The highly anticipated first downloadable content for the biggest selling game of the year has landed. Will Treyarch and Activision have a hit on the hands? Will it sell in the millions and have fans all over the world in a rapture of FPS goodness? Read on, dear gamers, read on…
Launched on February 1st, 2011 the ‘First Strike’ additional content package for Treyarch’s best-selling FPS combat shooter Call of Duty Black Op’s has taken Xbox360 players to the next level of gaming heaven as they unleash their weapons on their counterparts over four new multiplayer maps and one new Zombie map.
Released as a timed exclusive for the Microsoft console, ( much to the chagrin of PC and Playstation gamers the world over, and thus adding further fuel to the PS3/PC porting furore ), the first of the inevitable map pack’s for Treyarch and Activision’s Call of Duty Black Op’s comes bursting onto the Xbox Live Marketplace like a prepubescent acne explosion during the match interval. Costing the standard issue Call of Duty 1200 Microsoft Points, ( around £10 ), First Strike, to give the map pack its correct moniker, is five new maps that will see a feeding frenzy of activity on the first person shooter title. The good news regarding the DLC is that all those fan sites and forum’s dedicated to Treyarch’s wunderkind have not, it would seem, gone unheeded as the developers have been listening to the fan’s requests for at least some of the issues in the game.
Combining stunning locations, that in turn offer deeper player interaction on a previously unseen level, with what is quite simply the best online action, First Strike is four multiplayer map’s over very differing terrain and one new Zombie level for all you fans of the Undead Horde.
The first of the new maps on offer to you is Kowloon. This is a map that has been lifted from the Call of Duty storyline, and features in the section where you must extract information from the British agent . In the multiplayer version it follows a similar format as the main storyline, whereby the combat takes place on neon lit, rain-soaked rooftops high above the Kowloon skyline. The added attraction of the games new interactive sections of the multiplayer modes comes in the form of the perilous zipline, that is available for players to chance their arm at by traversing the sodden shantytown roof’s after quickly grabbing onto the zipline and swinging across from one side of the map to the other. This may sound like an attractive prospect for the more dramatic and glory seeking individual, but the zipline is very exposed and is usually populated on both sides by the campers that sit in wait for an unsuspecting thrillseeker.
But the beauty of Kowloon is that it appeals to all types of FPS gamer. The same can be said for all of the new maps of the First Strike package, in that the map’s suit not only the campers and the cautious, but also the carefree and courageous run and gunners.
Running and gunning across the clattering corrugated iron shanties, and in and out through broken windows provides cracking entertainment that, as far as first person shooters are concerned, is second to none.
This is also obvious in the new pack’s second map Discovery, ( which is also taken from the game’s storyline, and is lifted straight from the assault on the Nova 6 factory as Reznov and his Russian comrades seek to rescue the German scientist Steiner on the orders of the games’ chief bad-guy, and one time ally, Dragovich ). The same high standard of fast and frenetic gameplay is on offer here, as the map is a haven to both the sniping fraternity as well as the more ‘Gung Ho’ up-and-at-them type of players. Those who favour the sneakier approach of the ‘hit and hide’ fighter will relish the wide open spaces that allow them to easily pick off their targets as the unfortunate enemy soldier darts between cover. But as in all of Treyarch’s latest maps there is always the chance of the run and gunner seeking his way to the lair of the hidden adversary by navigating their way through the bombed out buildings and cover to search and destroy with extreme prejudice the source of their unseen pain. In a nice touch Treyarch have also introduced a new feature on this map that will allow gamers to blow up a bridge that is a main route through the map. This is easy said than done, however, as to accomplish this fete of explosive expertise you must stand in a very exposed position and have the support of your team members, otherwise you are simply target practice for enemy snipers. The hardest part of this action is being able to find a team of like-minded individuals who understand the concept of team tactic’s as opposed to just running headlong into the battle without a thought for others.
Stadium is next up on the new map hit list and is a great map for run and gunners, but fear not my camping connivers as there are also enough places for you to ply your sneaky trade too. Though this map is not featured in the campaign it still feels very familiar for some reason, and we put that down to the fact that it is most like the hectic Nuketown map from the already available zones. Small and claustrophobic with little scope for the sniper this map is best played with your thoughts being fixed firmly on a frontal assault. Yes, there are the odd sniper positions to be found at various points across the zone, but ultimately you will be overrun, and quickly, by the sheer weight of numbers racing toward you all cannon’s blazing.
A GamesMediaPro firm favourite, and in our opinion the map that separates the men from the bo’s, has to be the simply awesome Berlin Wall. This absolute purler of a map takes place over and around the ruins of a fictional Checkpoint Charlie, a border checkpoint set in the German capital during the Cold War. With automated turrets spitting fiery death from an AI controlled watchtower, Berlin Wall offers an outstanding mid-size map that is not only perfect for Camping Colin and his clan of snipers, but is also ideal for the Run and Gun Brigade as they bound and leap through shell damaged buildings and burnt out cars in their pursuit of the foliage covered nemeses. A truly staggering map that has some of the best FPS action and attention to detail, ( just check out the record shop for an example of this ), that we have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
The final map in this premium package of perfection in gameplay comes in the form of Ascension. This map provides the next level of entertainment for all you headhunters of the undead kind, and features new weapons and perks with which you can better torment your terminally-challenged quarry. In a nice move gamers will find themselves attacked not by slavering dog’s of death at level 6 this time round, but by red-eyed demonic monkeys of doom as the test subjects that you butchered in the lab’s for your achievement during the single player campaign now come back to exact their revenge.
All told then, First Strike is a stunning further example of multiplayer action done at its very best. Yes the price tag has people spraying their tea all over their partners in an expression of mock disbelief, but when you consider just how much playtime and enjoyment you will gain from this purchase, and also the fact that you will be playing this DLC for months to come, you will then understand that a mere £10 is not too steep a price to ask after all. We guarantee that you will have spent far more on far worse games and content that you will never pick up again in your lifetime. Is Call of Duty Black Op’s First Strike worth the 1200 Microsoft Points? You bet your sweet Momma it is!
Graphics: Once again Treyarch and Activision have scored a direct hit with the top-notch visual’s and staggering attention to detail that makes Call of Duty stand head and shoulders above all other competitors in its field. 10
Gameplay: The best! Bar none! What more do you need to know? The gameplay follows the tried and tested award-winning formula and never lets up for a moment in its action as you race from one blazing hot piece of combat to the next. 10
RePlay Value: As previously stated, though some may see the 1200 Microsoft Points price tag as a bit steep, when you consider the amount of time that you will spend on these maps then a paltry tenner is chicken feed for the sheer amount of top quality gameplay that you get for your money every single time you fire the game up. You’ll be playing this even after the release of Modern Warfare 3. 10
Presentation: Another headshot for the Activision and Treyarch camps as they score an instant ‘One Hit-One Kill’ score with this simply awesome DLC package. First Strike has addressed many of the issues that gamers had raised on their forum’s and even goes as far as to include most of them in the game. Looking better than ever and handling so smooth you would think it had just been covered in Baby Oil and thrown down a water slide, First Strike ticks every box and then some! The best online multiplayer experience by a country mile. 10