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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Ascendance
Score: 80%
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 18 (Online)
Genre: Action/First Person Shooter/Online

Return to the Fold:

Here we are, halfway through the cycle of downloadable content for the latest installment of Activision's hugely successful shooter franchise. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Ascendance, like most of the downloadable content released for this series, still features an audacious, borderline outrageous price point (only slightly mitigated by the purchase of a Season Pass), but between the new maps and the new Exo Zombies episode, the content offered here meets the standard of quality for Sledgehammer's solo effort. Fortunately, that standard is high.

Oh, the Places You'll Go:

Four maps. No more, no less. Such has always been the case with this series, and it will likely continue thusly.

Climate is a map set inside a giant bio dome; an interesting choice for an installment that is set in the future. The natural world meets the artificial in this map, and the disparity is totally welcome. It's great to rush through small pools and climb up rock formations to gain the upper hand. The map's circular layout and handful of landmarks make it a joy to learn. A deadly hazard appears halfway into each match, as the dome's water purification systems fail, which somehow means all the water turns into acid that eats through you in seconds.

Chop Shop takes place in an Exo factory that is, shall we say, not quite on the level. This environment is sophisticated, but grimy. It's filled with assembly lines and laboratories that give the action a welcome sense of place, much like the rest of the maps. The Scorestreak du jour for Chop Shop is the Advanced Repulsion Turret, which is essentially a microwave. Have fun.

Site 244 is a massive map, much bigger than I'm used to seeing in Call of Duty games. The gimmick is that an alien spacecraft has crashed at scenic (and convenient) Mount Rushmore. I highly recommend playing this map as part of the Grapple playlist; the verticality here is virtually unmatched. The Scorestreak here is the Super Serum, an orbital care package that endows the user with increased health and the ability to see through walls. But there's a catch; players with the Super Serum leave a ghostly green trail.

I think my favorite of the new maps is Perplex, a compact map set in multi-layered apartment complex in Sydney, Australia. It could not have worked in any other Call of Duty game, though. You see, the building is five stories tall, but it's built in such a way that it's easy to scramble your way to the top quickly. On top of that, it's one of the prettiest maps I've seen in the series.

No Shambling Allowed:

Phrases like "more zombies" doesn't really elicit any emotions from me. For me, the undead fad has quickly become boring and borderline uncool. I find them uninteresting. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare found a way to help keep them interesting: they equipped them with Exos...

Ascendance features the Exo Zombies map Infection. It's a solid map with tons of options for exploration and improvement. Interactive kiosks that allow you to buy new weapons and access more areas are well-placed, and so are spawn points for the zombies themselves. If you find one at your six-o'clock, it's your fault. Bring friends. You will need them.

Bleeding Us Dry:

I've said it countless times, and I'll say it countless more times: $14.99 is way too much for a pack of four maps (five if you count Zombies). Even if the maps are excellent, there's just not enough content to warrant that kind of price tag. People eat these up, so there's no reason for them to change it. From a business perspective, it works beautifully, and they should continue with this strategy. From a buyer's perspective, it's still crazy.

At least the maps are great and the zombies content continues to satisfy. If you're jonesing for a reason to return to duty, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Ascendance is just that.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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