The first DLC addition for the sensational BO2 multiplayer comes in the form of Revolution. Available for 1200 MS Points, or as part 1 for season pass holders, this initial installment packages: four multiplayer maps, an new SMG (first downloadable weapon for Black Ops), a fresh zombie play land, and an additional zombies match type.
BO2 multiplayer returns to a "colder-than-usual" climate with Downhill. This medium size layout is inspired by fancy-schmancy ski resorts. The center of the map is occupied by the lift gate and carts while other assorted buildings are dotted about intermittently. Initially, the map felt quite odd to me, then I realized something. Downhill plays, in some respects, like a Battlefield 3 selection. And before arms get thrown up in a cry of "blasphemy!," allow me to explain. In terms of trekking from one end to the other, the size isn't even close to a BF landscape. But the outdoor portions feel very broad and open. This is because the indoor/building "features" are small in comparison. Any of the rooms can be checked and cleared very quickly. This causes the rolling snowy hills and footpaths to play large and have extended sight lines. This map is tough to play without good teamwork. It's all about area control and anticipating enemy spawn locations. Demolition is probably the best gametype I played here, as the two bomb depots are in the most structured and interesting parts of the map, and allow for a plethora of defense and attack strategies. I wasn't to thrilled with Domination. The clear shot paths make it way to easy for the defending team to "hold up" with only one area of concern; and racing to the control area is a cross-fire mess, again because of the "open-ness."
If "bundling up" isn't your cup of tea, the sweltering Mirage might be a better travel destination. Based on an inclosed fortress, this spot is predicated on speedy decision making and closed quarters fighting. The outdoor portion is decently large, but there are so many structures that can be used for cover that it's tough to get easy shots under the sun. The way to play is infiltrate the main palace, crouch down behind a door frame or hallway panel, and peek out to get sweet pot shots. There are a few decent sniper perches outside to post up at, but there are way too many counter paths for these to be considered dominant positions, and only the best long range-ers could turn them into a home for the entirety of a match. Unlike Downhill, this is a superb spot for Domination. In lieu of the furiously close gunfire patters, control can switch back and forth with the help of a grenade or two, then shifts to start the deadly rat race all over again. And while objective playlist are very fun here, TDM (and its variants) just didn't come across very well. Because the construction is so "twisty," getting shot in the back is a very common occurrence, and it becomes difficult to get into a sustainable "slaying rhythm."
Personally, I think Hydro is the weakest of the quartet. I'm usually a fan of symmetrical layouts, so it came to some surprise that this one rubbed me the wrong way. It's a multi-tiered level with a water hazard along the bottom that gives you a short warning to get "top side" or suffer a death. I think the crux of the issue has to do with "flow." Hydro has three, maybe four, viable paths from one end of the map to the next. The problem is that it has too many points where wielders of mid to long range weapons can simply squat and wait for players to traverse. Movement becomes a methodical mess, and with it being a relatively small map, a "fast break" pace should be appropriate. Most team based games just do not lend themselves to a cohesive play experience. The only one that does, and is actually really good, is Search & Destroy. With no respawns, it forces everyone to take their time while attempting to accomplish the objective. Other than that, FFA could work here because it's nearly impossible to "hold up" somewhere when it's you vs. the field.
The most solid map in the group is Grind. This skate park now plays host to shooting, knifing, bomb planting, and dog tag collecting competitions to the death! The "smedium" size is really imbalanced if you were to see it on a blue print, but it plays extremely smooth. The average pace set here is one of a brisk nature, but is not dizzying-ly fast, either. For me, the best part is there seems to be no good or bad way to play the map. No "sure fire" plan to rack up a 10.00 K/D, but also no movement routes that should be avoided at all costs. The players from match to match determine the hotbeds of action. Will holding the shop and indoor ramps be the way to assume map control, or is setting up ARs around the bowl how the day is to be won? An overwhelming percentage of games I played here felt fresh and exciting. It's rare that a map not get tiresome after repeated plays, even ones you may hold favorable. I never get weary of playing here. I contend that any and all game types work great, but the one that is far and away the best is Kill Confirmed. The individual features produce awesome shootouts, but the way each of them seem to be "isolated" from the next eliminates most of the pesky "Long Shots" that execute you right before grabbing those well earned tags.
