Hands On: First Strike Map Pack

The Call of Duty: Black Ops ‘First Strike’ map pack is finally ready to grace the presence of PlayStation 3s and PCs across the globe but before chunking your hard earned money down on them, we figure you probably want to know what they’re all about and if they’re worth the clam shells.

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So here I am, ready and willing to give you the low-down. The pack consists of four different competitive multiplayer maps and a single ‘zombies’ map. Below you’ll find each map broken down and detailed individually.

Discovery

The first of the competitive maps, Discovery brings a very unique look and feel to multiplayer. It consists of several different military hangers scattered across the map with narrow trails weaving in and out of them. In the center of the map, there’s a large fault that splits the map right down the middle and there are only a few bridges and paths that can get you from one side to the other.

There’s one snowy path in particular that crosses the narrow canyon that can be blown up, which is supposed to trap players on one side or the other, or potentially even kill them if they’re on the bridge when it blows. The problem is, it takes a very large explosion to knock the trail out of commission (like C4), so it rarely ever happens. In fact, with the exception of the one time I went down and did it purposely, I never once saw anyone else do it. And there are other ways to cross over the center line even if the bridge is gone, so it makes little matter anyway.

Discovery is big enough to actually do some sniping on, which immediately sets it apart from most of the stock maps that shipped with Black Ops. There’s a nice long view down the middle of the map that makes for some epic sniper battles between both sides, but you still have to keep an eye out for the run n’ gunners because it’s easy for them to sneak up on you. I thoroughly enjoyed Discovery and while it wasn’t my favorite of the new maps, I had some of my most successful games on it.

Stadium

Also a competitive map, Stadium is kind of like the Nuketown of the First Strike pack. It’s small, it’s very fast and you have to keep your wits about you to survive. It’s set on the outside of a hockey arena in New York but you can still enter and play inside a small corridor portion of the Stadium. The rest of the map has you running through a claustrophobic park with several outlying buildings that keep the map varied.

It has a very circular feel to it and I constantly found myself just making laps around the outside, never bothering to venture towards the center. If you’re playing deathmatch, that’s not a bad strategy because the middle of the map can be seen from multiple balconies and higher access points that put you in a pinch. But those higher levels also provide the perfect vantage point for rooting enemies off the objectives in the Domination game type.

Stadium was actually my favorite of the four new multiplayer maps but depending on your play style, I can also see it being some player’s least favorite. Keep your finger on the trigger, keep an eye on your six and don’t be afraid to load up a shotgun for maximum success.

Berlin Wall

The largest of the new maps, Berlin Wall takes place around a broken section of (you guessed it) the Berlin Wall. This particular section of the wall was home to a prison and there’s a batch of auto-turrets that were left behind. Wander in to the middle of the map and you’ll be mowed down by them immediately. Luckily, there are plenty of other places to cross the map and it’s easy to identify where not to go. Should you actually run through the turret area and survive, you still have to deal with a loud siren that notifies enemies of your location.

I enjoyed this map but just like the bridge on Discovery, it contains another useless gameplay element. When I first laid eyes on this board I got the impression that the auto-turrets didn’t wake up every time your crossed the wall, so you would never know when they might kill you. I also got the impression that cutting through the center meant taking some kind of shortcut. I was wrong on both accounts. The guns will mow you down every time and there are several other safe paths that allow easy movement from side to side, so going out in to the center is pretty much pointless… and suicidal.

Kowloon

If you’re looking for the one map that’s guaranteed to get your blood pumping, it has to be Kowloon. It’s based on the single-player story mission that has you jumping from rooftop to rooftop so the surroundings will seem familiar. This map really reminded me of something from Modern Warfare 2. For the most part, Treyarch’s maps are a little more locked down in the sense that there are not quite as many open areas and holes for enemies to pop out of. That’s not the case for Kowloon. There are tons of windows, doorways and adjacent buildings for enemies to appear in, so staying on your toes and keeping your head on a swivel is an absolute must.

