CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS: ZOMBIES (XBOX 360)
Hello, everyone. This is a companion review to my previous review of Black Ops. In this segment, I'll be reviewing the new Zombies mode.
Several people, I recall, said quite simply of Black Ops: "If there are no zombies, I'm not buying it." Well, it's a Treyarch addition to the franchise, and, after the success of Nazi Zombies in World at War it was, in my opinion, pretty much inevitable.
Anyway, if you -- like me -- are a bit strapped for cash and couldn't afford the 'Hardened' edition of Black Ops then you only get two maps (for the moment): "Kino der Toten" (Theatre of the Dead) and "Five." I won't bother with a spoiler alert, because I think everybody knows about it by now -- Five is set in the Pentagon.
"Kino der Toten" feels a bit like "Der Riese" with less room for mistakes and less room to run. So in that regard, it feels a little like an interior "Der Riese" crossed with "Verrückt" (except that it's not quite as difficult as the latter).
I neglected to mention that there are now 'crawlers.' Or... nobody really knows what they're called. In-game, they're called 'Abominations,' but online I've heard them referred to as anything from 'Crawlers,' to 'Nova Zombies,' to 'Those Things.' So chances are, if you hear a 12 year old screaming down your headset, "Argh! It's those things!" chances are, he's referring to either Crawler-Zombies... or boobs. (Hey, I was afraid of boobs when I was 12.)
Other than that, it's a rather unremarkable map. There are a couple of big rooms where you can hold off zombies, but to counter that, there are some very narrow corridors (fine, 'hallways') where zombies quite literally jump from the ledge above you.
On the other hand, we have "Five" which is set in the Pentagon. See, no spoiler marks again. It's set in the Pentagon! But, you probably already knew that. (And if you didn't, well, now you do.)
In 'KdT,' you play as one of the four original Zombies crew: Dempsey, Dr. Richtofen, Nikolai, or Takeo. In "Five," you play as one of four historically significant characters -- John F. Kennedy, Robert McNamara (JFK's Secretary of Defense), Richard Nixon (JFK's political rival and successor), and Fidel Castro (Cuban dictator).
"Five" starts you off in a conference room -- a fairly nice area with a few Zombie spawn points, access to a shotgun and an M14. It's also the location of the stupid Table Glitch, which is the bane of my (and other serious Zombie Slayers') existence. It's a good place to hold off for a while, but eventually you'll need to move to get some better weapons.
Outside, lo and behold, is the elevator. This takes you to the DEFCON Room -- so called because it has the levers to raise/lower the DEFense CONdition (you see what the clever clogs US Abbreviation Team did there?). I'm pretty sure that's not how it works in real life ("Mr President! We're under attack from zombies! I'm going to pull the DEFCON 3 lever!"), but then again a Zombie Apocalypse scenario isn't exactly realistic either.
Lowering the DEFCON Level from One to Five (that's how it works in real life: that US Reverse-Numbering Team at it again!) will open up a secret war room full of weapons (like the one seen in the opening cinematic). In order to leave some stuff for you to figure out for yourselves, I won't tell you how to get the Pack-A-Punch or some of the other Easter Eggs/Secrets in the level.
The Presidential Team (as I call it), though, spews out hilarious quotes whilst beheading Zombies with 7.62mm NATO rounds -- I've never laughed so hard as when I had insufficient points to buy a weapon and heard JFK say something along the lines of "What we need is economic reform!" Hearing Richard Nixon blame the entire situation on the 'damn Communists' is also pretty funny.
Overall, "Five" is my favourite of the two maps. It's pretty funny to think that you're playing as a member of the U.S. Government, protecting the woefully unprepared Defense Department from a Zombie Invasion. (I hope the real Pentagon might be more prepared to deal with zombies... but unfortunately, I doubt it.)
It's really fun to finally have modern(ish) weapons to make the undead... un-undead (re-dead?), and the M14 is fantastic for making heads fly. And in both maps, you can get good SMGs like the Kiparis and the Spectre quite early on: they're super-efficient at killing zombies, but can run out of ammo quite quickly. Unfortunately, there are no real good machine guns to replace the Browning M1919 or the MG42 of the previous installment. Additionally, the odds of getting a good weapon from the Magic Box are stacked heavily against you, and Pack-a-Punched weapons seem less powerful than I think they should be.
Finally, what's quite nice is that the design of the maps forces to you to keep moving and keep adapting your strategy, as opposed to "Der Riese," which was awesome but permitted you to camp in a corner until you ran out of ammunition.
Story: 10/10 (Nothing in Zombies is without significance; I'm sure Treyarch will fit "Five" in with the story somehow.)
Voice Acting: 10/10 (JFK impersonation is spot-on, dialogue is fantastic.)
Sound Design: 9/10 (Same as those effects found in the main game.)
Soundtrack: 8/10 (Not much music, per se, but there's some creepy ambiance which fits Zombies perfectly.)
Replay Value: 10/10 (Nothing says "fun" like shootin' Zombies with a gun! -- And that, Escapists, is why I don't write poetry.)
FINAL VERDICT: 94/100 - EXCELLENT
(NOTE: final score is not an average)