Interesting new places to meet (and kill) people
Activision have launched a bundle of maps for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which they're collectively calling Content Collection #1. If you're keen for a quick overview of what's included, check out our news piece from last month when the pack first went on sale.
If you're new to the premise, it's part of Activision's new DLC plan that gives dibs on the new stuff to Xbox 360 owners with paid subscriptions to their Elite service. Eventually, content filters down to the rest of us, and Activision have elected to do this by way of large-scale bundles of content that was previously drip-fed to Elite owners (hence "collection").
What this means is that Content Collection #1, priced at 1200 points ($24), is the biggest piece of DLC ever released for a Call of Duty game. Given that it costs the same as regular DLC map packs for the franchise, that must make it the best deal ever, right? Yes*.
* But only if you're really into your Call of Duty online multiplayer. If you're one of the (millions) who play this game online for hours and hours every single week, $24 to extend the experience into six new maps isn't a huge price to pay. But if you're the casual type, and are likely to play only a few hours (total), there's nothing groundbreaking in this bundle that's worth dropping extra folding stuff on.
As to the maps themselves? It's hard to separate them. That's not to say they don't offer their own experiences, because they sure do. In fact, that's part of the challenge when it comes time to compare them. Each is extremely different, and yet each is refreshingly new and highly polished.
Take Blackbox, for example. Air Force One, which is crashed in the central hub of the map, is more than an interesting backdrop. Instead, you can use it (and its broken-down innards) as a way to traverse an area of the environment that would otherwise be no-man's land. Why? The apartments that ring the area are prime locations for enemy snipers to hunker down and pick you off.
The map enables both sniper play (a relative rarity in the regular maps) and counter-sniper / suppression mechanics - assuming the people you're playing with oblige, of course. It's great fun, with hotspots springing up all over the place. There's loads of open ground to trap new players in, and the map allows for skilled players to work together as a team, without preventing fun dynamics from opening up in less organized online skirmishes with random participants.
Another good example is the Overwatch map - albeit for different reasons. Set in a building that's under construction, you really need to watch your step; you can literally fall to your death, in a risk / reward design that presents some extremely appealing shortcuts and sniping spots to those who are prepared to put it all on the line.
The relatively random nature of the construction also plays with the mind somewhat, with enemies seemingly springing out of nowhere thanks to your brain's willingness to believe that you're in a regular building (like so many you've seen before). The quirky nature of the environment gets you in the door, but you'll stay for the intense focus you'll need to stay alive. It's addictive, intense, and the occasional "assisted suicide" kills you get will keep you entertained long into the night.
Then there's the two new spec-ops missions which, well, we don't want to ruin them for you. Let's just say they are quite the experience, and at least one of them is something you've never done before. They both hint at the range the co-op mode is capable of, and we can't wait to see what comes next.
Without doubt, the Call of Duty teams are well into their stride. They know how to add to their games in a meaningful way, keeping their players playing. If you're one of the many out there who eat this stuff up and can't get enough of it, Content Collection #1 is absolutely worthy of your time and money.