Much like that nice little pay packet that Mr. Sheen injected into our bank accounts a little while back, Infinity Ward’s own stimulus package for Modern Warfare 2 refueled one of the most successful games of all time with a much-needed new map pack, albeit at a horrendous price point of 1200 Microsoft Points. Horrendous because we were charged for something that should have been free, no matter how new or exciting it may be. In saying that, the fact that two of the maps included were from Call of Duty 4 make the price point even more of a insult to gamers. However, after a few weeks out in the wild, the map pack is running pretty well, even amid the continuous matchmaking issues and in-game glitches that have plagued Modern Warfare 2 since launch.
There are five maps included in the Stimulus Package, two of which are “classic” maps from COD4 – Crash and Overgrown. It’s hard to consider these two as “classic”, no matter how much you love them, because they’ve only really been playable for just over two years. In saying that, you can’t help but get that feeling that it’s just a matter of making up the numbers to justify charging for this DLC, and many hardcore COD won’t feel as inclined and excited to play them if they’ve played the crap out of COD4.
Crash and Overgrown are good maps though, and it’s cool to play through them with different weapons and a new population (no one can argue that the MW2 and COD4 crowds are similar, because they aren’t!) The three new maps in Bailout, Storm and Salvage offer something for every type of MW2 gamer, and there’s plenty of variety there to work with. Bailout is set between a complex of apartment buildings, with plenty of pathways and holes in buildings to waltz in and out of. It’s a great map for snipers, but the lack of a distinctive “middle” makes for a not-so-explosive experience. Salvage is set in a snowy junkyard and is the complete opposite to that of Bailout – a single house on the edge of the map that faces the middle of the map can act as a great vantage point, although it’s easily accessible and difficult to cover due to its numerous windows. The narrow pathways in-between the piles of junk can make for some surprising combat, so having a shotgun handy is important for those close encounters. The final new map in Storm is a bit more like Bailout, with plenty of camping and sniping locations located within the many buildings and warehouses. It’s a fairly large map that is best suited to team-based games.
The implementation of the maps is a bit of a let down. If you want to be assured a match on one of the new maps, you have to select Stimulus or Hardcore Stimulus from the menu of multiplayer modes. The game then randomly cycles through the maps, throwing you into random game modes. If you’re hoping to play one particular mode, it all comes down to chance, so you could end up playing one of your least liked modes, just so you can play on the news maps. You’re better off just choosing a game mode and waiting for the new maps to randomly be chosen, and it’s a much better method of playing online.
The matchmaking is still an issue though and is something developer Infinity Ward has to look at immediately. A new patch makes ping the priority, although you can still get booted from a match at random. Furthermore, matches can still be rather laggy, and you can at times be waiting for minutes before finally getting into a match. The matchmaking seems to get worse as the game ages, which is unacceptable.