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Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Salvation
Score: 80%
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Local); 2 - 18 (Online)
Genre: Action/First Person Shooter/Online

Closing Another Book:

Well, it's that time of year again, when a Call of Duty game reaches the end of its yearly release cycle and a new one is poised to take over. Yes, with Infinite Warfare mere weeks away, it's time to bid farewell to last year's effort with its final downloadable content pack. So how is Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Salvation? If you played Descent, Eclipse, or Awakening, you know exactly how it is. That's always been the thing about Call of Duty content packs that makes them so difficult to review; they are consistent throughout, in terms of what is offered and the quality of it as a whole. So don't take the fact that Salvation isn't necessarily better or worse than what came before as a negative. It's good stuff. Just...samey good stuff! And there's nothing wrong with that.


Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Salvation continues the trend of three wholly new maps and a retooled classic from the series' past. Only this time, two of them are completely new and the other two are reimaginings. I'm not sure I'm completely on board with this template in theory; given the franchise's tendency to offer high-priced downloadable content, it can be seen as almost overt laziness. However, if you're a nostalgia junkie who has been with this series throughout the years, it probably won't bother you. Hell, it might even enamor you.

Citadel is housed in the ruins of an ancient castle. It's long-abandoned, but it retains some of the quirks of those who once inhabited it. Its overgrown outdoor sections are evocative of gothic horror and indoor segments that blur the line between the work of nature and human artifice provide a delicious sense of contrast. Fantasy tropes abound here, and fans of A Song of Ice and Fire and Indiana Jones, in particular, might find this to their liking.

Micro is the Call of Duty map that will be remembered for its uncanny ability to elicit authentic "WTF"s from each combatant that set foot on it for the first time. You see, this map is what you get when you cross this franchise with its obvious sister franchise Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. This map is literally a table full of picnic food, drink, and supplies. And you are miniaturized. So you dash around cupcakes, wallrun on the coffee maker, slip through soft drink cartons, and under the gas grill. Oh, and there are bugs, too. It's weird and brilliant.

Outlaw is a reimagined version of Standoff, the Black Ops II map set between China and Kyrgyzstan. However, what was once a border town writhing in its death throes is now a ghost town... of the western variety. Rampaging through abandoned saloons and across the muddy thoroughfare is absurdist fun, even if it makes you remember that, as of this writing, we still have to wait a year for Red Dead Redemption 2...

Rupture is a reimagined version of Outskirts, the World at War map set in one of the numerous wrecked cities in World War II Europe. The twist here is that it's a future tech facility built with the express purpose of fixing the atmosphere. It's neat-looking as it is, but there's a practical addition to it, as well. If you play your cards right, you can assume control of one of four P.A.W.W.S. mechs, here named "Manticores."


Naturally, with the end of this downloadable content cycle comes the end of this entry's Zombies campaign. Revelations brings the mystery of Dr. Monty (Malcolm McDowell) full circle, with our heroes Richtofen, Nikolai, Takeo, and Dempsey taking a journey that's out of sight, out of mind, and, well, full of shambling, rotting corpses that they must re-kill.

Revelations one-ups Gorod Krovi with an out-of-this-world setting that goes beyond the phantasmagorical. The House, as it's called, is a twisted, dimension-ripping labyrinth that seems to have borne the brunt of an exploding rainbow. I haven't seen structures on this level of strange and sumptuous beauty since DmC: Devil May Cry and, if you'll forgive the indulgence, the painted dreamscapes of What Dreams May Come. As far as the Zombies action goes, it's what you'd expect. Personally, I've never found the gameplay that satisfying or rewarding, but it has an audience and plays to it without missing a note.


And thus ends our coverage of Call of Duty: Black Ops III. True, it's been a mostly predictable ride, but it's been no less thrilling for it. That thing I said about consistency being a hallmark of this series? It's a double-edged sword. The times during which the Call of Duty franchise was capable of surprising and innovating might very well be forever behind us, but in playing it safe, it retains both its identity and its status as a quality product. And Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Salvation does nothing to threaten that constant.

Check back next month for our review of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and let's take another yearlong trip through steady but sure first person shooter competency!

Activision provided me with a copy of the game to review. The opinions I share are my own.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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