After many long and cold months it’s finally time for Modern Warfare 2 to release its first map pack. Ironically titled “Stimulus Package” the pack will consist of five maps in total (more on the irony later).
Three of the five maps will be completely brand new maps while two will be returning favorites from the first Modern Warfare multiplayer. Bailout, Storm, and Salvage are the new maps each bringing a unique gameplay dynamic with them. Bailout is an apartment complex with long sight lines and one can imagine some frantic close quarters action in the apartments themselves. Salvage sports a snowy environment amidst a junkyard, this map is meant for frantic non stop action, and according to Infinity Ward’s Robert Bowling this map is the answer to the community’s outcry about the habit of players to “camp” in one place. The map is meant to have little cover and is small enough it is expected that the close quarters of this map and sparse cover will force players to be on the move constantly. The final new map, Storm is an industrial park littered with heavy machinery while a rainstorm rages over head.
The two returning favorites making their way back onto consoles on March 30th are Crash and Overgrown, arguably two of the most popular multiplayer maps from the franchise’s first entry. Crash is a war-torn urban landscape featuring many tight corners and blind spots, with the notable set piece of a downed transport helicopter in the center of the map. Overgrown takes us back to the desolate Russian landscape with an abandoned farmhouse and barn on one side of a wide gully with a series of larger homes on the other side creating two very distinct combat landscapes. The major attraction of overgrown definitely rests with snipers, the state of decay and growth of the vegetation makes the map a “sniper’s paradise”.
Upon the release of the map pack, IW plans to also hold a double XP weekend as well as unlocking online play for Xbox Live silver members. The pack will cost 1200 microsoft points ($15) and this is where the previously mentioned irony comes into play. Typically most map packs cost around 800 microsoft points ($10) and the higher price tag on the map pack has many gamers enraged, some even going so far as to setup boycott sites and the like. While some argue that they’re actually only getting three new maps and should not have to pay for maps they paid for already in Modern Warfare’s multiplayer. There have been several gamers who even consider the title of the map pack to be an affront, seeming to openly mock the players for buying this map pack.
From a personal standpoint, I plan to buy the map pack the day its released and I welcome the return of old favorites from the first game. All five are new maps to MW2 and the rehashed maps from the previous release have all been balanced and tweaked to integrate into the MW2 multiplayer dynamic (perks, killstreaks, etc). Even at the higher price point, the map pack still offers far more entertainment for its cost than you could find elsewhere. I suspect that the extra gooey rage coming from this news has been spurned on by Activision’s drama earlier with two executives from Infinity Ward and the overall assumption that MW2 has been flawed to unplayability by glitches, hacks, and the players who exploit them on consoles and the PC. Tack onto that the apparent “rivalry” Bad Company 2 creator DICE is throwing into the mix, and you have a chum filled bloody mess of water to whip the sharks into quite a frenzy.
The “Stimulus Package” will be available for download first on Xbox Live and a double XP weekend to begin on the same day, and sometime later will be released for the PS3 and PC.