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On the Edge...of Disappointment
I am a huge fan of Call of Duty's Zombie mode. Whenever a new map is about to be released I am absolutely on the edge of my seat waiting to try it. The Black Ops zombie map released previous to Shangri-La – Call of the Dead was so good that I was a bit apprehensive about Shangri-La, it seemed like a huge challenge for it to outshine Call of the Dead, and, unfortunately, I think I may have been right.
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No Where is Safe
The actual reasons that I did not instantly fall for Shangri-La is mostly to do with the map details – it seems a bit overworked to me, like there were too many ideas and they just decided to put them all in anyway. I also feel that the dynamic of the map was designed to keep the players constantly moving around the map, the developers really don't seem keen on the idea of anyone camping in a zombie map anymore. For instance, in the underground section of Shangri La there are so many spawn points for zombies and so many entrances for over ground zombies to get through that you simply can not hole up down there, not to mention if a napalm zombie is even in the same room as your team you'll be burning up – literally. I'm not saying that I particularly advocate camping either but, in my opinion, some of the best zombie tactics require the team to hold out in an area for a round or two.
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When I saw the new traps in Shangri-La I was very excited, until I'd had to use them a few times. I really wish the Punji Stakes didn't hurt players as much as they do, and definitely not enough to down them. If you've been downed in the middle of a set of Punji Stakes you'll know what I mean – if you even think about moving the stakes will pop up again effectively trapping you as long as you are down.
My other trap grievance is the mud area with the wall mechanism. I love the idea of the walls being random and forcing you to follow them, but I really feel that the mud should slow down the zombies as well and not just the players. I think from the designers' point of view they are most likely trying to play on the fear and panic element of the zombies catching up on you, but it is just too much when you already have no idea where the walls are leading you and you are surrounded by zombie spawn points.
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I think Special Zombies are going to become a regular feature of the Call of Duty zombies mode from now on. The only special zombies I really hated were the Crawler Zombies (Gas Zombies) in the Kino Der Toten map, for some reason they really rubbed me up the wrong way. I think it was because there were too many of them per round.
The two special zombies in Shangri-La have been pretty well thought out, and their designs compliment each other with the Napalm Zombie being very slow and the Shrieker Zombies very fast. My main criticism is with the Napalm zombie. I like the idea but I think they should really be confined to a round of their own because, to me, it seems like a heck of a lot to deal with a Napalm Zombie and a hoard at the same time, especially if you are underground.
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If you regularly play Black Ops zombie maps with friends then I'm sure accessing the Pack-A-Punch machine in Shangri-La is a breeze. If you want to play online with a random lobby it's going to be one heck of a challenge to get up there. In theory, having the team access the Pack-A-Punch machine by standing on blocks simultaneously probably seemed brilliant, as it forced players to communicate with each other. In reality this makes a lot of people I know not want to play online, because it is just far too difficult to get anyone to cooperate with you. I do appreciate the idea, and especially that it encourages players to actually speak to each other, but it just doesn't work for me.
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Shangri-La Eclipse Easter Egg
The Eclipse Easter Egg in Shangri-La is one of the aspects that I looked forward to the most. When I learned about all of the steps that it takes to unlock it I was severely disappointed. I think all of the Easter Eggs in the zombie maps so far have been challenging, some very much so, but this one is on the verge of being ridiculous. Even with a team of players that know each other and have great communication it would be very difficult. I do appreciate a challenge but I don't want to feel lost at the very idea of attempting something either.
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If you've managed to get through all that, then you are probably thinking right now that I hated Shangri-La. In fact, I didn't, it's just not one of my favorite maps. I think it is one of the most challenging because it is so close-quarters and you have to tackle the special zombies head-on and manage a hoard at the same time.
I think the features I enjoyed the most is the Zombie Monkey that steals power-ups. I think it really helps to keep players alert because power-ups were always something to depend on, that you left floating until the last second because it could wait.
In short there are obviously parts of every zombie map that I do and don't enjoy, but unfortunately for Shangri-La the negatives outweighed the positives.
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Screenshots from Call of Duty: Black Ops.