The overpriced map pack for Modern Warfare 2 finally made its way to the PC version of the game yesterday, accompanied by a double experience period that lasts until the 9th of May. This resulted in a surge of returning Modern Warfare 2 players, with or without map pack, that completely overwhelmed the Steam servers.
Despite concurrent user ratings being well within normal bounds according to the Steam website, it was impossible to even login to Steam in most of Europe for several hours last night. Gamers that did manage to login were faced with endless “servers are too busy” errors when trying to install or play their Steam games. Not to mention the Modern Warfare 2 specific problems, with the game flat-out refusing to start in European regions for 6 hours straight.
The situation was only resolved when Europeans started going to bed around 23:00 CET, with Valve not once commenting on the situation. In fact, they appear to have ignored yesterday’s widespread connection problems with the announcement of a Modern Warfare 2 free weekend starting this friday. Indeed, even more Steam connection issues in the very near future!
I still got some time in as the craziness died down, so I got a good look at the maps included in the Stimulus Package. Apparently Infinity Ward has decided to separate them from the regular maps, offering up the Stimulus Package in a separate Stimulus* game mode. This 12-player game mode rotates between Team DeathMatch, Demolition, Domination, Capture The Flag, Search & Destroy and Headquarters Pro. It’s essentially Mosh Pit, but exclusively with Stimulus maps.
Bailout is a huge map in an apartment-complex turned warzone. One side of the map is mostly open with a few smaller buildings, whereas the other side of the map is a long stretch of, mostly internal, corridors. It’s not a very good sniper map despite its enormous size, because of a wealth of trees, walls, bridges and small buildings that block the line of sight in most areas of the map. The corridors inside the apartment complex are ideal for shotguns however.
Salvage is a snowy junkyard map, with practically no open stretches but lots of twists and turns. This makes it ideal for shotguns, whereas campers are unlikely to survive for any decent stretch of time, because there are multiple ways to get to any part of the map. It’s also a very flat map, with few buildings and almost no higher level areas, which allows for a lot of nifty grenade play. It provides very little cover from aerial killstreaks such as Harriers and Chopper Gunners, which makes it easy to rack up a lot of kills if you’re in the lead.
Storm is another large map, with an abandoned warehouse setting. It’s ideal for team games such as Demolition, Domination and Capture the Flag, but heavily favors campers. There are a lot of sneaky places where you’re hard to see and kill, but can still cover a large stretch of ground with your assault rifle/sniper rifle. It’s also less than ideal for Team DeathMatch, with a layout that favors objective-based play rather than straight up fragging.
Crash is a returning map from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare that I hadn’t played before. It’s huge and there are a lot of open areas, which are bordered by perfect vantage points in a wealth of broken down buildings. You would think that it would heavily favor camp-and-snipe gameplay, but with a wealth of covered backdoor passages to any location on the map it’s surprisingly well-balanced. Killstreaks aren’t very useful on Crash, because there is a lot of cover surrounding the center of the map.
Overgrown is a returning Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare map that I had played before. It’s another large map, set in a broken down village with a dried up creekbed running down the center. I think I like this map better than the others, because it provides an absolutely perfect balance between sniper and regular gameplay. There are huge sightlines to cover a lot of ground, but any snipers taking position to cover these can be taken down rather easily from another direction. It also provides a perfect balance between wide-open areas and indoor areas, with 50% of the map consumed by each.
So yes, the maps are good. But I wonder how they’re supposed to work in the other game modes, or whether they’re even accessible in those at all. We’ve only played Stimulus* mode yesterday so I haven’t gotten around to trying that out yet.
And while the maps are good – amongst the best in Modern Warfare 2 – it doesn’t change the fact that the package is ridiculously overpriced at 14 euro for 5 maps. It’s not quite as bad as 25 euro for a mount or 10 euro for horse armor, but it comes close.
New maps do extend the livespan of a multiplayer game significantly, but this package is priced similarly to fullblown expansion packs for other games, such as Lord of the Rings Online’s Siege of Mirkwood. Still, if you play a lot of Modern Warfare 2 online, then I suppose there are worse things you could spend your money on…