Activision fires another round in the modern DLC war
Call of Duty leads the pack when it comes to aggressive DLC positioning, with Modern Warfare 3 at the very forefront of techniques for providing additional content after the initial game is purchased. Content Collection 2, which is what we're looking at today, is a bundle of maps that were made available first to subscribers of the Call of Duty Elite service on Xbox 360, and have now filtered down to be available to anyone with 1200 points ($24) to spend.
Inside the virtual box, purchased only via Xbox Live, you'll find three new Multiplayer / Survival maps, two new Special Ops missions, and two new Face Off maps. Face Off, if you're not familiar with it, is a brand new Call of Duty mode in which a small number of players go head-to-head in tiny, concentrated maps that force players into tight hot spots.
Starting with Face Off, which people who don't own the collection can still play on two free maps, this really is a great solution for people who are looking for a more intense match when there are fewer players around. Either 1v1 or 2v2, you can play this mode in either deatchmatch or (my favorite) kill confirmed but either way, you're going to be making a bigger contribution than normal to your team's success or failure.
The included Face Off maps work well, but I'd love to have seen support for 3v3; after spending a lot of time playing tightly confined head-to-head maps in Quake 2, these feel positively wide open in comparison, and it would be nice to be able to increase the player count to dial up the action even further.
The Spec Ops missions, like the rest of this bundle, prove that the content creation machine behind Call of Duty is a well-oiled one; they're excellent. Whether providing overwatch as a sniper in Kill Switch or rumbling through the streets of Hamburg in a tank in the Iron Clad mission, the experiences are unique and entertaining. You can play either in singleplayer, of course, but the real fun comes from playing with a friend in co-op (bags playing as the tank!).
Of the three new general maps, Oasis - set in and around the hotel from the final mission of the main game - was my favorite. It's a beautiful map, as you might expect from a hotel in the UAE, and the combination of corridors, high viewpoints, and open spaces leads to a very dynamic playfield in which both tactics and the upper hand are constantly changing.
Factory and Sanctuary are also both excellent, even if they - particularly Foundation - are somewhat familiar in setting. None of the maps feels rushed and each leads to a combination of tight situations and blissful discovery as you learn to deploy your well-honed skills in a new setting.
Initially skeptical of Activision's DLC plans, I'm now a complete convert. Yes, it's a great method for the company to make money from a months-old game, but it's also a magnificent way to ensure the game still feels fresh and still offers new experiences; even for those who have been playing it uninterrupted since release. And at 1200 points, it offers amazing value for money to gamers that are still playing online. In fact, if you count yourself among them, there's no reason not to buy this new content collection.