Connah Tilley FMP Primary and Secondary research.Creating maps for Call of Duty.Call of Duty: Black Ops II Revolution Map Pack DLC ReviewGrindTaking place on an abandoned skate park in Venice Beach, CA, Grind is probably the mostoriginal idea for a Call of Duty map in a long time. The remnence of a fictional “Vert Games”that was taking place are left behind and provide interesting cover and map layout on thismedium sized map. Being able to run up skate ramps and taking cover up above is certainlysomething you will only find in a Call of Duty game.This is an approach that I hope Treyarch (and any other Call of Duty developers) take in thefuture with creating multiplayer maps. The goofy and over-the-top approach is somethingthat only this franchise can get away with, and Grind is a great first step in that direction. Ifonly one could buy the maps individually, because then selling people on this map alonewould be a much easier task.Grade: AMirageMirage is a luxury resort in the Gobi Desert that has been ravaged by a huge sandstorm(invoking memories of a small-scale Spec Ops: The Line). This is your more traditional Call ofDuty fare. Dusty wastelands with buildings that are falling apart. A central “lobby” areamakes up the main choke-point in the middle of the medium sized map, while one sidefeatures two sniper posts and the other is used for more close-combat situations.The map caters to just about every play-style; the only problem lies with its blandness.Although they gave themselves an opportunity to do something really cool, they don’t doanything with the sandstorm and its effect on the environment. I think it would be amazingif you could (like in Spec Ops: The Line) shoot out a sunroof and bury your enemies in sand.Unfortunately, it’s a rather bland map that you feel like you have seen 100 times before.Grade: C
Connah Tilley FMP Primary and Secondary research.Creating maps for Call of Duty.DownhillSnowy maps have been a part of Call of Duty games, and competitive shooters in general, for as longas I can remember. Normally, they are a horrid affair of low visibility mixed with dull whitelandscapes. Somehow, Trey arch has managed to buck that trend with Downhill. Taking place at a SkiChalet/Resort in the French Alps, there is plenty to do here for all kinds of players, though the mainattraction is big sight-lines and sniping nests on either side of the map.The ski-lifts are slow moving, but will crush anyone they come in contact with. This is a great mapacross multiple game-types and perfect if you are trying to level up your favourite Sniper Rifle. Thismap, along with Grind, totally makes the whole pack.Grade: AHydrowhat map pack would be complete without the tiny boring map that sucks all the fun out ofcompetitive multiplayer? Hydro is certainly picking up the slack in that department, as it is a smallmap, that perhaps would draw the affection of hard-core Close Quarter Combat aficionados, but allthat really comes down to is who gets luckier with their shotgun. Taking place on a Dam in Pakistan(not like that really matters, it could be the top of any Dam anywhere), Hydro, to its detriment iseasily the most Call-of-Duty’s experience in the whole pack.There is a lower level to this map, which adds a bit of complexity, and rushing water will go in once around and wipe out everyone down below, which adds some interesting strategy, but only once, fora few seconds.Grade: FPeacekeeper SMGbilled as a Sub-Machine Gun/Assault Rifle hybrid, the Peacekeeper is the first piece of weapon DLCever implemented into a Call of Duty title. The Peacekeeper packs quite a big punch in its littlepackage, and while it doesn’t fire as fast or with as much damage as an MP7 (or a similarlyoverpowered SMG), it makes up for it with incredible precision and almost non-existent kick.Though it feels more like a quicker Assault Rifle at times, you also notice how much it’s still an SMGat longer ranges. At medium range, the Peacekeeper is only slightly better than your average SMG,and is just as useless at long range. It’s probably not going to replace your favourite SMG or AssaultRifle, but it’s a great secondary weapon, or something to use to mix things up a bit.Grade: BOverallThis map pack is totally a mixed bag. Two fantastic maps, a so-so map, and one of the worst mapsI’ve ever played. But the addition of a totally serviceable SMG and a new zombie map (if you are into that sort of thing), probably make this one of the better Call of Duty Map Packs in a long time.Grade: B
