|System: Xbox 360|
|Release: February 01, 2011|
|Players: 1-18 (Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Ryan Cope
Three months can be a long time. In it you can do a lot with your life – meet new people, start a business, fall in love, get married, etc. Or, of course, you can spend so much time playing Call of Duty: Black Ops online that that you now have seventy uploaded videos of yourself pulling off a no scope headshot with a sniper rifle, every layer of your player card unlocked (and it looks like some obscene human/animal interaction), and you've reached level twelve billion prestige. Regardless of this, you're still casually sprinting through levels that you know like the back of your hand and teaching all those noobs who's the best at COD, providing there are any left since everyone seems to have become prestige something or another by now. Yet there's one thing nagging you – you want more maps!
Well have no fear, First Strike is here. Modern Warfare 2 produced several overpriced map packs after its release that shocked gamers by the cost. Now the first DLC map pack for Black Ops has arrived, but the question is, "is it any good?" Yes it is, but is it worth the price? Yes and no. In order to get an idea why, here's what purchasers can expect from this DLC. Available for 1200 Microsoft Points ($15), First Strike offers players five new maps, four multiplayer and one zombie. These include the Berlin Wall, Stadium, Kowloon, Discovery, and the zombie mad house Ascension.
The Berlin Wall is one of the larger maps that can host a ground war, and the name pretty much describes it well, two sides, two big walls, and a deadly "no man's land" in the middle. This fatal warzone in the middle is patrolled by automated A.I. controlled machine gun turrets. There are several safe paths through the wall, but stray away from the designated area and players will be in for a surprise as a rain of bullets will shatter their bodies. This gimmick is fun and messes around with the average status quo of a level, but it doesn't have as much of an impact as it could. The restricted areas in the no man's land that the turrets patrol aren't necessary to run through in order to get around, so there is very little reason for travelling that way. Players won't last long even if they do run through it. Aside from that, there are plenty of shops and buildings to hide in or snipe from on both sides of the wall that it makes for fun map.
Stadium is a small and chaotic map, while not as hectic and pressured as Nuke Town, it offers an interesting area where players can duke it out in fast and intensive combat. While it's small and offers lots of close gun fights, it also has a variety of locations for camping, hiding, or attacking. While there are no gimmicks on this map, there is the entrance to an ice hockey arena, however it is blocked off and players can only look at the white sheet of slippery fun. It would have been nice if this area had been opened up for players, adding a twist such as when sprinting across it you lose balance and accuracy, making it harder to aim. It's a shame that something like this wasn't added, but the map still plays out well and is enjoyable, with many secret alleyways, rooms, and balconies to find.
The setting for Kowloon is taken from the main game's level of the same name, but built up as a completely different area of the Chinese city. The map is of medium size and is essentially (from bird's eye view) an isolated square with two holes in the middle. The level is based on roof tops, so sometimes jumping from place to place is required, which helps recreate the atmosphere from the level that it's based on. Aside from the open areas, there are plenty of back "streets" or passages out of sight from the main pathways. This is excellent for avoiding enemies or getting behind well-defended positions and flanking. Also included are two zip lines that begin from the tall buildings in the middle and branch out to either edge of the map. While they get players from the middle of the map to the other end quickly (which is helpful in games such as Domination), there is no way to fire a gun and absolutely no cover. By using a zip line players trade in protection and the ability to attack for speed and transportation, making them sitting ducks. These gimmicks get old rather quickly though and aren't essential to winning a game, but they sure as hell are fun to ride.