A little under three months after the release of Black Ops, the game gets its first map pack released for a short-time exclusively on the Xbox 360. If you don't know already, it features four multiplayer maps: "Berlin Wall", "Discovery", "Kowloon", and "Stadium", as well as a new Zombie map called "Ascension."
Ascension: 4.5/5 "Ascension" is the one and only Zombie map in the First Strike Map Pack. I've only played it about four times, but already, I'm enjoying it. I'm not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure it takes place at a Russian nuclear facility. In my opinion, Ascension blows Kino der Toten out of the water, and may even be better than Five. I really like the map design, and it's relatively easy to find yourself around after two or three goes on it.
Berlin Wall: 4.25/5 As you could PROBABLY guess, "Berlin Wall" is supposed to take place in Berlin, Germany, near the Berlin Wall. Snow's on the ground, and turrets are ready to fire at those who walk into no-man's-land, which is a little strip of land (which is red on your mini-map) that ensures death if you can't run through it fast enough. The map is, I would say, medium to medium-large in size... with a good amount of areas to run to and around. To me, a bit, in a way, there are parts of this map that remind me of "Skidrow" from Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer. But anyways, this is a fair map. It's got some windows and pretty open areas for snipers, but still has some areas where it's pretty close quarters, encouraging others to use SMGs and assault rifles. I guess the downfall of this map is simply the fact that it seems to encourage camping a bit more than most maps. I've played Berlin Wall four or five times, and none of the times I've played it on Team Deathmatch has a team reached the 7500 score. Regardless of this, Berlin Wall is, in my opinion, an above average map, and a welcome addition to Black Ops.
Discovery: 4/5 This map, simply, takes place at an abandoned Nazi base. I must say, it's starting to grow on me. At first, I got a really bad impression, because a back quarter of the map - I can't really explain without saying the side with the catwalks, even if that's not what they really are - seems to house a good number of snipers. Not only there, but in many other buildings on the map, you will find a lot of campers in windows. I guess that shouldn't be unexpected, as people like to camp windows regardless of the map, but it's quite frustrating on Discovery especially. I've found that the absolute best way to navigate this map is to really be on the outside of it as much as possible to pick of snipers from the side, as well as anyone trying to cozy themself in a camping spot. Discovery is really, to me, a pretty average map to the average Call of Duty player. However, if you're a sniper, you're likely to like this one more than me.
Kowloon: 4/5 Kowloon takes place on rainy rooftops in Kowloon, China. This map features something no other Black Ops map does - a zipline. Two of them. They are what you'd think, they zip you from one area of the map to another. While that's all fine and good, while doing this, you are vulnerable to enemy fire. I must say, even though this is a pretty cool idea, I don't see it really ever working out unless you're in a situation where it's 1-on-1 on Search and Destroy and you need to plant or defuse a bomb quickly... it's just not very practical. With all the amount of shooting going around on map, it's almost impossible to use the zipline without at least being shot at. To me, Treyarch could have made it more useful by allowing those with a pistol secondary to be able to shoot while ziplining. Anyways, on to the map itself and not just the damn ziplines. Kowloon's a medium sized map that's pretty packed in with very few really open areas - it's definitely a run-and-gunner's kind of map. The map's template in my opinion isn't exactly pretty - dull, rainy, blah - but the map design isn't bad at all.
Stadium: 4.5/5 Stadium takes place at what I THINK is a Russian hockey arena. This is probably my favorite map out of this pack, and I may be the only one that thinks so, seeing as how I see a lot of people complaining about it. It's the smallest map from the pack, and the most action-packed. Stadium is the REAL run-and-gun map from First Strike. While Kowloon has that feel through most of it, Stadium features virtually no worthwhile sniping area, which I can approve of. There are a few little windows and whatnot a sniper could sit at, but they don't give a real good vantage point for them, and the map's just not big enough, but I can definitely approve of that. To me, it's a shame there isn't more to do inside the stadium itself, but the map is still a lot of fun.
"First Strike" is a decent first map pack release from Treyarch - more than decent for the Black Ops snipers. "Berlin Wall", "Discovery," and even some bits of "Kowloon" all have pretty good sniping areas. Me not being a sniper, as said a bit above, I'm not COMPLETELY satisfied with this map pack, but it's quite alright. Even if there aren't any instant-classics from the four multiplayer maps, "Ascension" is a Zombie map that will certainly be played the hell out of by many for months to come.
Basically, if you're tired of Zombies, then 1200msp for 4 multiplayer maps may make you think two or three times before buying this pack. If you only like Zombies, odds are you won't pay 1200msp for this pack, unless you're desperate for a new Zombie locale. It's really unfortunate that they don't have separate packs for multiplayer maps and Zombie maps, but I guess Treyarch/Activision figures this is the best way to make their moolah. Lucky for me, I like multiplayer, and don't mind Zombies, so I didn't so much mind paying 1200msp. A lot of people will complain about the $15 price on this pack, but really, I don't see the problem in spending a bit of money to give a game you already enjoy playing something new - it gives the game staying power. And when you get a map pack like this, I really don't mind.
+: "Ascension" may be the best Zombie map in Black Ops, Good pack for snipers, pretty decent variety in the maps.
-: 1200msp seems a bit high but it's not a big deal, no new guns/camos/titles or anything like that.