Connah Tilley FMP Primary and Secondary research.Creating maps for Call of Duty.Call of Duty: Black Ops map pack, “Escalation” reviewConvoyA shattered piece of American highway is the scene for this map centredaround a crumbling section offreeway, surrounded by areas you might find at a traditional truck stop. One side is flanked by a gasstation and travel lodge, while the other consists of a motel, dinner and transit building. Overhead passesoffer some sniper views, and a hole in the center of the freeway drops players down into a cross roads.Ryan: While still fairly massive, “Convoy” is the smallest of the four maps, and yet it is possibly the mostversatile. The size makes this the fastest moving map, and while some areas can quickly turn into chokepoints, there are more than enough pathways to avoid campers and snipers.Domination works well on this map, as flags will quickly change hands — just don’t expect to take areason your own, as a single opponent with a good vantage point can pick off attackers fairly easily. The lackof cover makes this a good map for people with ranged weapons, but the rubble and overgrowth offerstealth players an advantage too. Sub-machine gun and shotgun fans may be disappointed.Adam: This map is massive, and snipers will initially think it’s all about them. It’s not. The elevatedfreeway section is a No Man’s Land most of the time– walk out into the open at your peril. There aremany routes around that open area, however, along with all sorts of outlying buildings that help conceala map-crossing advance. I’m with Ryan on Domination being a fun one for this map; if you like a good,bloody battle for a central location, Convoy delivers. Point B — located right in the middle of theaforementioned freeway — is tough to capture, but well worth the trouble if your team can get ittogether to defend it.HotelBy far the largest map of the bunch, “Hotel” is a Cuban hotel and casino set atop a building in Havana.The map is fairly linear with two sections bookending an open middle area with a pool. Both sides featuresecond-story views for snipers, but the interior sections are so large that people waiting and watching fora shot on someone outside may have a long, long wait. But while the center of the map may be a deathtrap, the sides will likely end up being the most hotly contested sections, and there are really only threeways to get from one side of the map to the other. Elevators between levels offer a new touch as well.Ryan: “Hotel” may very well be the best looking map of the bunch, but it is also the most imbalanced.Where “Convoy” promotes quick matches due to the size, this map is the exact opposite. The majority ofTeam Deathmatch games will end via the time limit rather than score, as people will spend a largeportion of the match running from one side to the other or waiting for a victim to break cover. This mapfeels very similar to Modern Warfare 2’s “Highrise,” but it is much, much bigger. The imbalance comes inthe game types.Domination works well in this setting. The B point will become a graveyard for whoever tries to take theflag, assuming the defending team is working together. High vantage points offer an easy view down intothe pool where the flag is, while the walls of that same pool make it easy to throw a grenade or semtexright on top of people. While the fighting at B is fierce, the other flags are much more open, and a singleplayer can sneak into A or C quietly, take out the opposition, and capture the area. On the other hand,Team Deathmatch can be a lonely experience depending on your spawn. You will frequently be tossed inthe back of the map, then — even at full sprint — it can take minutes to get to the far end of the map.
