You'll have fun with Hotel when messing around with the elevators in the centre of the map. Call a lift down, pop a claymore inside it and send it back where it came from - laughs a plenty when people get exploded as they investigate after the doors whoosh open. But people will get used to that after a week, and everyone will just avoid the spot like so many of those stereotypical DLC gimmick additions which came before it.
My problem with Hotel, however, is that it feels too much like work. There are far too many elevated positions that are easily locked down, thus encouraging people to camp out in little clumps. It feels like Treyarch is falling down a little here, over-designing their maps around this idea they need to justify the DLC asking price with impressive geometric constructions.
Stockpile will go down well with cowardly snipers; it seems to be the most capable faraway blaster included in the pack provided you're nimble enough to move locations between shots. The tumble-down environment is constructed with lots of little buildings framing a larger construction in the centre, and the location of capture point B if you're playing in Domination. Just like the city of Rome, all roads lead to B, so as you get to grips with the environment you'll end up there without even realising it. None of the other houses have particularly stunning lines of sight, but are mostly used for overlooking the areas housing the other two capture points.
The map seems to be too much of a clusterfudge if you're inside of B but, conversely, too barren when you're outside of it. Stockpile is the kind of map where you'll dart about for a few seconds before throwing caution to the wind, blowing the dust off your shotgun build and blazing around the map like there's no tomorrow. Which, if my general performance is currently any indication, there probably won't be.
Moving on, then, and we'll detour through Zoo. This isn't one of those, you know, fun zoos with animals. No, it's a desolate abandoned zoo squeezed through Treyarch's very finest desaturated grime filter. I don't know why every map in Escalation needs to look like the environments have had any noticeable sense of warmth or joy completely sapped out of them, but Zoo is even more depressing to look at than Carnival from Modern Warfare 2.
There's a miserly monorail and a wretched jungle environment to spark things up a bit, but it's an even browner experience than Gears of War boiled down to its maximum concentration. The monorail offers little tactical advantage and leaves you completely and utterly exposed, but that doesn't seem to stop everybody rushing for it from the word go. It's quite a lot of fun poking your way through all the bedraggled attractions, however, and the map has been decently constructed so it zips along at a nice rhythm. Zoo looks ugly but leaves a nice impression.
Convoy is my personal favourite. The map employs the series' most immediate vignette - that of a destroyed suburban America - and mixes it with Black Ops' tableaux of sixties Cold War fears. Strewn across the Californian map is a wrecked missile convoy, with the expensive ordinance itself scattered along its roadside, and the colour palette is infinitely more versatile than most of the other offerings on show.
You ferret around twisting gas stations, motels, and mom and pop's diners in a bid to either get towards or away from a central highway, a deadly environment in itself with elongated passageways and deep reaching lines of sight. Convoy is one of Black Ops' most balanced maps to date, accommodating the aggressive desires of churlish AK-74u ruffians and the self-protective needs of sedentary longshotters.
There are still a few too many gimmicks in Escalation for my tastes - Stockpile's garage doors are very much Escalation's useless ziplines - but there's plenty of variety on offer, and the quintet of new competitive maps will slot extremely nicely into the broader rotation. Call of the Dead is an interesting addition, too, and despite not capitalising on the full potential of the cast it's still a noticeable and enjoyable change in pace from what's come before.