Video Game Review: ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Faces ‘Annihilation’

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CHICAGO – Clearly, Activision and Treyarch aren’t satisfied with dominating the shooter market for only part of the year; they want the entire calendar. How else to explain the most ambitious DLC expansion plan in console shooter gaming history? “First Strike” wasn’t enough and neither was “Escalation.” Now comes “Annihilation,” another map pack with four new arenas in which to play and a new zombie adventure. Available exclusively for the Xbox for now, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” has expanded yet again and the pack features at least two maps you really must play. Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0

“Call of Duty: Black Ops — First Strike,” which was released in February, still contains my favorite expansion maps and if you’re only going to buy one, it’s the one. But you should save up for “Escalation” for the best zombie adventure (“Call of the Dead” with George A. Romero, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and more) and then put aside some credit for “Annihilation.” Each map in this pack has its pros and cons but all are sure to suck away hours of your life in matches of Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy, Domination, Sabotage, and more. Like all great DLC, these maps don’t rewrite the rules of the game or change what you love about it; merely build on it.

One by one:

Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation -- Drive-In
Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation — Drive-In
Photo credit: Activision


Inspired by “Nuketown,” this map features a lot of close-quarters combat in an old drive-in. Prepare to find your twitch skills tested as you round a corner to greet an enemy or realize that one is sneaking up on your carefully-chosen hiding spot. “Drive-In” is a fast-paced, cleverly-designed map that encourages all kinds of play. It’s one of the most overall enjoyable DLC maps yet released. I can’t wait to get back. It’s an excellent map for Team Deathmatch but is a bit small for some of the objective-based games. Still, for TDM, it’s a beauty.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation -- Hangar 18
Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation — Hangar 18
Photo credit: Activision

“Hangar 18”

Inspired by Area 51, “Hangar 18” feels the most familiar of the new maps but it works for what it is, especially in Team Deathmatch. I’m not sure what this means, but it definitely played to my strengths with some pretty successful kill ratios in TDM rounds. A plane in the middle of the level (which you’ll see above) serves as the centerpiece and is a wonderful temptation for players. Sit up there and try to pick off players below or know for a fact that they’ll sneak up behind you and kill you if you do? The level is a bit smaller than it should be but still another fun one.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation -- Hazard
Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation — Hazard
Photo credit: Activision


I have mixed feelings about “Hazard.” It’s cool to run around a golf course but it’s a straight-up annoyance when it comes to Deathmatch because of its wide-open spaces and how easily they play to snipers. I played a match where, I swear, no one died for a full minute because everyone was too scared to move. You run in the open, you die. However, the level works great for objective play, especially Domination because it forces players to leave the comfort of their sniper nests. I love it in that kind of play but will likely exit out every time it comes up for TD. As for the actual map design, it’s pretty neat to look at. There’s something cool about taking out an enemy on the green of the 18th hole.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation -- Silo
Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation — Silo
Photo credit: Activision


I’ve spent the least amount of time in “Silo” so far today but I haven’t really missed it. It’s certainly not a bad map but it’s so reminiscent of ones that were included on the actual disc that it doesn’t really stand out. It’s a bit too familiar, as if you’re paying for something you already own. The best new maps — “Hangar 18” and “Drive-In” — remind you of maps you’ve played before without feeling repetitive. “Silo” feels pretty repetitive. There are a few neat aspects, including a tunnel that cuts through a large chunk of the map and concrete tubes in which to hide but it’s nothing special.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation -- Shangri-La
Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation — Shangri-La
Photo credit: Activision


Finally, there’s another zombie adventure, this one set in a rainforest complete with ruins filled with zombies. You may miss the star power of the last installment but true zombie nuts don’t need celebrities. They just need exploding zombie brains. And lots of ‘em.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops — Annihilation” was released exclusively for the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) for the Xbox 360 on June 28th, 2011. It was developed by Treyarch and released by Activision. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Anonymous's picture

golden rod

why is there a golden rod next to dr rektovins grenades in shangu-la

Anonymous's picture

lmao dude it’s called the

lmao dude it’s called the xboxlive marketplace not the arcade thats for arcade games get your shit straight or you’ll have a hard time finding a place in the journalism business.

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