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Call Of Duty: Black Ops Escalation Review

by on May 6, 2011

Downloadable content is big business these days, giving fans even more game to enjoy, elongating the experience with new missions, map packs, and sometimes even entire new experiences that lead into the next game in the series! The Call of Duty franchise has long been a constant source of output when it comes to map packs, and Black Ops looks to be no different.

For Black Ops however, Activision are also releasing new content for the much-loved Zombie mode. In the case of Escalation they have assembled a star-studded cast, including the master of horror himself George A. Romero and cult favourites like Danny Trejo. At 1,200 Microsoft Points, is the Escalation add-on worth your money?

When you first jump into Call of the Dead (a fabulous play on the two famous franchise titles) you might actually be rather confused. At least you certainly will be if you, like our ragtag bunch of GodisaGeek friends and colleagues, start shooting at the ghostly apparition coming out of the freezing water in the game’s Siberian tundra surroundings. Doing so will cause Mr Romero (respect due!) to go, frankly, apeshit at you, chasing you around the environment and attacking you!

It turns out though, that Mr Romero (who in this incarnation, looks frighteningly like Stan Lee circa his Mallrats appearance) can actually be used to your advantage, if you (sensibly) decide not to start shooting at him willy-nilly. George A. Romero doesn’t like being shot in the head, who’d have thought it?

Let’s back up a little. You play as one of the four cast members (Danny Trejo, Sarah-Michelle Gellar, Robert Englund, Michael Rooker) who are on-set to star in a movie! Something has gone wrong however, and now the undead are walking the earth, and George A. Romero is wandering around in gigantic form, swinging wildly at anyone who gets in his way!

Mechanically, Call of the Dead plays like the Zombie mode we all know and love, but the wandering Romero makes for some interesting additions. If you accidentally anger him (by shooting him) then he will chase you, but this isn’t always a bad thing. If he has a crowd of Zombies around him, angering him will work in your favour, giving you vital breathing time away from the oncoming hordes before he himself attacks you. Thankfully, you can calm him down by leading him to water. He’ll give chase until you do, so you are better off doing it quickly!

There are ziplines leading from the two main areas and it is absolutely hilarious to see a ghostly enlarged version of George A. Romero sliding down a zipline giving chase to your fleeing compadres! All in all, Call of the Dead is a fantastic addition to the Zombie mode, so if you love playing that, Call of the Dead is probably worth the admission price alone!

Call of the Dead isn’t the only part of Escalation however, you’ll also get four new competitive multiplayer maps to enjoy in the form of Hotel, Convoy, Stockpile and Zoo.

As with any of the Call of Duty multiplayer modes, you’ll need to commit time to playing the new maps in order to master them otherwise you’ll end up getting destroyed. The new maps themselves are of the high quality you would expect. Hotel contains a fun idea in the form of an elevator, and people who have played competitors like Bad Company 2 will love being able to use the lift as an abusive weapon. Stockpile is a sniper’s paradise, and Zoo is generally just a fun jaunt, with naturally occurring variation due to the “Zoo” environment. Rounding off the new maps is Convoy, which looks more like a scene from Homefront than Black Ops, but is all the better for the change of colour palette.

VERDICT: If you don’t like the Zombie mode, then it might be hard to justify 1,200 Microsoft Points for four new multiplayer maps unless you play Black Ops a hell of a lot. On the other hand, Call of the Dead is a fantastic addition to the overall package, and a superb alternative to the competitive multiplayer that requires a lot of time to perform well in.

Whilst slightly pricey, this Escalation pack ends up being altogether essential for Black Ops players, offering something for everyone, and containing a star-studded, high budget add-on to the Zombie mode.

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