It's been over three months since First Strike was released for Black Ops. At last, Escalation is here on XBL exclusively for a short time, again at the price of 1200MSP.
Call of the Dead: 4.5/5 I really, really like Call of the Dead, and that's saying something, considering I'm not much of a Zombie fan. While the George Romero guy is a bit more of a nuisance than anything else - I guess that's why he's there to begin with - the map plays well. A couple of the added achievements are tough and will require you to use a YouTube tutorial, but Call of the Dead is fun - it's laid out nicely, and the few newly added weapons are a welcome addition.
Convoy: 4.5/5 I actually kind of.. REALLY like Convoy the more I play it.. This is about a mediumish sized map - there are two pretty distinct sides to it, both of which are really different. Then, of course, you have the area in the middle with the blown out express way. This map kind of really feels really random - there's not much if any symmetry at all, and... I really like Convoy the more I play it.
Hotel: 4.25/5 When I first saw Hotel, I figured the map would be a medium/small-ish map for some reason. Well. I was wrong. Hotel's one of the bigger maps in Black Ops, and that's kind of what keeps this map from a higher rating. There are a bunch of buildings, highs, lows, a working elevator, and a nice casino area. A map that this reminds me of Waterwork in Call of Duty 4 ONLY because of the upper area that face each other on each side of the map - thankfully, this map's nothing like that one in any other regard. Hotel's downfall is its size - it could be a Black Ops classic, but it seems like Treyarch tried too hard with this one.
Stockpile: 3.75/5 This map looks like it was based off of part of the Vorkuta missions in single-player. Stockpile is an average map, at best. That's about all I can say for it. A small/medium map with a feature of a controllable door. There's really nothing exciting about this map. It feels like it should be in Call of Duty 2, to be honest, or maybe even Battlefield. Nothing to jump up and down about here.
Zoo: 4/5 I give this map a four, and not higher, because it looks and feels a LOT like Carnival from Modern Warfare 2... I thought that the SECOND I saw it. The whole atmosphere of the map just screamed that at me. It's laid out differently in some areas, but a major map feature that was on Carnival, the roller coaster, is here again, in the form of what I think is a monorail..? I'm not really sure. But it really just feels like I pretty much paid for the same map twice. Had Carnival never been released, I'd've given this a higher rating.
Is it worth it? In my opinion, if you were to have to decide between the maps in First Strike versus Escalation, I'd pretty easily have to pick Escalation. While Stockpile is a very, very average map, Hotel is great, Convoy's fun, and Zoo, while it reminds me of Carnival, is also pretty good. In First Strike, I only really like Stadium. Berlin Wall was decent too, but Discovery and Kowloon were just meh. As for the Zombies choice, you can't really go wrong. I think Call of Dead is a bit better than Ascension, but I'd definitely recommend both. In short? Escalation > First Strike.
+: Call of the Dead is a must-play for Zombie fans, overall solid multiplayer maps.
-: $15 is going to always be a downfall for some, two of the achievements for Call of the Dead are a bit ridiculous.