Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops Shangri-La Zombie map
A part of the recently released Annihilation map pack was the Shangri-La Zombie map – set in mysterious land loaded with spike traps and puzzles is something all Zombie hunters aren’t going to be familiar with. The map resembles an Aztec ruin, as there are old temples and mystical drawings on the floor and walls. Of course, you can interact with most of these drawings, after all this is the Zombie mode we’re talking about here, where interaction is key to its success.
Let me take you on a visual tour of the map. First we have the spawn area which offers two direct routes heading through two trap rooms. One of the rooms has a spike trap in the door, which will trigger if you run across it, whilst the other room has a sticky mud floor, that will drag you down and slow your movement speed. Both traps can work to your advantage against zombies, so you can use the spike trap as a way of creating a barrier between you and the zombies for a couple of seconds, giving you time to take out as many as possible. However, you’ll always have to watch your back, as the next area is right behind. From the spike trap room you can head down into the underground caverns, where you’ll find the power room eventually after buying through several doors and obstacles. This goes the same for the other route you can take from the start, although this route is longer and therefore harder to take. It does offer some great locations to hold out such as the wooden rope bridge, which has only two sides to cover.
This time around the method of activating the power has been adapted to fit in with the map. We have two levers which must be pulled in order to let the water flow through and power the wheel, which I assume starts the electricity generator. This will activate all of the perk machines, in which there all seven perks available this time. This looks set to continue, if not, there will be more added in future Zombie content. What is interesting this time around are the random spawning set on these machines, which makes it harder to determine a plan to where you’re going to go. This is the same case for the mystery box, so you’ll be left hunting around the map for a blue light in the sky.
As for methods of getting around, we have quite a few variations to get from A to B. There’s a minecart that can be used to get from the spike trap room to the waterfall area. This requires power and you also need to buy the exit point, so you can use it. To actually use it for a quick escape costs you 250 points, which isn’t much in terms of Zombie’s currency. Then there’s the geysers, which can be used for getting back up to the surface from the underground caverns. This is a great way of getting out as fast as possible because you don’t have to pay anything to use these and there are quite a few scattered around. We also have water slide to please the child within us, which once again requires the power to be activated. This will take you from the mud trap area right down into a room underground where you can find one of three meteor rocks to start the hidden soundtrack.
I also forgot to mention one of the best traps on the map, which is the waterfall trap. If you go round the back of the large rock under the waterfall it will cause a large surge of water to flood the area below. This takes both your teammates and zombies to the back of the pool, so if you’re smart enough you can get out of the water and shoot the hopeless wretches in the head from a distance or just watch them fall off the ledge if that’s your thing.
We’ve always been blessed with new weapons on each new Zombie map and Shangri-La is no different. We have something called the Spikemore, which is a new variant of the Claymore, but has spikes covered over it. If you’ve been playing Duke Nukem Forever recently, there’s also a Shrink Gun to create mini zombies that you can run into and kick or you could just shoot their large heads. I wasn’t that impressed by the new weapons as I was with Call of the Dead or Ascension, but at least there were new weapons included.
In addition to new weapons, there are some fresh zombie types brought to the battlefield. The Shrieker, Napalm and monkey zombies mix things up a bit and require more time when killing them. The main reason for this is the consequence of them coming up close and near you. Even if you do manage to kill the flaming Napalm zombie you’ve still got to stand far away to do so because it causes a napalm explosion around it, you’ll also get an achievement if you manage to kill it without taking damage. As for the Shrieker zombie, you’ve just got to kill it as quickly as possible. It’s only attack consists of blinding you with its disorientating scream, so it isn’t really hard to fight against. Monkey zombies aren’t that difficult to handle either, although during a large wave of zombies they can quite literally get under you’re feet, which can have deadly consequence for you and your team. During some rounds these monkeys will also carry perks on them, in which they cycle through as they’re alive. The perk symbol left above their head when they die is what you’ll be rewarded with, which would have been a great feature for the Ascension map, instead of monkeys that steal your perks.
I was somewhat disappointed with the Shangri-La map pack, mainly due to its lack of map areas for holding out against zombies. Previous Zombie maps have provided us with some areas, for instance we had the lighthouse area on Call of the Dead and then we had the roof on Ascension. This map seems to focus on keeping you on your toes and to me seems to take this idea of going around and hutning for buttons and switches too far. If you’re one for easter eggs there’s a really long and difficult one to complete on Shangri-La, which involves the focusing stone and a visit to the past to pair up slabs with symbols found the floor. You’re also against the clock whilst in the past, which can put more pressure on you, which isn’t great for a mode which is supposed to be relaxing and take a break from the hardcore multiplayer mode.
The new addition of zombies was great and I also found out that this was the first map to include female zombies, which was quite a shock considering the amount of Zombie maps released so far for Black Ops. This isn’t by far one of the best Zombie maps released by Treyarch and in my opinion that was Ascension because it had lunar landers for flying around the map and plenty of areas to defend. Treyarch appears to be missing the point with these Zombie maps now, instead they are piling as many new features into one map, which makes it harder for Zombie lovers to actually play the mode how they want to play it. The maps are still packed with quality and there’s no problem with the variation of gameplay, but I would admire a simpler map similar to Kino der Toten in a future map pack.
Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops Shangri-La Zombie map Results
What we liked:
New zombie types and weapons
Another new setting for the Zombie mode
Map layout is easy to learn after a few games
What we disliked:
Tasks such as matching the stones
Lack of areas to hold off
Too many unnecessary new features