|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Release: June 28th, 2011|
|Players: 1-18 (Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
by Adam Dodd
Call of Duty: Black Ops' last map pack was extraordinary because it was so much more than a bundle of new maps. The four competitive maps were great but the highlight of the pack was its incredible Call of the Dead zombie level that featured horror icons like Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) and a cameo by legendary Night of the Living Dead director George Romero. Needless to say, its follow up, the Annihilation pack, has a stratospherically high bar to live up to. So does it? In a word, no.
That's not to say this pack isn't fun—because it is—it's just that it's lacking that factor that makes it unique and a must-have. I'm sure Black Ops fans don't need me to tell them they need this pack because they've already bought it, but for the rest of you I suggest reading on to see if this is something you actually need.
The first of the four competitive maps is Hanger 18, and it's set in a well-guarded secret U.S. military facility. The map was originally supposed to be called Area 51, which brings a bunch of extra terrestrial connotations with it, but the actual map is grounded in the real world, so don't count on seeing any cool alien technology. Its focal point is the iconic SR-71 Blackbird, which you can climb on and mess around with to your heart's content (though, sadly, interactivity with the plane is very limited). Aside from the plane, there are a few interesting areas in this map, including a room filled with alien corpses covered with sheets. Overall, it's a pretty fun map to play on. My only problem is that it's supposed to be a base that's hiding dead aliens, yet the concept really isn't taken far enough. Instead it looks and plays much like the other maps, with a few neat things to look at when you aren't being shot up by other players.
Silo is the second map and, despite its large size, there's little going for it. Pretty often a missile will launch during battle, but we've seen that before in the Launch map where it actually affected the gameplay. There are plenty of routes you can take to flank your foes, so it's crucial to check your six pretty often or have someone with you for cover. This map is a little too similar to other maps in its look and how you play on it, so it ends up feeling a little too familiar. Battles on missile silos are a little overdone at this point, I would've liked to see and play in something a little more original.
The third map, dubbed Hazard, is easily my favorite. It takes place on a broken-down cliffside golf course that was obviously a gorgeous country club in its time. Even though it's a fairly small map, talented snipers will be able to find a few favorite spots to take out unsuspecting enemies. This is the only map that manages to offer something different to look at while also forcing you to mix up your strategies a bit. Parts of it are wide open, there are a few different levels to it, and more than a couple of good place to hide, if that's your sort of thing. I prefer the Rambo-style, guns-blazing approach, though that may be why I die so often.
The final competitive map is the modestly sized Drive-In level. This one's great in that it's one of those maps that force you to get up close and personal more often than not. That's not to say it doesn't give you options, because there are both tight corridors for close-quarters combat and handy perches for snipers. One area in particular offers a view of most of the map and it's sure to be a favorite spot for long-ranged enthusiasts. More observant players might notice an Easter egg in the level's arcade: the games are named after the game's maps and even one that's called "Call of Duty: World at War."