Call of Duty: Black Ops [First Strike] Review

Posted: February 11, 2011 by Tim Utley in Reviews
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Black Ops has been out for about 3 months now and the game’s first map pack has arrived entitled First Strike.  This pack contains 4 new competitive multiplayer maps and 1 new zombie map.  The 4 multiplayer maps are Kowloon, Stadium, Discovery, Berlin Wall and the new zombie map is Ascension.  The new maps add some much needed variety to Black Ops as the included maps are becoming quite stale.  So without further adieu I will begin my map by map analysis.


Kowloon Rooftop Frenzy

Kowloon is a medium size map that takes place on the rooftops of Kowloon City.  This map is very Favela-esque.  The atmosphere of the map is pretty ominous because it is dark and raining and you know that you will probably die at some point.  But besides that Kowloon offers up some variety in terms of strategy.  Kowloon like the other new maps offers up some great spots to plop down and do some good ol’fashion sniping .  Or you can plot your course across the map by going cover to cover and going with more close quarters combat techniques.  Also don’t be surprised if you get awarded multiple Assisted Suicide medals in a session because people will fall to their death trying to avoid your gunfire (it is quite comical).  Kowloon has a gimmicky feature with the inclusion of a zip line.  User beware, there are only two ways to dismount the zip line 1) complete the ride and move on or 2) get your ass blown off it, which will most likely happen.  You also can fall off the rooftops so watch your step.  Kowloon’s design will also not appeal to everyone and you will find yourself saying even with a killcam, “where the fuck did I get shot from?”.  Also the design makes it really easy for newcomers to lose their bearings fast, but as you play you will hopefully develop a sense of direction.


I wouldn't scalp tickets outside this Stadium

Stadium is the smallest of the new maps and my least favorite.  I am dubbing this map the new “Nuketown” not because of its size, but because of peoples’ propensity to PICK IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  This map offers up quick and frenetic combat which will usually result in quick matches (not a terrible thing).  So how is fighting in a Stadium you ask?  Should be pretty cool right?  Yeah it should be but this map should have been called “Around the Stadium” because there is no access to ice rink featured in the map.  Remember the Stadium Map in Delta Force: Black Hawk Down?  Probably not, but that had a Stadium map with access to everywhere you would wanna kill someone.  First Strike’s Stadium offers up a map with weird lines of sight so sniping is possible but is marginalized to very small portions of the map.  I am not a fan of Stadium and I question some of the design choices, but doesn’t mean the map is unplayable.


Warm up with a bullet in the head

Discovery’s setting is an abandoned German research facility in the Antarctic.  Discovery is a well laid out map and is fairly decent in size, but it feels like some assets were recycled from previous maps (WMD and Summit) so it doesn’t feel as fresh as the other new maps.  Just like in Kowloon you can fall off the map and die an unfortunate death.  This map is chock full of bottomless pits, so once again watch your step.  This map is good for sniping, CTF matches, and destructible bridges add a new welcomed element of strategy to the game.  Overall Discovery is an enjoyable map to play on.

Berlin Wall

The wall has fallen, but the defenses are up

Berlin Wall looks like it is straight out of World At War.  The map would be the biggest had it not had “No Man’s Land”, which is an area of the map (shaded in red) where you will be killed by automated turrets if you enter.  There is a small corridor running through “No Man’s Land” as to not completely isolate each side of the map.  Super gimmicky and completely unnecessary and almost ruined the allure of the map.  Berlin has a lot of 2 level structures, so gaining high ground can be accomplished almost anywhere on the map (great for sniping).  Berlin Wall is pretty much your standard multiplayer map with really nothing to fancy to report.


A Zombie Breakout at a research facility NO WAY!!

The photo above doesn’t accurately represent the mayhem that goes on inside the facility.  Ascension is the new zombie map for Black Ops and besides lasting as long as you can, rebuilding defenses, and killing waves of the walking dead, not much has changed.  To keep in line with gimmicks, Ascension has Space Monkeys to fight and Black Holes that appear along with a black and white display until you turn on the power.  Also on the ground floor there is some kind of mechanical rotating device that will thwart zombies if you draw them near it (Gimmick).  I unfortunately have only played this map by my lonesome, but if you can get 3 other friends (which I plan on doing soon) Ascension is a blast to play.

Final Details:

The First Strike Map pack has its gimmicks and drawbacks, but if you are an avid Call of Duty player (Xbox 360 for right now) First Strike is worth getting.  It adds much needed sniping maps (Array was it folks) and some variance from the included maps.  If you only play Black Ops occasionally and are not completely sick of the included maps then wait for an inevitable DLC sale somewhere down the road.  Lastly, to my knowledge Treyarch has only made First Strike available in the US for now, so if you are reading this and are living abroad, sorry.

Recommended Buy Price:

Die Hard Fans – 1200 MSP($15)

Casual Players – 800 MSP ($10)

The First Strike Map Pack was purchased by me for 1200 MSP ($15).  I have invested equal time in all maps including the zombie map addition.


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