Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Eclipse (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 13.05.2016

Review for Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Eclipse on PlayStation 4

Shooting random online strangers in the face (albeit in digital form) can occasionally get a bit stale, so it's always nice when a few fresh environments get added to the rotation to mix it up and help maintain the longevity of the experience. While some gamers balk at the thought of paying top dollar for DLC, offering the option to purchase additional content has become a fairly standard practice that provides an additional revenue stream to the developers, helping alleviate potential losses from the second-hand market. Thankfully, the DLC for Call of Duty has definitely upped its perceived value since Activision started including episodic content for the 'Zombies' mode alongside the multiplayer arenas. All of which neatly leads to Eclipse, the latest content drop for Treyarch's Black Ops III, which, thanks to the Sony/Activision partnership currently in play, sees the PS4 faithful getting the goods a full month ahead of the Xbox warriors.

Besides being a bit of a mouthful, 'Zetsubou no Shima' also happens to be the name of the second chapter in the on-going battle against reanimated corpses, also known as the 'Zombie' mode. The opening cinematic partially fills in the story gaps between episodes as four luckless survivors are seen as being held captive on the bridge of a Japanese warship and facing an almost certain death at the hands of a firing squad. Quite what transpired to get them into this predicament is something that only the elite few that made it to the bitter end of the Awakening storyline will know, which is a particular shame considering they were last seen high-tailing it around a draughty German castle. Nevertheless, it's a classic case of 'out of the frying pan, into the fire' when an impromptu escape sees the crew successfully evade execution, only to wash up on the shores of a small Pacific island, home to a creepy Japanese World War II base surrounded by a swamp.

It appears that Element 115 (the substance responsible for the zombie outbreak) is heavily present on the island and has seeped into the local ecosystem with disastrous consequences, so while the usual array of shuffling rotters are as plentiful and relentless as they have ever been, they are joined by giant spiders that scurry about, firing webbing from a great distance that will occasionally seal up pathways in a bid to separate the team. There are also man-eating plants to worry about, as well as a variety of spores that transcend the species barrier whenever they come into contact with the zombies to create a horrific glowing, yeti-like creature, tougher than the bog-standard zombie, and a real pain to despatch.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Eclipse on PlayStation 4

Occasionally, a downed walker will drop an oversized seed that can planted in one of a few special sites scattered around the island where it will grow into … well … who knows, since actually surviving long enough to find out is harder than imagined. Herein lies the problem with the Zombie mode - it's too hard for the average player to do well in and there is no option to make it any easier, meaning that despite its intriguing premise, the numerous Easter Eggs and secrets will likely remain hidden for the vast majority that try to uncover them, and most will likely lose interest after a couple of failed attempts. It's a good job that there are four new multiplayer maps bundled into the package to make the ineffective zombie hunters feel a little better about their purchase.

Spire is set so far in the future that a floating airport terminal is considered the norm, although its very existence does put forth the following conundrum: how exactly do the passengers actually get up there to catch their flights? Another flight from a ground based airport? Helicopter? A very long ladder? Meh, it's the future - they will have no doubt figured it out somehow. As crazy a setting as it sounds, in some ways it continues the precedent set by the similarly gravity defying 'Skyjacked' map from the first DLC bundle, given that anybody foolhardy enough to mount a surprise attack, by wall running the extensive outer perimeters, do so at the risk of plummeting through the clouds to a certain, messy death.

It's a sizeable arena that aesthetically has a bright, clean appearance, strangely reminiscent of the Mirrors Edge series and, as might be expected from an airport, there are numerous lounges, bars, shop, and stairwells spread over multiple levels that can make for some claustrophobic, close-quarter gun fights. The wide open customer check-in halls provide a more spacious arena to lock horns with the opposition, overlooked by two prime sniping spots at either end, which are easy to forget about in the heat of the battle but almost always guarantee a bullet in the back of the head for the less wary trooper.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Eclipse on PlayStation 4

Rift sounds like it would be a complete logistical nightmare to build in a real world setting as it's a futuristic military base precariously balanced over an active volcano. Despite the obvious savings on heating bills, why would such a compound even be necessary? It's probably best not to dwell on the question too deeply as 'deep' is the enemy of the average COD player. Of the quartet of new multiplayer arenas in Eclipse, it's probably the weakest, but this is more a testament to the particularly high quality of the other three maps in the package rather than any failings on the level designer's part.

