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Tom Francis

Apr 22, 2011

Call of Duty: Black Ops First Strike

Deus Ex. Half-Life 2. Episodes One and Two. Hm? Oh hi, didn't see you there. I was just thinking of things that are cheaper than a Call of Duty: Black Ops map pack to pass the time while I camp.

The Ascension map is the best of the bunch.

Knights of the Old Republic. Rome: Total War. GTA: Vice City. I'm camping the Berlin Wall – it's cool that I can do that and it's nice to be fighting on a backdrop that means something. Not anything to do with Activision's bombastic, stupid FPS, particularly, but that's OK.

Lay of the land

Unfortunately as a map, it's pretty much just a series of windows looking out onto wide open areas, or 'noob farms' as we might as well call them. Players who like to die run around the map, players who like to kill lie in windows and gun them down before their victims have a chance to spot them.

Don\'t run across any empty spaces, the snipers are waiting.

FEAR. Fallout. Braid. Blam! I shot a guy named AssWhore! This is living. It's pretty much the same living I was doing on the stock Black Ops maps and because not everyone has these, I'll probably spend most of my time playing on servers running the old ones anyway. One of the reasons that not everyone has these is that they cost 11 cocking pounds. Luckily, this server is for people who will give Activision whatever they have the balls to ask for, and the new Antarctic map, Discovery, is up next.

I guess if you're going to give a map a visual gimmick, the aurora australis is a pretty good one to add. You don't exactly drop your remote control car and gawp at its majesty, but it gives the icy map an eerie feel that distinguishes it from Summit. It's full of very long sight lines – nice for snipers and a pain for everyone else.

Eleven pounds? You must be joking.

Psychonauts. Both Max Paynes. Far Cry. The other two multiplayer maps are forgettable: Stadium sounds like a nice idea, but the Stadium itself is blocked off: it's really Awkward Streets Near a Stadium. Kowloon tries to capture the rainslick atmosphere of the Hong Kong section in the singleplayer game, but in practice it just brings the muddy grey of the scenery even closer to the muddy grey of the people you're trying to spot.

Value for money

Hitman: Blood Money. World of Goo. Darwinia. The best thing about First Strike is a new map for the zombie survival mode. Ascension is set inside a Soviet Cosmodrome, takes place in black-and-white, and features zombie scientists getting battered by a spinning centrifuge, a black hole grenade, and evil space monkeys. It's tense, funny and stylish.

Ultimately, though, nothing here justifies the brutal £11 price tag. It would be hard to throw £11 without hitting something of better value. If Activision ever stop gouging gamers for content that smaller developers make for free, their mediocre efforts might be worth buying.

Call of Duty: Black Ops First Strike

There’s only one good co-op map and a few middling deathmatch ones. The price is obscene for what you get.

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