Modern Warfare 2: Resurgence Pack
We've not had to wait long for the Resurgence Pack, have we? It's barely been two months since the Stimulus Package first spread like wildfire across Xbox Live, and here we are with another batch of 5 maps for the same hefty price of 1200 points. Oh Infinity Ward, you do spoil/exploit us and so on.
Map packs. We've been here before, we'll be here again. Do they add anything to the game? Will they divide the player base? How on Earth am I supposed to find the time to work out new hiding spots? I'm a busy man you know. Oh, and price. I ended my review of the Stimulus Package with some thoughts on the pricing, but the initial community reception to the announcement of the Resurgence Pack shows there's still plenty of venom regarding the cost.
It's probably worth expressing some personal thoughts on the matter, so there's no doubt in anyone's mind as to which side of the fence I'm on. My Modern Warfare 2 clock stands at a little under four days, so dropping down about three pints worth of money on five new maps isn't too much of a big deal for me. I'll get my money's worth.
Will you? If you're a casual MW2 player, you might want to think twice about it. 1200 points is a lot of money for three new maps and two updates. There, I've said it. The naysayers have a point. The sixteen maps which shipped with the game still have plenty of life in them, and the fact Modern Warfare 2 has been the most played game on Xbox Live since its launch means it's safe to assume there are some vanilla games going on at any given moment.
But honestly, are there even any casual players left anymore? It's been the best part of seven months since the game was released, and it's rare to see anyone playing who hasn't prestiged at least once. Anyone who just fancied dipping into the shallow end of online has probably moved on already, leaving this premium map pack's target audience people with copies of MW2 glued to their 360's disc tray. Of which there are plenty.
Contention over value aside, the mix of three new maps with two golden oldies is once again a nice touch, giving Call of Duty veterans a chance to segue into new rotations with a couple of familiar layouts before learning all the new corridors, open spaces and excellent camping spots. Dish out too many new maps at once and people can't cope: look back at Unreal Tournament, for instance, and remember how the most popular servers, regardless of iteration, would be the ones running Facing Worlds and Deck 16.
I'll cover the golden oldies first, then. Strike is a large affair set in a Middle-Eastern town. It's peppered with long streets and buildings you can hide in - prompting mad building-to-building dashes and tense runs for cover. It's a solid level, prompting a similar feel to Invasion and Karachi, though because of its similarities it doesn't really tickle my fancy like some of the other maps. Function over form, if you will.
It's particularly suited for Domination, however, with some well placed capture points and enough space for a group of players to effectively lock down an area. It will make a nice addition to the Ground War playlist.
Vacant, on the other hand, is small and hectic, with tight intersected corridors to give you a great reason to play around with shotgun and SMG classes. Everyone dies a lot. It's been kicking around since the Call of Duty 4 beta, so expect to have your brains repeatedly pasted across the walls if you've never experienced it before. You can still throw a grenade through the roof if your team spawn inside the building, though grenades will get chucked absolutely everywhere, and the age-old battle between bright outdoor snipers and everyone else indoors, shrouded in darkness, continues to rage on.
It's one of my favourites - it always has been - and I can't complain about its inclusion. It's even more hectic in Modern Warfare 2, with a bountiful stream of knife runners, akimbo shotguns and tubers. It makes you realise this is about as fast an online shooter can get without rocket launchers and railguns.
Moving onto the new content, I'll start with the highlight: Carnival. It's easily the most creative Call of Duty map to date, and while it would have been nice to hear a few custom sound effects built into the level - some fairground noises would have been ace - it adds a lot of (somewhat needed) visual variety to the usual map rotation. While there was admittedly a merry-go-round in Call of Duty 4, it's been my lifelong dream to tube people hiding inside a giant clown head.
As for how it plays, it's a large and sprawling playground (it even has its own funhouse, albeit without Pat Sharp) perfect for long-range play. Its bright and diverse colours mean it's actually quite hard to spot players far away, too, so snipers will have a field day. Anyone looking to keep it up close and personal can snake around the attractions, where there's enough mannequins scattered about to keep you second-guessing yourself.
Carnival is not only the highlight of the entire pack, it's one of the most ambitious (and successful) multiplayer maps I've played in the last few years. There are enough detailed nooks and crannies to make it seem like Infinity Ward have been working on it for absolutely ages, so it's glad to see they managed to get it out before the only remaining staff members left at the studio offices were Robert Bowling and the HR lady.
While Carnival might be the definite creative accomplishment, Fuel manages to give it a run for its money in terms of plain fun. It's like Vacant blown up to three times the size, and you spend most of your time manoeuvring through warehouses to avoid inevitable sniper fire. It's perfectly suited for every mode except Team Deathmatch, and despite its colossal size (it feels like one of the biggest Call of Duty maps to date) it always seems to funnel you right into the action.
Trailer Park, with no real sniper spots and a sole focus on close-up combat, seems to be the least popular of the additions. It's a twisting maze of dumpsters, shabby trailers and the skeleton of an aeroplane. I'm still not entirely confident with navigating it: it's not an easy map, and it goes against the grain of MW2's typical play style. That doesn't mean it's bad, of course, it just requires you to adjust.
Saying that, you could also say the exact same thing about Estate and I've always made a point of saying how thoroughly horrible a map that is. Let's just say Trailer Park will divide opinion.
All in all it's a great bunch - a noticeably better selection than the Stimulus Pack, and for the same exorbitant price to boot! If this heralds your return to Modern Warfare 2 then you can expect to be continually mobbed for a good few days, and the amount of maps (up to 26 if you've kept your DLC up to date) has become a little staggering.
I'd say to stay away if the mere thought of an undermounted grenade launcher is now enough to have you break out in a rage-induced sweat, but that should really be a given. For the fans, especially the ones who've strayed away in the last couple of months, Infinity Ward's latest collection is more than enough for them to welcome the game back with open arms. Tango sucker!