The one big surprise in Revolution is the addition of a weapon: the Peacekeeper. First, I was really surprised Treyarch decided to develop and add a tool of destruction that other non-DLC players can't access (unless, of course, they "pick it up" from a dead participant). Second, I am shocked that it's actually worth using. I consider myself a "mid range" player. I don't quite play at the clip that Lightweight/Fast Mag/Quick Draw SMGers do, but I'm also not one to camp. Give me a close to intermediate distance firearm where I can scope up and take out a few "tangos" from a decent distance. To do this, I have a really hard time using iron sights, and always equip Red Dot or Reflex. The Peacekeeper has one of the best iron sights I've ever used. This keeps an attachment slot free to increase other attributes. Additionally, the weapon features very little recoil. I know some SMGs also don't "jump around" too much, but they don't have the range this thing does. The class I created for it has Long Barrel, Laser Sight, and FMJ. With the upped long accuracy and beefier payload, it plays like a pretty good assault rifle with no recoil and a heavy clip. I use this gun an overwhelming majority of the time. And it accounted to about 55% of my Kill Cams while in the Revolution playlist.
Next is the highly anticipated addition to Zombies. Die Rise can be described in one word: big. This sprawling two-skyscraper construction is a great blend of different elements. There is an insane amount of play surface available, but the "rooms" vary in size, items, and survival strategies. The bottom and middle floors have spots with only a few windows and access points, but aren't loaded with wall weapons or power ups. So while "holding up" in these areas could buy you a handful of rounds, it's only a matter of time before more firepower will be needed. Jumping over to the other building opens up new things to collect, but "running and gunning" becomes quite the challenge if you aren't completely confident in your knowledge of the layout. The best part is the balanced give and take of Die Rise. Two of the more useful wall weapons, POW-57 and AN-94, are great tools to have, and can save you from having to "hit" the Mystery Box again and again. But their locations are tricky and can be deadly trip if you attempt to grab them alone. Jugger-nog becomes a must to survive in later rounds, but is sometimes located in this really awkward shaped room that leads from a hallway with a ton of windows, and has a window of it's own along the back wall. To make matters worse, the only route of escape is either through the aforementioned hallway's door, or riding on top of one of the elevators that move when they feel good and ready. This map will breed an endless amount of Youtube videos of people that claim they have nailed down the best strat to survive. And the beauty is that they won't be right or wrong. There is plenty here to allow for players of all sorts to make their own way and do what works for them. Die Rise feels like playing through a zombie film. A notion that hasn't been achieved since Call of the Dead.
The last item of note is the new playlist in Zombies called Turned. This is an FFA game for up to four. The crux of the match is simple: one player is a weapon wielding survivor while the other three are members of the brain craving undead. The object is for the three zombies to bum rush the human and "turn" him. Whom ever gets credited with the attack becomes the survivor. The match is timed for 6:00 and points are awarded for staying alive, getting kills, getting "turns," and being the last human before time expires. This is a pretty fun retreat from the norm, but is not something most people will not want to play for hours on end. What this should be is a prototype for Treyarch to utilize. The mechanics of being the undead are simple, but very effective. It feels uncannily natural to be the zombie, as movements are fluid and pulling the RT or LT swipes the coordinating arm. The problem is the limited scope. The novelty wears off sooner than later, and you'll be wanting to return to your normally scheduled co-op marathons. But the devs have proved there is potential for more expansive, and "fleshed out" (no pun intended) adversarial match types at some point in the (hopefully near) future.
I'm always highly skeptical and critical of FPS DLC. Even though I purchase the maps for my favorite shooters without delay, rarely am I satisfied and usually feel cheated in some way or another. I can honestly say this is a bargain for $15. The four maps are some of the best BO2 multiplayer has to offer, the Peacekeeper is a great choice for a range of different players, and the zombie excursion is just epic. If the rest of the planned downloadable releases are this good, we could be looking at the best collection of DLC options ever for this type of shooter. But I'll believe it when I play it...