Connah Tilley FMP Primary and Secondary research.Creating maps for Call of Duty.Adam: “Hotel” is chaos defined. It’s a huge map, and you might go a minute or sometimes more beforeyou run into some action. The size of the environment can be used to your advantage though. Fire fightstend to cluster up, but the amount of space you have to play around in means that flanking is tough todefend against and a very viable solution if you’re on the attack… once you know the map. This map isbetter than most for squads that work well as a unit.StockpileA Soviet town with a weapons lab in the center features two main entrances that can be closed. It’s arelatively small map, but one that is littered with buildings surrounding the central complex. Groupsutilizing teamwork can hold the center building, but lone wolves can still make their way around thesetting fairly easily.Ryan: Of all the new maps, “Stockpile” is my favorite. It feels like the most balanced of all the maps. TeamDeathmatch and Domination are both fun, and a team working together and holding the center buildingcan utterly decimate a team of stragglers if they play smart.While “Stockpile” is about the same size as “Convoy” in terms of overall area, the multiple buildings makeit feel much, much bigger. I liked the faster speed the smaller maps offer, and most game types shouldwork fine on this map. Ground War may be a bit crowded, but the larger domination games should makefor some intense firefights. Expect the timer to hardly factor in at all. The look of the town is also fairlywell realized. Campers won’t find many areas to hide for long, which appeals to my style of constantmovement.Adam: I’ve got to disagree with Ryan on this one; “Stockpile” is my least favourite of the new maps. Asthe first trailer for the map pack laid out plainly, this one is all about the central building, the one with theplayer-operated garage doors. Fire fights over that central location are fun, but with the exception of thegarage doors — which don’t change up the play very much — there’s not a whole lot of variety in thesurrounding environment.ZooAn abandoned Soviet zoo offers the most complex of the four maps. Tunnels, multiple buildings and amonorail circling part of the map will have you looking in all directions at all times. Of the four, “Zoo” isthe most detailed of the maps. While not as large as “Hotel” in terms of overall area, “Zoo” is the biggestof the maps thanks to the multi-tiered design.Ryan: “Zoo” is a map that people will either love or hate. There is something of a dark color that makesthe area feel slightly ominous, and it casts shadows that enemies can hide in. There are plenty of vantagepoints for snipers, but it can be difficult to see players at times, and the sniper spots are obvious targetswhen you know where to look. Of the four maps, “Zoo” is the one where people will get snuck up on themost. Certain areas are almost labyrinth-like in their design, and the chances of turning a corner andseeing an enemies’ back are very high — as are the chances that someone you never saw will walk up andshoot you.The multiple levels can be a boon to patient players, and a curse to run-and-gunners. Expect a ton ofclaymores carefully tucked around corners, on stairs and dozens of other places. Team Deathmatchworks well here, as will the other objective-based game modes, with the possible exception ofDomination. The first team to take B will almost always be able to hold it for the entire game with only aminor bit of teamwork. It is an exposed area, with windows looking down on it, and several pathwaysleading to it, which always work against the attacker. Headquarters is well suited for this area, but Search
Connah Tilley FMP Primary and Secondary research.Creating maps for Call of Duty.and Destroy can be infuriating when someone just happens to turn a corner and catch you looking thewrong way.Adam: Zoo is beautiful, both in terms of how it looks and how much fun it is to kill virtual combatantsthere. Another very large map, this one stands out among the four new ones for having the most depth.Literally. From tunnels to roosts, there are areas that suit just about every play style. You’ll have to learnthem all and be ready to switch up classes to suit the changing tides of the battle. Zoo is my favourite ofthe new multiplayer maps despite the fact that I’m still learning the layout. Frankly, that’s what I lovemost about it.Call of the DeadThe highlight of the new “Escalation” map pack for many fans of Treyarch’s Call of Duty efforts is the “Callof the Dead” zombie map. The mode itself should need no introduction, having first been introduced in the2008 release, Call of Duty: World at War. Each new map released has been an evolution, with newfeatures like Perk-a-Cola and Pack-a-Punch machines offering additional layers of strategy. “Call of theDead” introduces the most dramatic change yet: a near-indestructible roving boss zombie that roams themap constantly.That roving boss also happens to be Night of the Living Dead writer/director and creator of what we call“zombies” today, George A. Romero. Nasty.Adam: ”Call of the Dead” is by far the biggest zombie map so far, at least one-and-a-half to two times thesize of “Ascension,” the map featured in the previous “First Strike” map pack. Romero is there right frommoment one, slowly walking out from the depths of a snow-ringed lake with a studio light in one hand.His weapon courses with electricity, which not only hurts you when hit but also “infects” any nearbyzombies, giving you a little zap whenever you try to knife them.George has two modes: trying to kill you at a walking pace and trying to kill you while running. The lattercan be triggered by shooting or bumping into him, so try not to do that. There’s a way to chill him out…but I’ll let you figure out that little problem for yourselves.You start off your latest zombie-killing adventure on the shore of this frozen Siberian Lake, caughtbetween a lighthouse /abandoned research facility and a pair of end-to-end shipwrecks. The map is hugeonce all is opened up, but there are several tools to speed up your movement, including ziplines and ajump pad, as well as a small ice slide leading off to a remote patch of land. Bodies of water, which servedonly to slow you down in “Ascension,” are much more useful here. Pop a couple of shots into a zombiewading toward you and you’ll see it start to freeze; shoot or knife the iced zombie and any surroundingshamblers will be slowed down. The weather is also constantly changing, with heavy fog rolling in atfrequent intervals to cut your visibility down significantly.For those who were dedicated enough to see the Power Nodes Easter egg from “Ascension” all the waythrough to its sweet 90-seconds-of-Death Machine end, you’ll be happy to hear that an even moreelaborate scavenger hunt has been crafted for “Call of the Dead.” The community as a whole is stillworking its way through the steps, but there’s some indication that the reward is much more enjoyablethat the admittedly awesome “Ascension” Death Machine. I won’t mention what it is, other than sayingthat it relates to another long-requested fan item.The added element of Romero significantly changes the way you play the game. It is no longer possible tosimply get four players together, set yourselves up to defend and simply hold the line. A great deal moremovement is required, which is quite challenging in the early rounds as you juggle the need to purchasemore firepower with the need to access more of the map. The zombies themselves are more nimble nowtoo, running faster and spawning in a wider variety of locations (including the ground beneath you). All ofthat together adds up to what is perhaps the most challenging zombie map is yet from Treyarch, and alsothe most rewarding one for those who are willing to learn its intricacies.
