Last week, the much anticipated Stimulus Package of five downloadable maps for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released to the XBox 360. For a company with tons of experience in the downloadable content market, it ended up being a very shaky launch. Because of technical issues, these five maps were basically unplayable with a variety of glitches. As a result, Microsoft announced today over their XBox Twitter account that anyone who purchased the Stimulus Package on its launch day, last Wednesday, would receive a free seven day extension to their XBox Live Gold subscription.
As we previously reported, the Stimulus Package which sold for 1200 Microsoft Points (or $15.00) contains five maps. Two of these maps, “Crash” and “Overgrown” are returning fan favorites from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Three additional maps, “Salvage”, “Bailout” and “Storm” are new additions to the series. Currently, these five maps are only available on two select playlists from the game’s multiplayer menu, “Stimulus” and “Hardcore Stimulus”. With playmodes like Team Deathmatch, Domination, Capture the Flag, Headquarters Pro and Demolition, players get a real taste of what these levels bring to the COD: MW2 table.
“Crash”, one of the original Modern Warfare maps brought back continues to prove its value for objective based games. With well balanced teams, it provides a great locale for Demolition. Set in the middle of a Middle Eastern town, the central area surrounding the crashed helicopter quickly becomes a killing field from snipers on the nearby rooftop as well as all the alleys where players can hide in. It is however a small map in comparison and feels crowded when full 12 man games are going on. Still, a great choice to return to the series.
“Overgrown” brings one feature to it that can quickly become someone’s favorite or most reviled feature. The second floor mounted gun turret. With a bird’s eye view of one of the objective points for Domination, this turret is bound to be the bane of some players’ existences. With an abandoned Eastern European town as its setting, players will quickly traverse to rooftops for premium sniping positions for the map ideally made for Capture the Flag and Domination. Its large size allows time for players to actually strategize instead of just being forced to duck for cover the second they spawn.
Of the three new maps, “Bailout” feels the most unique and refreshing. Perfect for a bombing run, “Bailout” places players in a ransacked suburban area featuring apartments and a broken down swimming pool to compete against each other in. The homes feel lived in and quickly abandoned as if war actually broke out. The streets are still littered with cars. Something beautiful was once in this location before war broke out and now it feels like it is really your job to get it back (or to utterly decimate it depending on which team you get on). The unique art style of this map definitely makes it visually stand out although it is not ideal for games like Capture the Flag due to the fairly thin central territory of it. Anyone making a mad dash through it, as is often the case in Capture the Flag gameplay, quickly begins to resemble Swiss cheese.
Absent from what we saw in the trailer are the weather effects of “Storm”. Instead of falling rain, players are only treated to the aftereffects of said storm. While a visually depressing map taking place in an industrial complex, “Storm” is actually one of the most versatile maps in terms of gameplay options. With a huge open area as well as a central multilevel complex building in the center of the map, basically any gameplay mode can flourish here. Placing bombs, taking territories and stealing flags all are fun on this unique layout. As much as we would have enjoyed the added weather effects of “Storm”, none of us will argue over the gameplay value of such an adaptable map.
Finally, “Salvage” takes place in the middle of a snowstorm in, you guessed it, a salvage yard. With piles of cars, huge sewer tubes and even a dog house, “Salvage” is a great Domination map. With two well entrenched locations, it also becomes a great Capture the Flag map as well. Sometimes, vision can be obscured on the map due to narrow corridors. As a result, attachments like thermal scopes and heartbeat sensors become increasingly valuable on this map. Claymore mines also become quick favorites as many tight spots give ample opportunity for ambushes.
Despite the $15.00 price tag, the Stimulus Package is a must buy for the millions of people playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 online. There isn’t a single dud map of the five and even though two have been resurrected from COD4:MW, these add tons more replay value to the game, especially when they can be integrated in to the full map rotation for all players.
Make sure to keep an eye out for your favorite Flickcasters on XBox Live and stay tuned for a free download code giveaway for the Stimulus Package in the coming days.