the actually zombie killing itself is lacking in impact compared to other more dedicated monster blasters.
The new maps themselves, as previously stated, are different from the norm. Encore stands out immediately, seeing as it’s set just down the road on the Thames. It has a rock concert theme, with a litany of London landmarks in the background including the Shard, looming overhead like some terrifying Clive Barker-esque monolith. Magma’s set in Tokyo during a volcanic eruption, so not only do you have students and warhappy Americans to fear, but also LAVA. It’s more hellish than Dante’s Inferno. Vertigo’s set on a high building, so naturally falling to your death is a common occurrence.
The best map by a mile though is Studio a remix of Black Ops' Firing Range. It's a merry murderous jaunt through a film studio backlot, with miniature cities, dinosaur animatronics poking through fences and War of the Worlds style walkers bleeping about. It’s all purely aesthetic and doesn’t really add anything, but it’s a nice change from the usual Call of Duty backdrops, and vaguely reminiscent of the level in Bulletstorm where Grayson Hunt first encounters Waggleton P Tallylicker, only not as good obviously, because Bulletstorm was fantastic.
So four nice looking new maps and a new zombie horde mode with some proper actors. Worth the 1200 points? Unsure. Yes, it’s nice to roam around some more escapist, atypical environs, but 1200 points obviously isn’t cheap for what’s offered. They aren’t really interactive either. Apologies for going all ‘wouldn’t it be nice if you could talk to the monsters’ for a minute, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could set the animatronic dinosaur on the meddlesome insurgents in the opposing team? Wouldn’t it also be jolly good fun, to manipulate the lava flow and revel in the ashes of your enemies as they’re engulfed by a tide of scorching magma? The kids would love it.
Whatever. It’s nice that the developers get to play around a little through these map packs and let off some steam, and as they stand, these maps and the Mob of the Dead mode are engaging deviations from the jingoism and machismo, but is it not also a shame that developers are reduced to using map packs to go a bit hog wild, rather than hedging their bets on something new? Hmmm.
Version Tested: Xbox 360