With Uprising, Black Ops II continues its world tour of remote, exotic and interesting locales. First, imagine yourself in a modern Japanese village in the aftermath of a frickin' Godzilla attack. Okay, it's actually just recently been hit by a volcanic eruption, but it's not much of a stretch.
While in Magma, try to take in the sights at (what's left of) the fish market, if you like, but the commuter train isn't going to take you anywhere... and you'll want to watch out for the molten lava. Oh, and the gunfire. You'll probably want to avoid getting hit by the rampant gunfire of the other players trying to survive.
I found that Magma offers a lot of close-quarters action, as well as several nice places for setting up traps, but there are still a couple of nice spots for snipers to take some sweet shots from, although there's not really any place that's very safe to "camp."
Uprising DLC Map Pack Preview - Official Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Video
If the volcanic activity is a bit much for you, rise up above it... way up above it. Let Black Ops 2: Uprising whisk you away to take your gunfight high atop a skyscraper in metropolitan India. That should be high enough to avoid getting in lava. (Or seeing the ground, for that matter.)
As I said, according to the official description, this skyscraper is in India, but you're never going to live to see the bottom, so, for all intents and purposes, the location of this map is simply - up in the air. Be extra careful around the edge of the building; that first step is quite fatal.
Despite the fact that you're hundreds of stories in the air, there are only two accessible levels to this map - the top floor and the roof. The inside features a central atrium with a balcony, making the inside just about as dangerous as the outside when it comes to taking a nosedive into concrete.
Skyscrapers aren't generally designed for people to be running around on top of them, nor are they intended for long distance target practice; the multitude of elevator housings, engineering buildings, air conditioning systems and such cut down on long distance sniping opportunities a bit, as they form nearly labyrinthine passages that greatly reduce range and visibility. These areas do, however, present opportunities for setting traps, running and knifing or making effective use of radar-based boosts. The interior offers some long distance sniping across the atrium, but the balcony doesn't provide much cover and the various doorways leave would-be snipers quite exposed.
Well, it couldn't last forever, right? Activision can't afford to continually fly your avatar to exotic locations in every corner of the world; eventually, you have to look at the budget, bite your lip and make a judgement call... some things have to be done in a studio.
And so, here you are... in a Hollywood movie studio, fully equipped with areas designed for shooting westerns, science fiction movies, mega-monster disaster films, police dramas... but what you should probably concentrate on is shooting your enemies.
There are a few nice "camping" roosts in this map, and from what I've seen, a good bit of gameplay in this map revolves around taking them, defending them or simply sniping enemies from above a lot in them. Pay attention to your enemies and not as much attention to your surroundings, or your mind may play tricks on you. One area is set up for filming mega-monster disaster films (a la Godzilla) and the first time I encountered it was when I chased someone running into the area. The result was quite... trippy, as my eyes were telling me that the scale had just changed.
Ever been to a really large outdoor venue? Perhaps an arena or a large football stadium? If so, you know that there are basically two sides to these monstrous constructs: the inside, where there is clear visibility from one side to the other, and the outer, surrounding infrastructure where you can find the restrooms, lockers, catering, storage... things that are needed, but not something to be shown off.
That's basically what you get with Encore. Even though there is some construction equipment in the middle area, for the most part, the center is a dangerous pit with few places to hide. Meanwhile, the outer fringes offer many more opportunities for more cloak-and-dagger sneakery. Personally, I prefer to shoot into the bucket rather than swimming in it with the sharks... and I can also spend almost an entire game sneaking around the outskirts, ducking around corners and capping enemies, then disappearing back around another corner.
MOB OF THE DEAD:
Ok, so Mob of the Dead was definitely the mode that I anticipated the most in Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Uprising. I am always a big fan of the Zombies levels and when you pile on all of the Hollywood mobster talent loaded into this mode, it just makes it all the more better. You get to play as one of four gansters looking to break out of Alcatraz, but not expecting the hordes of zombies to take over and ravage the place. The models for Michael Madsen, Chazz Palminteri, Joe Pantoliano and Ray Liotta look spot-on and they add plenty of spice to this mode with their hilarious banter, since the cons have no idea what is going on and they can't understand why they have to pay to open doors and such. Love it.
Mob of the Dead Trailer - Official Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Video
Your goal is to kill zombies, but also to search for parts to repair the plane and escape the island and also build beefier weapons. I never really quite understood why a flaming hound of hell bursts from a wall and devours dead zombies, while seemingly helping you, but I'm cool with it. I found the fighting pretty frenetic, as is typical with any Zombies Mode and although I found several key items while playing in a solo game, I never seemed to get into a match with people who were working towards completing the quest. They just ran around shooting stuff and opening random doors to give the zombies more places to filter in. In fact, one match started out with some dude knifing me over and over until I shot him in the face with my shotgun (to get his attention, of course) and told him we were playing on the same team. Let's hear it for being the only one with a headset. Go team.
Grief once again returns where 8 players can play with or against a team to defeat the zombies - basically last prisoner standing. As always, you can play locally with split screen, which is really difficult and not much fun, or on Xbox Live.
The new mechanic used in Mob of the Dead is that when you die, you become a spirit and can access certain areas only when in your spirit form. You can also use this form to start up previously broken electrical stations and quickly zap zombies to death, but be careful. Your electricity is limited and if you don't return to your lifeless body before the timer runs out, you'll die for real. It's a novel element but it can get frustrating as I sometimes couldn't get into the areas that were marked as such. Perhaps I wasn't levitating properly, which you can also do in spirit form.
Overall, Mob of the Dead is lots of furious fun and I'd love to see how the quest plays out, but I don't see myself being able to get through it without getting the Gamertags of Chazz, Michael, Joe and Ray (or at least 3 out of the 4) to play along with me.
Activision and Treyarch bring another handful of interesting maps in Uprising. For me, the most original and entertaining element of Uprising has to be the Mob of the DeadZombies game. The voicework is well done and as informative as it is comical. The spirit aspect is an interesting twist on the gameplay. However, I prefer the madcap mayhem of Turned (see our review of Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Revolution, below) to the more complex, hold-off-the-waves-of-zombies-while-trying-to-achieve-a-goal gameplay of Mob of the Dead.
As for the maps, they felt a bit smaller than those in Revolution. I don't know what the maps' actual sizes are, but Revolution seemed to have more sniping scenarios, while Uprising has a more in-your-face feel, to me.
If you're not a dirty, nasty, camping sniper like myself, you may enjoy the more close-quarters fighting that Uprising presents. And if you're a Zombies fan and have any interest in Alcatraz or gangsters, you owe it to yourself to check out Mob of the Dead.