It’s been a while since I cared enough about a game to actually pay for DLC. Even Halo 3 had me waiting for the first map pack to be free, and before that I think the last time was Crackdown’s excellent content pack, released way back in May. I may have drifted from COD4 in recent weeks (my current poor form testifies to this fact, although I still blame the new controller/new maps/Prestige mode/lunar alignment), but that couldn’t stop me dropping 400 points (that’s £3.40 in human money) on these babies.
In fact, the last game that I bought more than one content pack for was Call of Duty 2, which probably says something about how this series grabs me. Until this game came out, COD2 was still by far my most-played 360 multiplayer game.
I came to this download knowing nothing about the maps other than the names, so imagine my surprise when I found out that the pictured map, Chinatown, is a remake of Carentan, my favourite map from both Call of Duty and COD2. I’d been waxing lyrical about how I’d love that map and another classic from the first two games, St Mère Eglise (one for the next content pack, please), and here we are; Infinity Ward heard my pleas.
Chinatown is superlative in deathmatch and Domination – a combination that gave me 29 kills to 5 deaths in one match the other night, which I followed by a new low of 5 deaths and no kills – and although I don’t like the mode, it’s still one of the better Search and Destroy maps. The darkness makes it a bit less likely that you’ll be popping headshots from the far end of the street (the lack of a rifle as supremely accurate as the Kar98k doesn’t help, either), but I suppose that could be down to my now-questionable skills again. No, no, it’s the game. Or lag…
If you’re not aware of how much of the Call of Duty series is ‘inspired by’ HBO’s Band of Brothers, I suggest you learn your way around this map, imagine it with a WWII-era French skin and watch the Carentan scene. Some of the architecture is a direct lift.
Let me get the little-played Killhouse out of the way. It’s essentially the training mission from the campaign, and is ideal for small (2-6 player) deathmatches. I prefer the bigger games, so it’s doubtful that I’ll run across this one much, but people who prefer their death-dealing to be more intimate will have a great time.
Broadcast is also lifted from the single-player, taking place in a tweaked version of the TV station that nearly drew me to self-harm when I was playing it on veteran difficulty. I think it’s a flawed map, biased a bit too much in favour of whichever team happens to spawn inside the building, but it has potential to be a popular choice for team objective games, with one team in the relative comfort of the station itself and the other holding down the battered buildings outside.
Both sides get excellent facing sniping positions, and the no man’s land between them has plenty of cover and ways to approach the enemy positions. A good map, overall, which will be more or less enjoyable depending on how it’s used in playlists. Domination and deathmatch good, fixed-base games bad.
Finally we have Creek, probably the most impressive of the wholly new maps. It’s pretty big, taking in a small settlement, the titular creek, a farm and even a small cave system, with a large hill in the middle typically providing the staging ground for sniping battles between those on it and those hiding out in and around the village. When I play COD4 I’m rarely a sniper and dislike being sniped even more and so I’m not keen on those aspects of Creek, but there are plenty of opportunities for those with a more direct approach to play their game.
The caves are a common choke point, as they provide a quick method to flank the team on the hill and also the most direct way into the village without leaving yourself exposed. Going around the hill leaves you exposed to snipers in town and, going the other way, vulnerable to bombardment from above. Still, there’s plenty of cover to dash between on the way to flush out the dirty campers in the bombed-out buildings.
This map pack offers four excellent maps, with two, maybe three of them among my favourites in the whole game. And at 400 points for four maps – not 800 for three, Microsoft – I can’t have any complaints about the value. Well worth the money.