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Call of Duty: Black Ops: Escalation [X360]

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Escalation

It took just four months for Call of Duty: Black Ops to become the top-selling game of all time in the U.S. But instead of  resting on their laurels (the game's still hovering around the middle of the all-formats top-ten), publisher Activision continues to keep Black Ops' stunningly popular multiplayer modes fresh.

This week sees the release of the second downloadable map pack for Black Ops. Dubbed "Escalation," it's available on Xbox Live right now, and will be along on PS3 and PC at a to-be-announced future date.

And in most aspects, Escalation is a case of second verse, same as the first. Call of Duty fans will be thoroughly familiar with its chief drawback: price. Like previous map pack First Strike, it includes four new multiplayer maps, a new zombie level, and will set you back $15. That's $3 a map, and some will find that a little gaudy.

Still, Escalation is packing an extra that might well be worth the price all on its own. It's Call of the Dead, a co-operative zombie-mode map with a cast that's quite literally to die for: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Danny Trejo, George Romero, Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund, and Michael Rooker from The Walking Dead. And they're all fighting a ship full of slavering zombies. And you can play one of them.

It's difficult to imagine how it could get much better, but somehow we doubt that Escalation is Activision's last downloadable content release for Black Ops. Question is, can they top this?

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Motorstorm Apocalypse [PS3]

Most gamers were expecting to have been playing offroad racer Motorstorm: Apocalypse by now. Its U.S. release was delayed in the wake of the Japanese earthquake, but now Sony's up to speed, back on track, and an assortment of other racing metaphors. It's zooming into stores this week, bringing with it a decidedly mixed set of review scores, everything from outstanding to mediocre. Currently it's averaging a 78%, which is well into "give it a try if you like that sort of thing" territory. So do.

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Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds [Y!]

Scientists fear developments in molecular nanotechnology
could one day lead to the creation of a "grey goo" of self-replicating machines
that'd consume the entire planet. No, really, they do. You can replicate the
thrills of this situation yourself simply by playing Tasty Planet...or waiting
a few years until the scientists get it done. Whichever you prefer.

More Info: (Try It)

Thor: God of Thunder [Wii, DS, X360, PS3]

Ah, the movie-licensed video game. The staggering
renaissance of the comic-book superhero flick has given new life to this
much-maligned genre, but, outside of a few standout hits, hasn't done much to
improve its reputation. Can Thor break the quick-and-dirty cash-in stereotype
that plagues such spin-offs? Game critics have yet to reach a consensus; we'd
suggest letting them take a swing at the game before you do.

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Ancient Secrets: Mystery of the Vanishing Bride [Y!]

Dr. Kate Miller's former squeeze has gone missing, and his
last known location was somewhere in the beautiful, tropical Kuhna Islands.
Who'd have thought it -- amid all that idyllic beauty lurks all kinds of occult
evil, danger, and probably bugs the size of housecats and malaria and stuff,
too. Dare you step into Miller's size-nine desert boots and track down her former

More Info: (Try It)

Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury [X360]

Terrible name, great game. Based on a classic N64 and Dreamcast shooter, Bangai-O's unique brand of bullet-spewing mayhem hits Xbox Live Arcade this week. How much mayhem? Five thousand bullets on screen at once, that's how much mayhem -- and that ought to be enough for anyone.

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