While I realize that there is still one more map for Zombies coming (possibly 2) I personally am not going to be able to get the next map pack until long after release, so Buried is basically the finale for Black Ops 2 Zombies for me. Because of this, and my raging love for the Zombies series, I just wanted to share my thoughts on the Black Ops 2 series of Maps.
Remember this is 100% Opinion.
I was initially impressed with Green Run. The scale was incredible, the new characters interesting, the buildables fun, and the bank and the weapons locker were genius. But the more I played it, the more clear it became that Green Run was a step down from almost all the maps that had come before it.
There was nothing interesting gameplay wise like the Hacker on Moon, it was not as open and traversable as Call of the Dead, it had nothing over the top like Ascension, there was no story behind it like Der Riese. And that's only the stuff it was lacking, the stuff it had made it even worse. The fog was necesarry for Graphics reasons, the annoying Denizens were not. They were not challenging, they were annoying and deaths caused by them felt. Spreading the wall weapons and perks so far apart wasn't necesarry either. Making the map so hard to traverse so if someone went down, they were almost unsaveable wasn't necesarry either. The lava was a cool post-apocalyptic effect, but it was horribly annoying for gameplay. Once again, it was cheap not a challenge. The Jet Gun was the most disappointing wonder weapon ever put into a map, and Tombstone Soda was a near useless perk given the maps size. The Pack-A-Punch was an overly tedious process to set-up. And finally, the Easter Egg was an annoying as all hell challege that relied more on luck than on puzzle solving.
Green Run did have some good ideas though. As I mentioned before, I thought the Bus and the Buildables were genius and fun aspects of gameplay. The easter egg areas, such as Nacht and the Hunters cabin, were cool things when you first discovered them in Tranzit. The Avogadro was actually an interesting, though not particularly challenging enemy to fight. And the map itself was still fun to play, despite the annoying features.
All in all, I think people are going to end up remembering Green Run as the "worst" Black Ops II Zombie map, though not necesarrily the worst map.
Though it wasn't exactly what most people, including me, were likely expecting, I do appreciate the work that went into Nuketown Zombies. The design and atmosphere of the map is great, as well as the fact that it had it's own unique system for spawning the Pack-a-Punch and the Perks on such a small map. The connections to Moon and Black Ops 1 were fun easter eggs, as were the connection to Green Run.
I think there are only two real disappointments with Nuketown Zombies. First, while I don't anyone was expecting a massive layout change, I do feel it's a little disappointing that It only encompasses the original Nuketown Map, and not some new secret area or at least more of the town. Second, with all the stuff the main maps, including Green Run, had, such as Easter Egg Missions, Characters, Interesting Gimmicks, and stuff like that, Nuketown Zombies seems like a smaller and almost boring offer at times.
One of the best things about Nuketown Zombies is the challege though. It plays very similarly to Nacht and Verruckt, and because of that it feels very balanced and fair, with no real cheap deaths or anything like that.
Overall, Nuketown wasn't the best of the Black Ops II Zombie maps. It's actually quite fun, and considering Treyarch could have taken the original Nuketown map and just stuck some Zombies and Perks in there, what we got is pretty cool.
That's the easiest way to sum up Die Rise. It's very eh. If you were to do a ranking of all 15 zombie maps, I'm willing to bet Die Rise would be right in the middle, if not close to it.
Die Rise did some things right. It removed the fog and denizens, putting us back into an actually traversable maps rather than locked into specific sectors. It added the incredibly fun and interesting Who's Who perk. It gave us an easter egg that apeared to have some sort of reward. And it gave us a super fun buildable in the form of the Trample Steam that would give you a huge adrenaline rush as you soared millions of feet above the city streets from building to building.
One of the more major thing's that Die Rise did was something that hadn't been done since World at War, it added new weapons to Zombies. The PDW-57, AN-94, and SVU-AS to be exact, and man did they rock. It was so exciting to know that Treyarch was adding new weapons to zombies again, especially after spending the entirety of Black Ops 1 with the exact same loadout literally every game. And on top of the normal weapons, Treyarch added a more traditional wonder weapon in the form of the ever fun Sliquifier.
