Under the Radar

Black Ops Annihilation Review

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ALCON: The Call of Duty: Black Ops Annihilation expansion pack will be available July 28 for PS3 and PC. We figured we’d take a minute to go over it with you, if you’re interested. If not, our skewering wit, perspicacity and keen eye for ridonculosity may not be for you…or maybe you’re just a hippie.

First, be forewarned. As with all COD games it doesn’t matter how good you are in real life. You may be a distinguished alumnus of SOI-West and MCMWTC with eleventeen tours in Asscrackistan and stinky vacation spots along the Gulf of Aden. That snot-nosed little bastard BlusteryCheese810 is still going to kill you and teabag you.

Over and over again.

But we digress. Annihilation contains five maps. Silo, Hangar 18, Hazard, Drive In and Shangri-La. All are detailed, original and well layered. As you may quickly deduce, we’re direct action guys. That affects our opinion. Deal with it or read someone else’s review.

Here’s what we like:

•Maps are larger and better designed—plenty of room but close enough for frequent contact between sides, and spawn camping is discouraged on at least two of the maps. Silo is fast and fun to play, allowing quick kills and speedy recovery with several good camping spots for those cowardly lowlifes who enjoy such tactics. Drive In actually gives you the opportunity to use slower team tactics in domination games, if you have the comms and the friends for it.

•Multiple open angles—there are many of them, and a few hidey holes. The best lay-up spots (if you’re a camper) require some work to get to, and most barricaded positions can be approached from at least two shooting trajectories or approach routes. A bounding overwatch would be very effective in some, particularly with long gun cover…if there was any fear of real damage. A respawn is far superior to ESAPIs, after all, and controller fatigue doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as something around 7.62×39mm in size and traveling a couple thousand feet per second.

•Increased difficulty—Capture the Flag flags, Search and Destroy objectives, and Domination Points are more challenging (for most players) then their predecessors. Annihilation revamps the demands of taking and defending an objective, not least because there are more routes with more complex terrain features. Take Pos B on Silo. It has numerous avenues of approach and elevated positions. Two sniper-friendly positions overlook objective B from both sides, allowing for a good overwatch (for assaulters) or area denial (for defenders). A destructible car parallels the position. There’s a third, more obscure high position up high in a somewhat ‘neutral’ territory. Players can assault from their respective spawn sides, of course, but can also get around the flanks relatively easily. These traits, like those of the other maps, make Annihilation’s difficulties commensurate with the increasing skills of players who’ve played and mastered those that have come before.

Here’s what we don’t like:

• Flawed matchmaking—since the release of Annihilation, matchmaking seems flawed more often then not. Connecting to games is glitchy and time consuming, then when you finally get connected you’re either thrown into a match that’s out of reach or placed in a party consisting of players far into the prestige process and superior in skill.

• Sniper overload—long guns them in the game are a necessarily evil (much like campers and BlusteryCheese810) and all maps should have some sniper friendly positions. Players demand it. However, there are vantage spots and OPs all over these maps. This is truly a pain in the fourth point of contact. There are few effective in-game ways to counter a sniper, barring ruthless exploitation of your ONE smoke grenade. Annihilation caters to snipers without making any commensurate effort to build rival load-outs. Some of it just doesn’t make sense, like the FAMAS. Our question to Treyarch would be—even if the FAMAS did require nerfing, what’s the point of limiting an assault rifle when an operator can barely get in effective range of the enemy, and half the time can’t even depart the spawn point without taking a sniper hit? We’ve heard Hazard praised for this, but it just pisses us off. It’s particularly bad around the B flag during domination matches, making it very difficult to retake the flag once it’s been captured. We don’t even play team deathmatch there any more, which might seem petulant but so what?

• Lack of cover—Drive In and Silo lack sufficient cover near the spawn points to allow effective redeployment. New spawns die fast, even if BlusteryCheese810 isn’t playing.

You may notice we didn’t spend a lot of time discussing Shangri-La. That’s because zombies creep us out, and have since Return of the Living Dead (though it had an awesome soundtrack). If you must play it, know in advance that it’s a more cognitive map than its predecessors with terrain features and obstacles you can use to your advantage if you use your head. The napalm zombies are almost as irritating as the damn monkey zombies though, and even the living monkeys will screw with you.

So there you have it, boys, girls and grunts. That’s the distilled wisdom of the Duo. Go forth and conquer. Feel free to teabag BlusteryCheese810 if you have the chance and thanks in advance for doing it.

This is the first of what we hope will be a lot of gaming reviews from the Mad Duo. Leave them comments below or hit them up on Facebook or the Breach Bang Clear website.

 

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