It's a fairly compact symmetrical map packed with numerous tight corridors and chambers that promote a 'run 'n' gun' style of play, although snipers can still get in on the action via a couple of windows either side of the central objective area that overlook the ensuing power struggle. The suspended rail lines that flank either side of the map provide the perfect opportunity for wall-running pros to sneak into the enemy spawn point, but don't forget about that volcano down below that will guarantee a fiery demise for the less competent. Visually, it doesn't go too overboard with detail and looks like it would be more at home in Killzone rather than Call of Duty.

Verge is by far the standout of the bunch and sees Treyarch hitting its recycling quota for this package by revisiting 'Banzai,' a map that first opened for business in World at War way back in 2007. While the original reflected the drabness and despair of World War II, this modernised, barely recognisable, remix flies far into the post-apocalyptic future to deliver a Mad Max meets Borderlands setting that's both large in scale and rich in detail. Initially, it can be quite a confusing map to navigate as it's probably one of the most layered maps COD has seen for some time, with numerous little interconnecting tunnel systems, outbuildings, and waterfalls.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Eclipse on PlayStation 4

The majority of the action takes place on the long bridge that provides the main focus point for all of the objective-based games, providing a long line of sight from end to end that's sporadically broken up by cover. Beneath the bridge appears to be a water processing plant that, at one side, is a great spot to lie in wait for an ambush and, to the other side, provides the opportunity to mount a stealthy attack into enemy territory by either wall running or swimming across. Given the number of naturally occurring choke points, it's a map that really comes into its element when playing host to Safeguard matches.

Knockout seems an odd moniker for a picturesque, mountaintop Shaolin temple setting but it's no doubt a reference to the seminal seventies Bruce Lee martial arts epic, Enter the Dragon. It doesn't feel like a traditional Call of Duty map as it's almost too pretty, with the customary dirt, filth, fire-damaged buildings, burnt out wreckage, military compounds, and so on, replaced by shallow lily ponds, twittering birdsong, cherry blossom floating gently through the breeze, and traditional Chinese architecture, all framed by a gorgeous vista. In fact, it's a real shame that it's almost impossible to enjoy the vibrant, highly detailed views without getting battered on the back of the head by an over-zealous opponent but, hey, that's COD for you.

The traditional three-lane design is at play here, with the hedges, low walls, and ornaments almost giving it a maze-like quality. At one side of the map lies a pair of pits filled with deadly, sharpened bamboo canes, surrounding an island that can only be reached by wall running the gaps. It feels very reminiscent of that infamous stage in the original Mortal Kombat, especially when opponents run at each other from opposite ends, as at least one of them is destined to become a human shish kebab. This area proves to be quite the hotly contested zone as it provides an alternate route to the large central courtyard that becomes the focus of the majority of the objective-based modes. Shaolin Monks aren't known for partying, so it might surprise some to learn that there is actually a small nightclub tucked away in a not-so-quiet corner of the map, with blood on the dance floor being a worryingly common problem. Come for the meditation… stay for the murder.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Eclipse on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Any Call of Duty: Black Ops III fans looking for a fresh excuse to swear loudly and frequently at their television set should definitely consider picking up a copy of the Eclipse DLC. Four great new maps to feel like an inferior gamer on, while repeatedly getting mown down at the hands of hyperactive kids with cat-like reflexes, not to mention the option of watching co-operative squad mates competently cut a swathe through a sea of the undead while regretting that decision to try and stab the oversized glowing zombie in a rash moment of madness... What's not to like?

Developer

Treyarch

Publisher

Activision

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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