Call of Duty: World at War's first map went live this morning. Here's a breakdown of how fun each of the new maps really are.
I scorned World at War at first because I was forced to poke at the Wii version before the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 incarnations. Even then, I still didn't really enjoy the game because I'm burnt out on World War II shooters. But I know a good map when I see one; and I know that what makes a map pack worth the money is variety.
Variety doesn't even begin to describe Nazi Zombies.
You're turned loose in a half-collapsed tunnel station presumably somewhere in Eastern Europe. There are lots of tight corners and dead-ends to work around and not nearly enough sniper vantage points. Even if you do get to one of the two camping spots that I found without being spotted, the level is so claustrophobic that sooner or later somebody will come around the corner with a shotgun and that'll be pretty much it. Weapons of choice seemed to be mini guns, rifles and the occasional well-placed knife to the throat. Because the level is so difficult to move around in, the pace moves pretty fast - and some of your best kills will come from spawning behind somebody as they run by.
You're dropped in a burned-out Berlin where nearly every wall has a hole in it big enough for three people to climb through and most staircases lead to nowhere. The level is dark, supposedly to make you use the burning fires in some of the buildings as your only source of light; but it's pretty easy to spot the flare of gunfire out in the street. To me, this is the weakest of the three multiplayer maps because it just doesn't feel that big or that intricate. Almost all paths lead to out to the street, so more often than not you find yourself being funneled there immediately after respawning, where a gunfight's already in progress. Not very sneaky, not very fun.
I don't see why this map wasn't included at launch. It's got all the depth and size of a full-blown level and the look and feel of it really screams "You're fighting the Japanese, not the Germans!" which is the change of pace World at War was going for in the first place. There are tons of places to hide in this level (though only a few really choice sniper points - too many trees make for bad sighting) and one or two good stretches of open space for a straight-up firefight. My personal favorite: under a bridge with a shotgun or a grenade. They suspect nothing!
Nazi Zombies on Zombie Verrückt
Up to four players are dropped in an abandoned hospital/asylum on Verrückt, two in each wing of the first floor. A power outage seals the electronic door between the two teams of players and suddenly zombies start crawling out of the ground in and around the hospital. Both teams have to shoot the undead Nazis down before they get to the barricaded doors and windows. Shooting Nazi zombies earns each team points which they can spend to repair barricades, buy weapons or open up blocked passages in the hospital. The goal is to get to the top floor, turn the power back on and join up with the other team to kill all the zombies.
It's co-op, alright - but it winds up being competitive. Each team has their own pool of points to use on Perks-a-Cola machines, weapons, defenses and the stuff. But both teams are free to shoot at whatever zombies appear, so you'll find yourself kill-stealing from the other team just so you can get the points to buy the shotgun or move up to the next floor for better vantage points.
The thrill of the level increases as you move up floors because you can no longer babysit the barricades on the first floor. Each new wave of zombies gets increasingly aggressive, even if there aren't necessarily more of them per wave. Eventually, zombies will work their way into the building and then it becomes Left4Dead - but with Nazis. You've got to stick with your teammates and constantly revive them if you want to stay alive.
I don't care if it's unrealistic, I don't care if you don't like co-op levels; this is the best damn thing Call of Duty has ever done.
The Call of Duty: World at War map pack goes for $9.99 on PSN and Xbox Live. There are plans to release the pack for PC "at a later date."