|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Treyarch||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 19, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-18||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
March 19, 2009 - The appeal of the Call of Duty (COD) franchise when it comes to online multiplayer is hard to deny. The first years of Xbox Live on the Xbox 360 were filled with countless matches of COD 2 for many early adopters of the system. Even today, COD 4: Modern Warfare continues to give good old Master Chief a run for his money as the most played online game on Microsoft's console.
Thankfully, the latest entrant into the COD series, Call of Duty: World at War (COD: WAW) is poised to expand upon the initial multiplayer offerings it delivered on the original game disc with its first map pack being made available March 19th for the PS3 and Xbox 360 for $9.99 and 800 MS points, respectively. The COD: WAW Map Pack 1 will also eventually make its way onto the PC, but specific pricing, details, and dates have yet to be announced.
At a recent event held by Activision, we were lucky enough to get some hands-on time with the console versions of COD: WAW's first map pack expansion. Map Pack 1 consists of four total multiplayer maps, three made specifically for standard competitive online multiplayer and the other for dispatching with the undead in the Nazi Zombie Bonus Mode - more on that one later. We were first able to put each of the three standard multiplayer maps to the test in deathmatch and team deathmatch varieties. Each of these maps was surprisingly large, allowing for some very good large matches to take place. While similar in size, all three of these maps still manage to have a different look, feel, and strategy than the others.
The first map we checked out was Knee Deep. This one takes place on the island of Peleliu in a fairly small village that has recently been under duress. Walking through the village's dirt streets, you'll see the effects of previous battles, some of which provide unique opportunities, such as a hut with a huge hole burnt into its roof that offers an excellent vantage point for sniping. Besides being filled with several partially destroyed shanties, Knee Deep is also host to overgrown jungle foliage and a ton of water. The flooded rice fields and winding rivers that make up this map actually have a large impact on the matches themselves. Walking through this water will not only slow you down by hindering your movement; it also tends to make a detectable commotion that is sure to alert any nearby enemies to your presence.
Next, it was on to the Station map, which, like its name indicates, takes place in a train station. However, it's not just any train station but a bombed out, collapsing, and somewhat claustrophobic subway. Aside from the constant presence of burning rubble and tiles missing from the walls, you'll also see a large chunk of street that has fallen into the middle of the map from the city above. Luckily, this slab of pavement works to obscure the view of the long central corridor of the map that would otherwise allow for full map sniping. Instead, snipers can still find success on their respective halves of the map but will also be quite vulnerable to flanking maneuvers. Besides the lengthy central track area, there are several hallways, hidden pathways, and train cars that can be used to sneak about and take an unsuspecting enemy by surprise.
The last of the competitive multiplayer maps was Nightfire, but it certainly wasn't the least. Taking place in the middle of the night in the heavily fire-bombed streets of Berlin, Nightfire can definitely present a challenge for the player by itself. This is thanks in no small part to the overall darkness of the map and the fact that the only sources of lighting are coming from nearby smoldering buildings and a few street lamps. As an urban map, Nightfire provides players with a good amount of buildings to duck in and out of, travel through, and even to set up a sniping position. With many buildings having second and third floors to climb, chunks of walls missing to stick your gun through, and plenty of ladders/exposed pipes allowing for quick escapes, this map is truly a sniper's paradise. Of course, making your way through the streets safely will still be possible, although it will require you to make use of all of the random debris, vehicles, and other objects littering the streets for cover.