Well, once again it’s time to slip into my well worn try-hard pants and tackle the latest offering from Activision and Treyarch. Named Vengeance; as per usual, it incorporates four multiplayer maps and an all new zombie experience. With an upgraded version of the Ray Gun, cunningly named the Ray Gun Mark II and an old fan favourite map reimagined from the original Black Ops, this could well be yet another success.
Cove, an abandoned island smack bang in the middle of the Indian Ocean is the setting for our first multiplayer outing. A relatively circular map, centred around a crashed airplane, of which should be a campers paradise, yet instead the smashed cockpit frames our would be target finding banes making them easy prey. Without too many head-glitch spots, gameplay is fairly fast paced, domination leading the charge for frantic spawn flips, with each team vying for map control. Search and Destroy works surprisingly well considering it’s easily one of the larger maps on the game; yet with many side routes into the opposite spawn, getting the drop on your enemies happens much more regularly. Plus, don’t forget to look out to sea for a cheeky glimpse of a familiar sight…
Detour is a multi-tiered, predominantly decimated suspension bridge. Complete with wrecked cars, exploitable flanks and height advantages to be wary of. Reminiscent of maps of yore, Detour feels very gunfight orientated as opposed to Hijack or Aftermath. Gunfights are not necessarily won or lost due to twitch reactions, cover is plentiful and feels more natural. Even after taking a couple of hits, it’s very possible to come out of cover swinging and proceed to win the engagement. Due to it’s end to end, almost narrow nature, slipping into a comatose state of inattentional blindness can be fatal. Many adjoining paths can lead to the unwary falling prey to a spawn trap because of this.
Rush, the already famed paintball map seems to be the fan favourite in terms of map selection votes so far. Incorporating many play styles into one setting has proven effective, there is an upper walkway perfect for rushing with shotguns or securing a line of sight with an assault rifle. On the opposite side nestles the paintball arena, full of bags even FMJ rounds from an LMG cannot pierce through, leading to tense cover to cover sprints. A lurking campers’ haven, many players get ganked from a suppressed SMG around here. Unlike most conventional maps, the middle sees the least action despite it’s relative openness, instead most people favour the to and fro of controlling the indestructible bean bag room. A distinctively colourful warzone, Rush feels akin to Grind, the skate park map from the Revolution DLC, the paintball scenario let’s the palette flow with spatters of red and green gracing the battlefield.
Uplink, another adaptation of one of Black Ops most loved maps, Summit. Artistically, Uplink has clearly received some loving. Not only does it now actually resemble a high-tech facility, it also comes across a little foreboding and steeped in mystery. The dark atmosphere transforms it completely and makes it easily the most visually arresting map on the game. For anyone who’s had the pleasure, Uplink is almost identical to Summit, all the tricks and tips you remember are still here. The annoying crane you can make a leap of faith to, still presents it’s threats from spinning lunatics with snipers, rushing the opposing teams spawn at the start still ends in tears for me and clambering to the upper catwalks on the ‘B flag’ to lurk menacingly still catches people off guard.
Buried is the latest zombie experience on offer, probably one of the more difficult maps to get to grips with; not necessarily the largest either. Several new toys to play with can make your Western adventure go a little easier however. New weapons include the upgraded Ray Gun, an old school revolver and even a way to fly…sort of. Tagging along on your quest to the highest possible rounds is your new alcoholic and candy loving hick. Feed him some booze or sweets to smash walls, grab zombies, fetch the mystery box etc. experimentation is very much encouraged. Pretty much starting off with the LSAT gives you an idea of how hairy some of the situations can get on Buried however, narrow streets can/will be your downfall! As per we all expected, the major Easter egg is a nightmare to complete even with a cooperative zombie felling team, yet the rewards are worth it! Perhaps not quite as exciting in terms of design choices for me as Mob of the Dead on the Uprising DLC but still unique enough to lose your life for a few weeks!
A stellar performance on the multiplayer maps front this time around, there genuinely isn’t a map here that I wouldn’t vote for in the rotation; I’m eager to get back to playing some of the more intensive game types once most people have them. Buried will be another great addition to the train fans too. The only issue being, is that they spoiled us with the first DLC and the Peacekeeper; without another cheeky weapon to play with asides the slew of artillery available on zombies, it can at times feel a little disappointing. Vengeance honourably feels as though the developers have listened to what people want out of the new maps: variety, colour and less camping spots; they’ve listened and best of all, acted upon it.
Reviewed on PS3, also available on Xbox 360 and PC.