Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Content Pack 1 review
With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Activision launched its Elite subscription service. For those who are happy to play an upfront fee, the latest downloadable content is drip fed out one map at a time. For those who didn't feel dedicated enough at the outset to sign up, but now a few months later still find themselves playing MW3, this Content Pack 1 rounds all the maps to date into a single downloadable bundle.
The bundle consists of four new multiplayer maps and two single player or co-operative Special Ops missions. At present it's only available on Xbox 360, though we suspect that PC and PlayStation 3 versions will be out very shortly. It costs 1200 points on Xbox Live (and so should be around £11 on PC and PS3), the same as the MW2 map packs. Those packs contained three new maps and one MW1 map per pack, so the new pack looks to be a better deal, with more new content and the addition of Special Ops missions.
The first map we played was Piazza. It's a Mediterranean-style town, consisting of a series of small buildings cascading down a steep hillside. It feels like the smallest of the three maps here, but that's not saying much, as in terms of square metres the four provide plenty of acreage. Piazza is initially a little bewildering with a tight multi-level mix of small courtyards and winding roads, overlooked by walkways. There are few windows, so sniping opportunities are limited and the map instead offers plenty of movement, with lots of separated paths. It looks to be a good design, a bit light on theme though and offering little new or unusual.
Next up was Liberation, which takes you into a war-torn Central Park. This largish map is fairly flat, though the parks bridges and landscaping provide lots of breaks in line of sight. The lack of buildings here makes it impossible to get up above and reign supreme with a sniper rifle, though sight-lines in places certainly favour such weapons. We also found an accurate, silenced assault rifle to be handy, as your opponents can quickly close down anyone who makes a noise. We're still waiting for a map like MW2's wasteland, but this a good addition that plays differently from most.
Black box, sticking in the US this map has the best theme of the lot. Air Force One has crash landed in the middle of a half-built residential district and broken up on impact. Half the map is dominated by sections of the two-storey air craft, which provide close-quarters combat, while the other half consists of very open-plan buildings with lots of end-to-end sniping opportunities. A good mix of terrain, and a hard map to get your head around, as different areas need different approaches.
Finally we have Overwatch, this is thematically the same as MW2 favourite High-Rise, but less open and more complex. This skyscraper isn't finished yet, so semi-completed indoor sections are clear rather than cluttered with office furniture, and a lot more of it is open to the sky. It's a more multi-levelled map and we had some brilliant games of Domination here.
It's a shame that the new co-op maps feel a bit of an add-on to the multiplayer offering. Four new maps (at a greater price) could have formed an extra difficulty level tier above the current Special Ops missions. Black Ice starts with an extended ski-mobile fight, which is no better than any other MW vehicle section, before a pretty-typical firefight in a cave system. Negotiator is an against the clock hostage rescue mission. It boils down to a series of slow-motion breach-and-clear challenges chained together with more normal gunfights.
We'd much rather have seen a couple more multiplayer maps than these respectable missions. Remember that all four new multiplayer maps are available in Survival mode, and we got more fun out of trying to find new hideaways in that mode than by playing the scripted missions.
All-in-all it's hard to criticise Content Pack 1 too heavily. There are no old rereleased maps here, and no duds either. You could argue that none of the designs here take any risks, but they all have their own character both in terms of theme and gameplay and regular players will appreciate the extra arenas to fight in. The Special Ops missions are a nice bonus, but we'd have preferred one or two classic maps in their place.
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