Ah, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. It's been a while, I left not long after launch. I remember something about the multiplayer, I believe I had a good time with it too. This was before everyone started cheating their way through the ranks, and before anyone had reached far enough for the whole "Prestige mode" thingie became relevant and a source of flame wars across the Internet.
But guess what, I'm back. The Stimulus Package has been released, it's already been downloaded more than 2,5 million times. If you're serious about your Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer, you've already downloaded it and played the new maps so many times you know them by heart already. For you, the 1200 points Activision asked for them was probably worth it. But for me, a casual player that haven't touched the game at all for months? How about people just like me, that only wants to play a few games here and there and are just as happy to get fragged as they are when they get the occasional kill? Is it worth it to us?
First of all, I had forgotten one thing about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The game has a serious attitude problem. It's the baddest of all the bad asses out there. It's so bad ass that it makes Crysis look like The Secret of Monkey Island. It kicks ass, takes names and eats full metal jacket bullets for breakfast. If you used to play Modern Warfare 2 last year, and have given games like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 or Lead and Gold: The Gangs of the Wild West a go since then, this might come as a bit of a shock. Not the kind of shock that makes you sit up and straight and grab the controller so hard that your knuckles go white. No, no. The kind of narcoleptic shock that made me almost fall asleep. The attitude gets old that fast.
But sure, I guess some people like it that way - I had forgotten how much Modern Warfare 2 enjoyed screaming at you when you did anything wrong. Fine, let's keep our eyes focused on what is actually important here: The Stimulus Package. The three new maps (Salvage, Storm and Bailout) and the two old ones from the first game (Overgrown, Crash), costing a total of 1200 points.
To be perfectly honest, the three new maps are not very exciting. They might fit the incredibly fast and unforgiving tone of the game, but they still feel pretty uninspired. Storm is probably the worst of the bunch, where you dodge between cargo containers and in and out of storage facilities. Compared to some of the maps that came with the game itself - especially Terminal and Invasion - they don't really bring much new to the game. One would assume that the months between the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and the release of the map pack would give the developers ample time to finely tune their skills for the first DLC, bringing out maps that leave the old ones dead in the water. But not here, with Storm being particularly uninteresting.
It's no big surprise then, that the two most interesting maps in The Stimulus Package are the ones from the first game - Overgrown and Crash. Overgrown in particular puts the three new maps in perspective. Not only is the level more interesting when it comes to overall design, but it's also a lot more fun to look at - fighting outside, in Russian farmland, is a lot more fun than amongst a bunch of containers or in a salvage yard.
The whole Stimulus Package puts the older maps in perspective; when putting together both of the Modern Warfare-games, it's as if Infinity Ward dared to take chances, that they felt creative and put a lot of time and effort into crafting cool and memorable levels. From that came maps as great as Overgrown or as intense as Highrise. Now, it is as if they've run out steam and the end result is a way too easily forgettable couple of maps.
For the casual player, like yours truly, Stimilus Package feels terribly overpriced. If it had consisted of five maps as good as Overgrown or Crash, I would have been more hesitant to call it that - then we'd at least be paying for what I feel is quality. But with Battlefield Bad Company 2 competing for multiplayer gamers, Infinity Ward and Activision need to step up their game and deliver products a lot more solid than the sloppiness that is Storm.