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

It Begins:

It's that time of the year! No, not that time of the year. The other one. Okay, so there are two times of the year: one is when a new Call of Duty game drops, and the other is when downloadable content begins to pour in. So how good is Call of Duty: Black Ops III -- Awakening? Well, quite good. It comes with the same breadth of offerings (that is to say, trending towards scant) and is offered at the same price (trending towards pricey). If you've invested in any DLC packages in this franchise, you already have a good idea of what you're getting into. I would rate Awakening a cut above most of the others, however.


Treyarch have outdone themselves in terms of map design and theming. The competitive multiplayer maps in Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Awakening are bizarre, diverse, and full of strategic potential, and they're a joy to learn. They're so out there that you'll be tempted to stop and just take in the atmosphere... at least until your skull gets ventilated.

Splash is my favorite of the new maps, and perhaps I should have seen that coming; I love anything related to theme parks, and while water parks aren't really my thing, they're close enough. It's abandoned, but certain parts of it seem to be in decent repair; hollowed-out portions of water slides serve as excellent chokepoints, and the multitude of shops and special areas would be fun enough to explore even without having to gun down everyone else.

Gauntlet is probably the most diverse map in any Call of Duty game to date, and that's explicitly by design. The military has to prepare its personnel for all manner of conditions, and this specialized facility simulates three environments: urban, jungle, and tundra. Making your way between them in moments can be startling, but it's undeniably thrilling.

Rise is set in Zürich, Switzerland. The weather is a mess, but you can seek solace in the labyrinthine construction site that houses the majority of the map. There are plenty of opportunities to get not only tactical but vertical, which often leads to some of the most fast-paced encounters the series has ever offered.

Skyjacked is something of a homecoming for Black Ops II players. But where Hijacked was set on a yacht, Skyjacked is set on a police VTOL hovering quite a distance above the urban landscape of Zürich. The layout bears a ton of similarities to its inspiration, but the empty horizon and vertiginous heights make it stand out.


Call of Duty: Black Ops III's Zombies Mode hit a high point with the Lovecraft-themed Shadows of Evil, but as the mode always tends to do, it lost my interest fairly quickly. I understand the appeal; surviving waves of enemies while exploring an environment rich with secrets is inherently fun. But the undead bore me, and I fear it might be a while before anything zombie-related elicits more than an eye roll and a yawn.

Der Eisendrache (German for "The Iron Dragon") abandons the 1940's noir trappings of Shadows of Evil and continues the Nazi horror themes of The Giant and the maps from Treyarch's older Call of Duty games. Nikolai, Richtofen, Dempsey, and Takeo find themselves assaulting a secret facility housed in Griffin Castle, a fortress atop the Austrian Alps. Suffice it to say, it's not a very nice place; horrible things happened here, and horrible things will continue to happen here unless something is done.


I've always got to call out the price tag on these releases, as I never believe they are justified by the quantity of content on hand. Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Awakening's quality comes closer than any previous release to staying that criticism, but it's still not enough in my eyes. If you feel that you've gotten your money's worth for any previous Call of Duty downloadable content packs in the past, this is an easy buy. It plays to the strengths of the gameplay, is extremely well-themed, and gives you several good reasons to keep coming back for more.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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