This week saw the latest content drop from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for Xbox 360 gamers, Content Collection 2. To celebrate its release, Activision invited various bloggers and industry types the chance to play the new maps and missions against each other, including GAME. Trouble is, some of the others were very, VERY good!
Along with the now-standard multiplayer maps and Special Ops missions, the big news for Collection 2 were the new 'Face Off' maps - smaller, concentrated multiplayer maps designed for a maximum of 3-on-3 matches. Activision told us that Face Off came out of a lot of players simply wanting to do smaller online matches with friends, rather than larger, online multiplayer battles.
Face Off battles make you think differently from normal multiplayer fighting. With the smaller scale of the maps, there's no room to escape and regroup, and barely time to think about tactics - it's all about reflex, moving fast, and getting your opponent before they get you. Close quarters combat is what these maps are all about, but veteran players will still be able to find good places for sniping, and, thanks to the size of the maps, it's much easier to identify respawn points and keep them covered for quick and easy kills.
We got a chance to sample each of the Face Ops maps, each with its own way to use the size to its advantage. Getaway seemed to be the firm favourite, a tropical beach house that, based on the contents of the safe, must've belonged to some recently-departed drug lord. The bright lighting gives you a real sense of heat, and the open-plan house with with glass partitions and open outside areas gives very few places to hide (you could hid in the pool, but stay there too long and you, well, drown). Lookout takes you to an abandoned mountain outpost and is almost the opposite to Getaway - with its huts and terrain, it's much more maze-like where trouble (and death) is around every corner. And for us, playing against some of the top level MW3 players in the country, it really was!
There are also a couple of free Face Off maps on COD: Elite that are yours to try ahead of grabbing Collection 2: Erosion and Aground. Taking place in Roman ruins and a rusted, grounded tanker in the Scottish Highlands respectively, both feature a lot more verticality than the other two maps, with catwalks and swamp areas, and the falling-apart scenery allowing for more cover-based run-and-gun action.
While Face Off was the real focus of the evening, Activision also gave us a tour around the 'traditional' multiplayer maps. Sanctuary, set in a monastery in the Greek mountains, looks gorgeous - not a word normally associated with Call of Duty! The attention to detail is amazing, especially the reflective marble floor. It's designed for maximum multiplayer action - the nooks and crannies of the cloisters allow for close quarters action, the open courtyard for line-of-sight shooting. Foundation, on the other hand, is all about verticality, the abandoned factory offering lots of levels, plenty of tall vantage points, and plenty of sneaky spots. Plus there's Oasis, an Arabian hotel resort that merges labyrinthine corridors, open-space courtyards and verticality in one sun-drenched location.
The Special Ops missions, Ironclad and Kill Switch, were just as intense as the Face Off battles, with oodles of enemies out to stop you from succeeding. But they each had their moments of pure fun - the aerial targeting of enemy trucks and helicopters from your sniper position in Kill Switch, and the joys of tank driving in Ironclad. Just as Face Off is perfect for you and a friend to play against each other, these missions are perfect for you to play together.
The Modern Warfare 3 Content Collection 2 really seems to focus on more intimate missions that previous content, with some intense action and, especially with Face Off, a real sense of anything-can-happen. It's out on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 now, so grab your Xbox LIVE or PSN points, grab your friends and get stuck in!