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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Vengeance DLC review for Xbox 360

Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Medium: Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes
ESRB: M

The newest Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 DLC dubbed Vengeance hit Xbox Live last week, and I’ve spent some time since the release checking out the four new multiplayer maps and new Zombies map “Buried”. I’m not as enthused about this release as I was the previous pack, I thought Mob of the Dead was a pretty great addition to the existing Zombies mode, a mode that up until that point I had never cared much about. But I will say that Vengeance features a stronger map set than the DLC prior, including the remake of Summit from the original Black Ops, now called Uplink.

These four maps aren’t reliant on any of the environmental gimmicks that Treyarch has tried to shoehorn in with the past two map packs, instead focusing more on interesting line of sight, cover, and layout mechanics. It’s a good decision on their part, with the only weak map featured here being Detour, which is fairly similar to most split level maps we’ve already seen in Call of Duty many times before. But the other three, Rush, Cove and Uplink, are really solid additions to the roster.

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Rush seems to be the standout amongst those three though, often being voted in and then voted again in just about every lobby I’ve played so far. It features an interior paintball arena surrounded by an exterior area on three sides, with an entrance to the arena on each side as well. It’s a difficult spot to lock down, without a lot of benefit for doing so, but makes for excellent space to run the length of the map due to all the cover found on the inside. Spawn camping is less viable here due to the fact that most teams won’t struggle moving across the map, making spawns more dynamic and varied than usual.

Cove is a pretty fun map as well, I wasn’t initially big on it but it’s certainly grown on me the more I’ve played. It’s essentially a small island that you can run around the length of on its beaches, or through the middle of the map. There are a lot of rock outcroppings that serve as cover around the edges of the map, with a small, downed aircraft which spills into the center of the map with three different entrances, making it a pretty active spot for either team. There’s not much use or benefit found for sticking to the middle of the map that I’ve seen so far, with most kills coming from the edges. With a dedicated group pushing across the edge all the way around, you can come up with a pretty hefty kill streak provided you’re paying attention to all the cover and hiding spots scattered about.

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Uplink is the remake map of this pack, taking Summit from the original Black Ops and updating it quite a bit. My memory of Summit is honestly pretty hazy, as it’s been some time since I played multiplayer in the original Black Ops. But Uplink has a pretty great layout, with lots of interior/exterior locations to run through, including some small routes on the edges of the map heading from one spawn area to the next. There’s a few primary routes throughout the map that tend to get jammed with players, making Uplink feel like a quick map in Team Deathmatch. You’ll also see a decent variety in elevation, but not a lot of clear sight lines for snipers.

Detour, the only one that I’m not too enthused about, takes place on a partially collapsed bridge featuring a route that runs underneath the bridge with a few spots to run up to the top. There’s a lot of cover on the top of the bridge, including some hazardous vehicles that can turn deadly if you tend to stick too close to something for too long. But by and large this map is sort of boring, and feels a lot like a shrunken down version of Carrier from the core group of maps included in Black Ops 2.

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The new addition to Zombies found in the Vengeance pack, Buried, isn’t anywhere close to the level of quality found in Mob of the Dead. It takes place in an underground old-west town, and while the presentation is handled well, with a sort of old-west motif found in the HUD and starting weapon, it doesn’t flow nearly as well as Mob of the Dead. Unless you’re rolling with a dedicated group of players you’ll not make a lot of progress here with random people, and the objectives feel a lot less clear this time around. The mutant hillbilly that roams the town isn’t particularly interesting or exciting in addition to the standard zombie slaying, and all in all Buried feels like a step back for the mode.

If you’re still playing Black Ops 2, and let’s face it, you probably are, Vengeance is worth picking up for the multiplayer maps. If you’re primarily a fan of the Zombies mode I’d say you could save your points/money, but this is the strongest collection of multiplayer maps the game has seen since it launched. We’re not too far off from Ghosts release at this point, but I think the new selection of maps included with Vengeance should whet your appetite for the time being.

Grade: B-