Connah Tilley FMP Primary and Secondary research.Creating maps for Call of Duty.Ryan: Call of the Dead is hard, at times very hard. Zombie Romero is a beast, and the map is designed sothat you may end up fighting off enemies coming at you from every angle at once. The inclusion of thefour real-life actors is a nice touch, and it adds a bit of campy flair to the game. The map pack “Five”which featured Kennedy, Nixon, McNamara and Castro hit on this camp factor, but “Call of the Dead”utilizes it much better through fairly clever one liners and solid character animations. It is just kind of funto play as Machete and decimate zombies, or give Buffy a handgun and watch her blast her way throughhordes of the undead.The two new guns are both a welcome addition, but this map will make you earn them. More 28 DaysLater than Dawn of the Dead, zombies will haul ass after you, giving you very little respite. “Call of theDead” is a smart addition to the zombie series that fans have been playing for a while now. It is thehardest and requires the most teamwork, so the learning curve will be steep. But for fans of the gametype, that is exactly the right move.OverallRyan: The four new maps and new zombie stage of “Escalation” are solid addition to the BlackOps series. They all offer something fresh, and they all feel like the Treyarch team stretched its creativemuscles to bring us something new. The results are a bit inconsistent, but overall well worth thepurchase. The “First Strike” expansion felt a bit more natural for the series, but the variety is greatlyappreciated and will make a good addition to the full rotation.Adam: The theme of this new map pack is most definitely “bigger.” The maps are much more spread outand, with the exception of “Stockpile,” they all feel like they exist within a larger world (at war). There’smore variety, and there’s also more complexity within that variety. The “First Strike” maps may have fit inbetter, but these five environments, on the whole, are much more satisfying to play on.
Connah Tilley FMP Primary and Secondary research.Creating maps for Call of Duty.Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Liberation & Piazza Map PackReviewPublished on Jan 27, 2012The way Activision is marketing Modern Warfare 3’s DLC doesn’t exactly fit in with our regular reviewing format, but we’reslapping a ‘BUY’ on these two new maps simply because they’re both really good – better than any included in the main game,definitely. How and when you buy them and whether they’re worth whatever the asking price turns out to be is a rather morecomplicated matter. They’re not priced in this review because you can’t buy them as a standalone pair. At the time of writing,you can only get them if you’ve paid for an Elite Premium subscription, but as we understand it, they’ll also form part of abundle of content released at a later date. Now, if you could buy them individually for a couple of hundred Points each, thenwe’d recommend them both without reservation because they’re so good.But when you consider that if you buy them now, you don’t know exactly what else you’re getting for your money, they seemalmost too good.Liberation and Piazza are so clearly superior to any map in the main game that it’s difficult not to smell a rat. Is it possible thatthe main game’s maps are mostly mediocre and samey in order to make the premium content more appealing? And is itpossible that the very best maps have been chosen for the first month of the DLC season in order to promote Elite Premium?