Call Of Duty 4 is already better than unicorns, robots and lightsabers combined, but in just under a week it’s aiming to get even better with the release of the first downloadable add-on, the Variety Pack map collection for online multiplayer.
Now downloadable content is always a tricky proposition. Sometimes it opens up a whole new element in a game and keeps the fun flowing long after its original release (Gold star for you, Crackdown), but sometimes… Well, sometimes it’s horse armour.
So where does COD4’s DLC sit on this sliding scale of supplemental expense? Is it going to be worth your while to drop nearly a quarter of the game’s original price on four more maps come April 10th (That date is console-only at the min. The PC release is still up in the air), or is the whole thing just surplus to requirements? Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know. We played through the whole lot at Activision’s Boot Camp event this week, and we’re going to give you the lowdown on exactly what Infinity Ward have cooked up for you.
Things started off rather disappointingly with this one, we’re afraid. Killhouse was actually the new map we were most looking forward to playing based on the promise of its concept, but while it’s definitely a fun addition to the COD4 line-up it just doesn’t deliver what we were hoping for.
The idea of a multiplayer stage based on the initial training zone of campaign mode filled us with ideas of a claustrophobic, multi-layered indoor stage filled with pop-up wooden terrorists and ropes to slide down. In truth though, Killhouse is a warehouse interior scattered with small walls, wooden pallets, shipping containers and a few burnt-out cars for cover. There’s also a sniping tower in the middle and a shack with a roof-mounted gun emplacement at either the end, all of which leave you pretty well exposed. Not initially very inspiring.
Given the small size of the arena and the abundance of easy-to-shoot-through scenery, Killhouse is clearly not a map for large-scale battles. While a 20-man Free-For-All would be a hilariously stupid drunken Friday night fixture that we can very seriously see ourselves trying out at some point, for serious play much reduced numbers are going to be needed on this one. Tellingly, Activision didn’t have it set up on any game modes other than split-screen.
Killhouse will definitely come into its own in Cage Match or a small Free-For-All though. Its relatively straightforward layout and enclosed space make it ideal for stalking a single opponent, and the reduced size compared to other maps will require some very careful and quiet movement and hopefully lead to some really tense one-on-one battles. The wooden walls will probably tempt the spray and pray bullet-spammers to get a little trigger-happy unfortunately, but at the same time clever players will be able to play off that and get the opposition to blow their cover.
So far then, not bad, but not enough to have us excitedly loading up the Microsoft Points yet.