It’s already April which means that it’s just about time for Activision Blizzard to start winding up the hype machine for its next Call of Duty game. But while all eyes are on the company to see whether its next tent pole release in the billion dollar franchise will straddle the divide between the current consoles and the next-gen, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is still plugging away. The latest downloadable expansion for the game, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Uprising, will slip out to Xbox 360 on April 16.
The four new maps are:
- Magma: Described as a modern Japanese village being consumed by volcanoes. Unlike the other maps in the pack, as well as the other maps already available, “Magma” doesn’t quite seem to share the same theme of a futuristic world at war. That isn’t a bad thing though.
- Encore: Set amongst the wreckage of a deserted music festival in London and features plenty of run-and-gun opportunities.
- Vertigo: Set in a high-tech lab in India, this map offers multiple planes for vertical fighting.
- Studio: Located on a Hollywood movie lot, this one is a remake, or “reimagining” of the “Firing Range” map from the original Black Ops.
The pack includes all the things that have kept Activision rolling in cold hard cash for nearly six years now, with a plethora of multiplayer maps and yet another Call of Duty Zombies mode to tackle. The Zombies mode in Uprising, however, is a little bit different than developer Treyarch’s usual blitz of shooting the undead over and over again.
The new mode is actually a new campaign called “Mob of the Dead.” It stars four mobsters serving time in Alcatraz who are plotting to escape. There is, as might be expected, a zombie outbreak on the lonely little prison island outside San Francisco, and the made men have to brawl their way out using homemade weapons. That is not your average Call of Duty zombies scenario.
Neither is the cast. Activision hired some of the most recognizable names from mob movies and television to provide the voices of its four characters, including Goodfellas’ Ray Liotta. Liotta is a video game regular, going back to his star turn in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. He’s joined by other big names, though, like Joe Pantoliano ( The Goonies, The Sopranos) and Chazz Palminteri, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of a mobster in Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway. Filling out the cast is Reservoir Dogs’ Michael Madsen, who has also starred in some notable organized crime games, like the original Yakuza on PlayStation 2.
While Activision could be accused of repeating itself with the Call of Duty series – all signs point to a November release for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 – it’s impressive how willing it is to experiment within the confines of its best-seller. “Mob of the Dead” is a no-brainer, business wise. People love mob movies and they love zombies. Throwing together a Hollywood cast for a downloadable expansion to a game whose marketability is fading is an impressive move, though.
[Updated]: The map names have been added, and an error incorrectly identifying Chazz Palminteri has been corrected.