Like a couple of the other maps, Kowloon tried to bring in a new gameplay element via a ‘zipline’ that quickly transports you from a center building to the outside of the map. And just like the other maps, this new element fails miserably. When you jump on the zip line, you’re left out in the open with no weapon and no way to defend yourself for several seconds. The line also makes a loud noise when you’re using it so traversing it stealthily is impossible. After the first few matches, I rarely saw anyone make use of it.

The high point of Kowloon is, without a doubt, a room that sits right in the center of the map. There are multiple doorways, windows and ladders that lead right in to it, and the map is designed in such a way that almost all paths funnel towards this one room. Because of that, it’s a point of high traffic and a very valuable piece to maintain possession of. Unfortunately, it changes hands very often but that’s also part of the fun. I had a great time smoking the enemy out of it, taking it over and then seeing how long my friends and I could hold it before the opposing force ran us back out.

There’s also a zombies map called ‘Ascention’ but my time with it was very limited. It certainly seemed to be a top quality board and it does contain several new things that you won’t find in the native zombie maps (including a new enemy), but without putting more time in to it, I can’t say one way or the other if it’s worth its weight in the long run.

If you’re a fan of Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer, then you shouldn’t feel the tiniest amount of remorse or guilt when handing Activision your money. The only thing better than playing a game that you love, is being able to have new experiences with it and that’s exactly what this pack offers. Sure, the new gameplay ideas that Treyarch tried to implement are all completely useless but the maps themselves are high quality and don’t lose their fun factor too quickly.

If you’re looking for a reason to go back to Black Ops, look no further.

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38 Comments

  1. Has anyone else heard from the PS Blog about a PS+ discount they said they were looking into it, but I guess nothing will happen!

    • If they drop the price to below a tenner then I’ll buy em. Thats what I paid for MW2 and I’ll pay it again for this. It may seem petty for £1.50 but I’m feeling petty ;)

  2. Would love these maps, I’m not about to start a war of words but the price is too much this time. I bought the MW1 & 2 maps but didnt get [email protected] and I doubt i’ll buy these.
    They look great, and i was begrudgingly ready to shell out £9.99 for the maps, but for an extra £1.50, they can do a running jump. I know it isnt much, but I dont play Zombies, so for me it works out at just under £4 per map. Too much in my opinion.
    I know they will sell like hotcakes and im gonna try and win a code on twitter and what not, but I wont be paying for them.

    • Oh before I forget, well done Matt, Cracking write up, you;ve made me want the maps more than ever, but I’m standing firm! ;)

      • I agree here, its too much for “4 maps” that I would play on. I’ve been stung way too many times on DLc for COD, so no buy for me unfortunately. I have KZ3 anyway :)

    • Oh….. didn’t realise it was 4 maps plus a zombie map. Hmmmm

      • still not a good deal I don’t think. Maybe for those who love the game and don’t have problems with connections and lag etc.

      • I understand why some people would think it was pricey, but for me 5 maps, months of play = a no brainer

  3. really enjoyed these on xbox it gave me my second wind with blops and yes it is expensive but well worth it.

  4. Good review. I am tempted by this for the added variety, but the price is just too steep.

  5. They should have given this free to the owners of the Hardened or Prestiege editions!

    • Those people already got a free, exclusive map pack.

  6. I was going to get these, now killzone 3 has consumed my life, will end up getting these at another time.

  7. I’ll probably only get this if/when they drop the price a bit. I already bought the hardened edition of the game, don’t feel like spending another £10+ on maps.

  8. Dones anyone know what time these are coming out in the UK / EU? cus they’ve been out in the us for at lest 6 hours now even though there 8 hours behind us! in another Note awesome im level 4 :)

    • around 4pm according to the treyarch community manager

      • Cheers M8 They came out @ 3 but thanks anyway

  9. Will pick these up when I repurchase BlOps this weekend

  10. I’ll be piggybacking my nephews purchase.. That’s my little dude.

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