Die Rise still had it's problems though. It still didn't feel like we were playing on a map that had any story or atmosphere. The new characters were still a bit difficult to get used to. The tight spaces often ended up feeling cheap rather than challenging. The randomly spawning perks and Pack-A-Punch affeced strategy creation. But these problems weren't really major seperately, but compunded they posed a bit of an issue.
So overall, Die Rise was a solid improvement over Green Run, but not a revolution for zombies as a whole. It's not exactly terrible or forgettable, but it probably won't ever be anyone's true favorite or top map.
Mob of the Dead was a pretty amazing treat for Zombie fans. It had the atmosphere, it had the story, it had creative traps, it had creative buildables, it had interesting puzzles, it had cool wonder weapons, it had several easter eggs, it had cool character, it had fun enemies, it had revolutionary game mechanics in the form of afterlife, and it had our lord and savior, the Golden Spork.
But there are two very major problems that prevent Mob of the Dead from being the best Zombie map, or even the best Black Ops II Zombie map. And those are the challenge, and the gameplay focus.
First off, Mob of the Dead is one of the easiest Zombie maps ever made and I chalk that up to the Campaign team not really knowing how much lee-way they should give the fans. Your first couple games of MotD will be hard, but once you've got the basic strategy down everything starts getting easier. And if you manage to obtain 4 perks, the Golden Spork, Hell's Retriever, and a Zombie Shield you will basically be invincible for the whole game. Afterlife even adds to this, as you rarely have to rely on teammates saving your life anymore considering you can do it yourself, and probably a better job of it. No Zombie map should ever be so easy it's boring, and Mob of the Dead fails in that regard.
Similarly, the map changes the focus of gameplay from Team based to Solo based. even when playing with other people, you rarely have to rely on them for anything. Only one part of the plane requires team work to get, and once you get it it never requires team work again. Everything can be done on your own, and Afterlife only makes it easier to ignore your teammates in favor of bettering your own position. Combine this with the lack of challenge, and you end up with a map that can become very boring, very quickly.
So while Mob of the Dead improved over Die Rise a lot, and I really mean a lot, it is not the best Black Ops II, or zombies in general, has to offer.
It's only been out for a week, but oh man, where do I begin. I love this map, and I feel it may go down as one of my favorites in the series.
Let's start with the story, excuse the language here, but Treyarch took the zombie story, butt-fucked it, tied it into a knot, and then lit it on fire with Gasoline. Despite this, Buried takes the shambles of the story that's left and makes a competent and interesting one with the new characters. One of the best parts is that my favorite character, Russman, goes from a stupid hobo to an actually interesting and deep character all because of the opening cutscene.
But the real important thing is the map design and the gameplay, and Buried has it all. Atmospere, a map that feels like it has a story, interesting and creative wonder weapons, changes to the normal style of zombies gameplay, dynamic aspects of the map, the most creative buildables to date, and most importantly, CHALLENGE THAT ACTUALLY FEELS LIKE CHALLENGE, NOT JUST CHEAP DEATHS.
Buried finally puts us back into a map that feels like it has a backstory, a purpose, and is an interesting and creative loacation. I would have never thought we'd be going to a Wild West town set under an African mining facility, let alone one complete with a dynamically changing headgemaze and ghosts.
The Wonder Weapons are also great fun. The Paralyzer at first appears to be a pretty basic Wonder Weapon, until you realize you can fly with it. Then suddenly it jumps into legend as you fly over barricades and kill trains all to save your friends lives. The Time Bomb is probably the biggest mix-up to gameplay in Buried, giving players a checkpoint and reset button to undo anythign that may have gone wrong since it was thrown.
The greatest thing about Buried though is how fun and challeging it is. Recently I've played about 4 games in a row with my friends that lasted 2 plus hours, and we were laughing and having a great time the entire go. There was no down time, we weren't discovering anything, we were just surviving and fighting zombies and having a great time because of that.
Overall, I feel Buried is in fact one of the best maps of the Zombies series, and so far the best of Black Ops II. I hope this doesn't change in the coming weeks as I get more "used" to the map. But at this point, I doubt it will.
So those are my feelings on this years Zombie season. When I finally get a chance to play DLC 4 (and possibly DLC 5 if rumors are true) I will give an update, thanks for reading!