Sunday 16 May 2010

MW2 Stimulus Map Pack - Review

Eleven quid.  Five new maps for online.  Is it worth the money?

Yes and no.  Two of the new maps are superb.  Two of the maps are reprised from COD4 and one of the new maps is a bit... dull.  So it's eleven quid for two great new environments, two we've, for the most part already owned and one that we could have done without.

The thing with COD though is that you don't want to miss out and with more map pack coming soon, also including two old maps and three new ones, the temptation is going to be to buy the lot.  Don't get me wrong, it's great we're getting new maps but this is seriously adding to the cost of an already expensive game.

So what are the new maps like?

Bailout is pretty.  Set in an American apartment block with plenty of high positions and little or no areas for hiding out this is an exciting and well thought out map.  It's also the largest of the three new areas.  It's always weird playing a new map for the first time and this will take a while to get completely comfortable with.  The lighting is bright and the map is colourful, graphically it's easily on a par with the best of the maps from the disc.  Bailout is gonna suit sniping with it's high positions but the long corridor effect, between the two apartment blocks, gives plenty of scope for moving between the two main buildings and there's cover, everywhere.  Think prettier Bloc.

Storm is set in a warehouse complex complete with slightly freaky mannequins and rain.  Lots of rain.  Spend sometime checking out the lightning effects, they're superb and the rain, just as it did on Downpour from COD4, helps those of us without silent footsteps to be a little less conspicuous.  It's basically a big rectangle with a large central warehouse and a few smaller buildings outside.  I've always been a fan of maps like this.  Plenty of cover but multiple entrances to buildings and the weather effects definitely lend to the appeal.

Salvage is the one disappointment.  Tight, compact and snow filled it just doesn't quite have the same impact as it's two new brethren.  The dog kennel though is aces.  Set in a car wrecking yard there are a few buildings and open areas, but it just feels a bit dull.  It's going to suit free for all battles mostly and not larger battles.

The two older maps are Overgrown and Crash.  It's amazing how instantly familiar they feel.  Crash was the map that defined COD4 for many.  Brilliant design with a huge variety of different areas.  High points for sniping, tight areas for close quarters encounters with a knife and of course that downed helicopter in the centre of the map, that led to so many kills in Domination in the previous game.  Overgrown is still as you remember it.  A snipers paradise, long grass and a delightful feel of war to it.  Seriously, it's a map that actually feels like something out of WWII, although now of course we've got multiple kill streak rewards raining down on it.  Great stuff.

The old maps have been buffed up a bit for MW2, colours seem brighter and more vibrant although the contrast seems off, particularly on Overgrown, those nooks and crannies that you hid out in on COD4 are not as pitch black as they once were.  But generally they look better than they ever did with some nice detail added to the shops in Crash.

Is it worth eleven quid then?  Yes it is.  Just.  It would have been nice to see the old and new separated out from each other with the older maps being offered as free content and the new maps being charged for at a more reasonable price but as it is this is a welcome addition to the MW2 experience.  Roll on Strike and Vacant.


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