Call of Duty: Black Ops II Uprising DLC (Xbox 360) Review

This past week Activision released its second set of downloadable content (DLC) for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 called “Uprising”.  For those of you who have a Seasons Pass, you merely need to head over to the download screen and start the rather lengthy process of downloading this ‘beefy’ pack of content.   For the rest of you, Uprising will cost you 1200 Microsoft Points.  Included in Treyarch’s latest DLC drop are four new multiplayer maps and a new Zombies level, which takes place on Alcatraz Island, ‘Mob of the Dead’.  As an added bonus, you also get a slick little intro video where Chaz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Joe Pantoliano and Ray Liotta star as Alcatraz Inmates looking to bust their way off the island.   With the exception of this bonus featurette, Uprising is pretty standard Call of Duty DLC in terms of what you get and price point; so I have to admit, I wasn’t exactly sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for this DLC to drop.  Yet after some extended playtime it appears as though the team at Treyarch have once against managed to crank out some solid DLC and bring enough new to the table keep the Call of Duty faithful happy for yet another few more months until the next set of DLC touches down.

After I waited for what seemed like an eternity for the DLC to finish downloading, I immediately jumped into a game of Domination.  The first map I played was “Vertigo” which takes place atop of a high rise skyscraper in India.  It is a small-to-medium sized map but this didn’t stop the barrage of players running around with sniper rifles.  Out of all the new maps Vertigo was sadly my least favorite.  Sure the futuristic looking setting with the neat looking helipad area offered up a battle ground slightly different from the rest of the pack, but overall I found the visuals somewhat drab and this map just had too much of a ‘been there and done that’ feeling.  While there is a central indoor area, I spent most of my time outdoors where you have to be careful not to fall off the side of the high rise.  It is certainly a balanced map, but at the end of the day I was left a little underwhelmed with Vertigo.

Next up was “Encore” which is set at a large outdoor amphitheater in London by the Thames River.  It is very similar to the Stadium map from the first Black Ops game but it is much more detailed and offers plenty of avenues of attack.  This map features a large concert stage, bleachers, indoor concession stand, sound booths, forklifts, vending machines and even garbage containers that separate recycling from garbage.  In the distance there is even a large Ferris wheel (The London Eye) which provides a nice little backdrop.  I was impressed with level of detail in this map and certainly enjoyed some of the frantic multiplayer action as many battles take place at close quarters.  I found it to be a smaller map that yielded some high kill counts, yet all in all Encore was a blast.

I then spent some time on the map called “Magma” which is the largest of the new maps.  This map takes place in a Japanese village that has been ravaged by a volcano.  Lava and magma can be seen floating in all areas of the map and this magma presents a hazard you need to avoid when making your way through some areas that are just a little too close for comfort.  Much like Encore, the surrounding environment is impressive.  Even the burning Japanese huts and crippled subway trains look impressive.  It is an enjoyable map and one where you need to be equipped with a weapon that has some decent long-range capacity.  Snipers had a field day in the games I jumped into and Magma was a map that consistently generated the most votes in the lobby of the rooms I was in.

The last of the 4-multiplayer maps, “Studio”, is somewhat of a re-tread, but re-imagined might be a better description.  Regardless, it easily offers up the most eye candy.  Studio has the same layout as Firing Range from the original Black Ops game; however, this time the map takes place in a Hollywood studio film lot.  Crates and plywood buildings are located throughout along with a UFO on the side of a building, a large Jurassic Park-like Dinosaur, and a mini city where you can feel like King Kong all over again.  Just like Firing Range, Studio is a smaller sized map where the bulk of the action takes place in the center.  Given the majority of gamers were already familiar with the map many Black Ops veterans simply dominated in the map.  As I was just getting back into the groove of things I must have died 10 times in a row before I picked up my first kill.  Despite this I still found this map to be a treat to play in and I enjoyed all the props located throughout.

For those of you who enjoy Zombie Mode, this new DLC includes a new zombie level called “Mob of the Dead”.  But this is not just any zombie level as prior to actually launching into a game, some popular characters from action and gangster movies make their presence known.  As noted earlier, Chaz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Joe Pantoliano and Ray Liotta all appear in the opening cut scene as animated characters.  You also get some Johnny Cash playing in the background, which was a nice touch.  Bottomline, it is an entertaining little featurette as the mobsters try to make their way out of the zombie infested Alcatraz prison.  Once the movie is over,you immediately jump into the action, but at first you start out as a ghost.  Your first task is to find your character and revive him.  Once you find him that familiar CoD Zombie jingle tune plays and that is your cue it is showtime.  The prison itself is a pretty cool re-creation of Alcatraz.  The only exception to the accuracy is that zombies have thrashed the jail.  What I enjoyed the most about this zombie mode was that while it is still punishing you are granted extra life, per se, when you die.  When the zombies eat you, you take over a ghostly figure where your goal now shifts to reviving your character or “shocking” whatever you can.  Without giving too much away, your goal is to escape the prison by finding airplane parts scattered throughout so you can build a plane and fly off the island.  Of course there is never an end and the zombies keep coming at you in waves.  Once again, it is tense and frantic, but captivating and a blast to play with buddies.

There is no question I consider myself a Call of Duty fan, but I am no longer that hardcore online CoD gamer I was once as I find I just don’t have the time to prestige my character over and over like I did in the past.  This being said, I found the new multiplayer maps to be good bang for the buck.  Those that enjoy slaying zombies will also enjoy what ‘Mob of the Dead’ has to offer.  The Uprising DLC is certainly not the most innovative piece of DLC we have seen from Activision, but it certainly follows a successful formula and manages to bring in enough new to the table to keep the CoD faithful happy until the next batch of new maps drop.

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