Last week we were at a secret location to check out the brand new downloadable map pack for Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare. As you can guess we were licking our lips in anticipation, so, were they any good? You bet they were.
Making our way into the event we were met with something resembling a cross between an army barracks and a battlefield to make us feel right at home.
There were burnt out cars, sounds of gunfire filling the air, oil drums cast aside and even army rations to help ourselves to. But we passed on the powdered chocolate pudding, and after a brief presentation from developer Jason West, we got down to action.
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This was the first map we tried and perhaps the one whose setting is most familiar to those who’ve played the single-player campaign.
“Broadcast” takes place in the same area which had players trying to infiltrate a television station in “Charlie Don’t Surf”.
We always thought the control room area of this level would make a great battle zone for multiplayer, and it does. Watching computer monitors fly amid the chaos of a free-for-all deathmatch is a joy.
As most of the action takes place indoors it’s perhaps not the best setting for snipers, though there are some useful vantage points such as the floor overlooking the control room and the balcony outside before you get into the television studio.
Totally new and by far the largest of the maps in this pack, Creek is a haven for snipers. Set in a dense forest sparsely populated by small cottage-style houses, a waterfall and caves, this map has everything.
It can be played in many ways. While the forest is the perfect place for long range stakeouts, the caves offer a focal point for more extreme shooty action.
Playing the maps online with fellow journalists we saw some hiding in the bushes in their ghillie suits, some running into the open wondering where everyone had got to and others taking the more direct approach.
But we couldn’t talk about this map without mentioning how beautiful it is.
From the way the sunlight hits the sniping cliffs through to the way shadows are cast onto players battling under the dense foliage; warfare has never been so aesthetically pleasing.
We scratched our heads trying to figure out what we’d missed from the single player campaign when we saw one of the maps listed as “Chinatown”.
Thankfully, we hadn’t, because this map is a completely new design different from any of the settings we’d seen before in COD4.
The setting here is a derelict district full of vacant buildings and is set at night. It’s centered on a courtyard-like focal point, with small streets branching of it and small buildings and shops overlooking the action.
Like the “Broadcast” map it’s not really one for snipers as things get pretty cramped when full of players, as we found out. The best tactic here is to cruise from building to building, taking cover before machine gunning the enemy.
It’s a decent environment for deathmatch, but we can imagine a cool capture the flag scenario where players try to infiltrate the buildings before carrying it out onto the streets and fighting to hold onto it.
The last map we got our hands on takes inspiration from the initial training level in the single-player campaign and is the smallest of the new maps.
Landscape-wise, there’s not much going on besides a few crates and mock-up rooms made of plywood to make up what looks like an indoor training facility.
It’s the sort of map where sneaking around is the order of the day. There are a couple of possible sniping points, but they would be useless with up to eight players involved.
Does size matter? No, not really. Where Killhouse lacks in size it more than makes up for it in providing a great arena for smaller deathmatch battles, although larger skirmishes would prove incredibly frustrating.
We tried it in two-player split screen mode and by our reckoning that’s where this map is at its best.
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Sounds good, when can I play them?
The downloadable map pack for the Xbox 360 will be available on Xbox Live tomorrow for 800 Microsoft points, with the PS3 version appearing on the PSN Store later in the month. Oh, we can’t wait.