Black Ops 2: Uprising is a largely by-the-numbers update to the latest in the Call of Duty franchise. That doesn't imply that there's anything inherently wrong with Treyarch's newest offering of multiplayer and Zombie madness, but like all the map packs before it, Uprising doesn't offer anything you haven't seen before. By now, you're either the type of player who lives for the periodic updates that each new release in the franchise receives or you're indifferent to such updates, only downloading them because you're being pestered by friends to join in on the fire-fight.
But then, if a formula works, why change it? Whatever type of player you are, you can't argue that Treyarch aren't good at what they do, and the five new maps on offer here are just as good as those that came before it.
The first of these; Vertigo, is a small map that takes place atop a futuristic skyscraper seemingly made entirely of extremely clean glass. Tight rooms open out onto a larger, sky-high plaza with a gaping hole down to the ground floor placed in the centre. There's a great sense of height too, as you can hear the indoor areas turning into wind tunnels as you pass through them.
Multiple flanking opportunities surround the indoor portion of the map, making Vertigo a perfect map for run-and-gun style players. You'll definitely want a lightweight sub-machinegun setup as there are few opportunities to snipe.
Alternatively, Magma is arguably the largest of the new maps, featuring a futuristic Japanese town that has been ravaged by a volcano. Fractured concrete and derailed trains populate one side of the map, providing plenty of cubby holes and bottlenecks to hold positions. The destroyed beauty gives way to fluorescent bars and restaurants that connect further onto long alleyways perfectly suited for snipers. Domination was easily the best game type to play here as there are plenty of opportunities for a group to hold an area down.
Encore, following on from Modern Warfare 3's Underground, is set in London (only in a far less stereotyped one). With the Millennium wheel as a backdrop, Encore is set in an abandoned stadium. It's a medium sized map and, in comparison to the other maps on offer, it feels slightly bland.
Being the only symmetrical one of the bunch, team deathmatch is probably the best type to play within its balanced layout. Raised platforms provide sniping vantage points that overlook the entire stadium, enabling you to pick off anyone dumb enough to run blindly into the centre – just make sure you have a teammate covering your open flank.
The last, Studio, is a spit-and-polish job of Black Ops fan favourite: Firing Range. The layout is untouched, but the previously rather drab target practice inspired map has been revitalised by being turned into a film set complete with green screens, with one half being composed of a Wild West stage, the other being a fantasy inspired castle.
For the benefit of those who haven't played Black Ops, Studio features plenty of verticality, with roosts and single exit buildings perfect for the campers amongst you. If that doesn't suit your play style then you'll almost certainly want some C4 or semtex set up so you can easily clear buildings without falling into a trap.
That wraps up the competitive side of proceedings; all that remains is the new Zombies map: Alcatraz prison. The world famous correctional facility is easily the biggest Zombie playground that Treyarch have released so far, and just like Black Ops' Call of the Dead, the playable characters are voiced by Hollywood talent, including the likes of Michael Madson (Reservoir Dogs) and Ray Liotta (GoodFellas), providing some comedic dialogue.
Voice talent aside, Treyarch have made some noticeable changes to the ageing formula by introducing bizarre ghost forms in which you can leave your body once per round, either by dying or using the many devices placed throughout the prison. Being ethereal makes you invincible and able to power up door controls or perk machines to increase survivability. The invulnerability comes at a cost though, as you have a limited time in which to return to your body and if you don't make it back in time, your toast.
Alcatraz is also the first Zombie map that can actually be completed. By finding plane parts scattered throughout the prison, your group can escape the island, assuming you meet certain obscure conditions. The prison is definitely an improvement over the rather disappointing Tranzit released with the original game, but we still couldn't help but think that the story and puzzle elements that Treyarch seem to be increasingly fond of are wasted in a game type that most players simply play as a glorified horde mode.
Uprising is by no means an essential purchase, but the new competitive maps, as always, are brilliant additions to the already strong selection available. If competitive just isn't your thing you may deem the price worth it for the undead wackiness alone, but it's a shame that both aren't sold separately to cater to fans different tastes. The steep price point for such DLC is never going to go down well with everyone, especially as there is frankly far better value for money out there, but for any diehard fans of the series, you won't go far wrong with Uprising.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II - Uprising (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Black Ops 2: Uprising is a largely by-the-numbers update to the latest in the Call of Duty franchise. That doesn't imply that there's anything inherently wrong with Treyarch's newest offering of multiplayer and Zombie madness, but like all the map packs before it, Uprising doesn't offer anything you haven't seen before.