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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Package
Score: 97%
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward
Media: Download/1
Players: 1, 2 - 18 (online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/Action

Stimulate Me:

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, released November 2007, set a new standard for FPS console games, bringing the storied series into the modern age and offering a robust and addictive multiplayer experience unlike anything else available at the time. The announcement of a sequel in February 2009, well over a year after the initial release, was made to a fan-base that was still extremely active and very excited about the next installment. On release day, November 10, 2009, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (commonly referred to as simply Modern Warfare 2 or MW2) shattered sales records, moving an astounding 4.7 million copies during the first 24 hours. As of March, 2010, more than 14 million copies had been sold worldwide. While the story was short and controversial, the multiplayer aspect delivered and then some, even with the glitches and exploits that are inherent to these type of games. It was certainly no surprise to anyone when Infinity Ward and Activision announced the scheduled release of at least two DLC map packs. The first DLC, entitled Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Package, was released on XBox 360 on March 30, 2010 (slated for release on other platforms on April 30, 2010). MW2 Stimulus Package consists of five maps, including three newly designed areas and two revisits of the most popular maps from Call of Duty 4. Despite much ballyhooing on internet forums and chatrooms about the cost ($15 US), the DLC was purchased over 1 million times during the first 24 hours of release and 2.5 million times during the first week. The question then becomes, was it worth it?

In With The Old...:

For those players that spent untold hours experiencing Call of Duty 4, names such as "Downpour," "Vacant," and "Bloc" all stimulate some instinctual feeling deep down inside, be it excitement or disappointment. Unlike the three previously listed areas, which were, by most accounts, the least popular of the original multiplayer maps in COD4, a few names stood out among the pack. Two of these, judged the most popular through various means of intelligence gathering (they could tell us, but then they would have to kill us), were "Overgrown" and "Crash." Seemingly without any alteration, these maps are now available to players of Modern Warfare 2 via the new MW2 Stimulus Package DLC. While this may seem like laziness or money-grubbing to some players, considering that little work had to be done in order to "resell" these maps, perhaps thinking of them as lagniappe to the three new maps would be a better approach. Whatever the sentiment about cost, there is little doubt that these maps prove as enticing now as they did in 2007. While it does appear that the creek glitch in "Overgrown" has been fixed, the problem of spawn-camping in "Crash" is still an unresolved issue. Though not technically a glitch, it is an extremely frustrating occurrence (for the team being camped) that is much harder to replicate in any other map, old or new. Still, this minor issue does little to dampen the enthusiasm of those who hold such fond memories of the time spent pushing for that next prestige.

And In With The New:

Not to be outdone by the grandfather maps, the new batch of locations hold plenty of multiplayer mayhem for all comers. Players often greet new maps and content in games with equal parts anticipation and anxiety. The hope of a wonderful new experience is tempered by the realization that the DLC just may not live up to the expectations. Some of the more negative gamers begin nay-saying the content almost immediately. Thankfully, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Package will silence most (certainly not all) of these gamers. The new maps are well thought out and designed, with a nice diversity of location and impressive in both scale and detail. "Salvage" is the smallest of the new maps, staging the players in a wintry scrapyard with multiple alleys and small buildings, making navigation through the twists and turns exciting and fun. "Storm" is centered around a large warehouse. Players can use the various outbuildings and rail-car boxes for movement and cover, but the firefights within the main building are sure to be something to behold. Lastly, "Bailout" is set in a suburban apartment complex. Unlike "Bloc" from COD4, these apartments are not bombed out shells long abandoned. Instead, though they do sport obvious signs of recent combat, these recently occupied abodes still house furniture, pictures, clothing and vending machines. The long sight-lines and multi-tiered layout of this large level make it ideal for several styles of gameplay.

We Are Oscar Mike:

After many hours spent playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Package, one conclusion becomes astonishingly clear: the hours spent in development were not wasted. The three new maps are outstanding across a variance of game types. It is evident that many of the match choices available to players were taken into account while designing the layout of the maps. The differing atmospheres and visually stunning nature of these three new areas remove any feeling of cookie-cutter development. Learning the layout of the maps is fairly quick, but discovering the nuances will take a bit longer. There are still some "camping" spots that will aggravate certain players, but there are generally ways to flank these positions for the observant gamer, making no area safe for any one person to hold indefinitely. As enjoyable as the new maps are, the old ones are equally as welcome. Very subtle tweaks may have been included in these, but for those players that spent literally days playing Call of Duty 4, they still feel like home. For players who want to learn the new maps (and play the old ones) in live games without having to wait for them to cycle into the normal rotation, there is, for the time being, the option of playing in the "Stimulus" rooms, where matches of various types are run using only the maps from the DLC.

So, after hours of playing these maps and time spent surfing the various forums and chatrooms, the answer to the original question appears to be that, even at a cost of $15, this DLC is well worth the cost in the opinion of most gamers. The addiction that is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Package beckons. This is Taskforce 141, we are Oscar Mike!

-The Mung Bard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Buddy Ethridge

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