I hope you’ve got ten dollars.
If you’ve played COD4 (and if not for the love of God go buy it) then you fall into one of two categories: 1) You’re playing it habitually, working your way up the addictive prestige ladder 2) You’ve played it to death, find the maps stale, and are eagerly anticipating new content.
Which makes my critique of the new Variety Map Pack unnecessary. You know you want it, you probably have it, and are having a blast with it.
Ten bucks will net you four new maps, currently playable via the three newly added Variety Pack playlists, set to enter regular rotation next week. As incentive to play these new maps Infinity Ward has introduced the 360’s first double XP weekend, so if you’re new to COD4 you’ll blaze through ranks and unlock weapons and perks with ease.
Broadcast: If you’ve played the single player campaign (Charlie Don’t Surf) then this map should be instantly recognizable. As the name implies the combat zone is a TV broadcast station, featuring mostly close-to-mid-range indoor battles. Close quarter spray-and-pray battles occur in the winding stairwells and offices, while ranged combat takes place in the open foyer and parking lot. As opposed to Vacant this map is multi-tiered, adding an interesting dynamic to objective based games. For example: when playing Domination, control point B is located at ground floor, while two balconies overlook the capture point – both usually occupied by opposite teams, creating a very frantic “tug of war” scenario. This map offers good variety, and while decent fun in Deathmatch, really feels tailored towards Headquarters or Domination.
Chinatown: Probably my favorite of the new maps, it’s a remake Carentan. Admittedly, I didn’t instantly recognize it, despite having played countless hours of COD2. The fact that the map is darker and at night, while the original was brightly lit, seems to have shortened the field of view, eliminating a lot of sniping that plagued the original. Of course, the fact that you’re no longer walking around (you can run now) with outdated WW2 weapons, and can shoot through walls, completely modify the original’s game play.
Chinatown, with its neon signs and walls littered with Hong Kong action movie posters, is stylistically very different from every other COD4 map. If a complaint were to be made about COD4, it’s that every map has a very war torn Middle Eastern brown/dark green look. Chinatown is a very welcome change. Don’t get me wrong, Chinatown is still dark and decrepit, but the minor color pallet tweaks go a long way in differentiating it. IW gets bonus points for not reusing locals from the single player campaign – although you could argue that they’re reusing a map from COD2.
Creek: This “U” shaped medium/large map takes full advantage of a sniper’s abilities to blend in with foliage. Creek offers players a rocky tiered ridge overlooking an empty basin. The empty space is large enough where a sniper’s scope can easily cover the entire map, but not so large as to render the red dot or acog scope useless. There isn’t much cover to duck behind (a couple tree trunks and boulders are strewn about) but there is more than enough concealment, via bushes, tall grass, and trees, to successfully flank an entrenched sniper.
When playing objective based games, teamwork and communication are vital, especially in bomb planting/defusing game types. If you enjoy playing as a lone solider, Ramboing in to plant the bomb and then heroically defending it, you’ll find your attempts futile. I played a couple matches were everyone was too shy to talk, leading to 20 wasted minutes as both teams repeatedly sent one lone solider to their death. This map is too open and exposed for one-man teams.
Killhouse: An expanded and modified version of the campaign’s training course, Killhouse is currently a Free For All mode exclusive map. This close quarters map has little dead space, and instead focuses on keeping the action intense. Virtually the entire map is composed of wood planks, offering no cover against heavy weapon fire. The facility is open aired, giving air strikes and helicopters free reign to destroy and demoralize.
Unfortunately this map is currently only available in Free For All play, a mode I rarely touch. I understand that 12 players in such a tight confined space would be utter mayhem, but Killhouse is larger and offers more concealment than Shipment (a map I abhor), and would be welcome in regular ranked team-based matches. Hopefully this map will be patched into regular rotation. Still, if all you play are FFA matches you’ll find this map a great addition.
While $2.50 a map might seem pricey (considering that COD4 shipped with 16), the competition is charging more. Halo 3 charges ten for three maps, Warhawk eight for one map and content, Turok should pay you to play it, so the price point falls in line with current standards. If you plan on playing more COD4 online there is no reason not to get the maps. Highly recommended.
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