Version tested: Xbox 360
Have you ever repainted your living room? I haven't, but I watched my Dad do it once, so I got the gist. Essentially what happens is that you get a bit bored with your increasingly dowdy Eggshell white walls, then you go mental with a fresh coat of Magnolia. For a short while, it's amazing: the room is brighter and fresher, you feel happier and more productive just for standing in it. Then, after a while, the newness fades and you forget that it was ever any other colour than boring old Magnolia. You're happy enough, but the burst of newness has faded. Until you hear about Blossom White that is! A snip at only 1200 Microsoft Points!
For what becomes little more than a change of scenery after a few hours' play, it cannot be denied that Modern Warfare 2 map packs are expensive for what they are. Five maps, two of which are recycled, working out at about two quid each. Quite a lot for Almond White turning to White Cotton; although admittedly, with MW2's tight unlock and experience system, it's hard to think of what else could be air-dropped in without making wholesale changes to a system that works, and works well.
Let's get down to brass tacks, though: I love Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer, and I love the smell of fresh paint. I'm one of those people: sorry. I have neither become distant due to the power of Bad Company 2 nor the present ill-will towards Activision. Any addition to the moving, bloodied wallpaper of Headquarters Pro or Demolition will give me a surge of happiness like nothing else. The joy will fade, all things do, but as of right now I will leap at any opportunity to open up a new vein for this particular habit.
1200 MS points? I pumped three times that into Crazy Taxi when it first hit the arcades. I've been fined four times that by Southern Rail for the simple crime of losing a ticket. And for an initial double XP weekend? For that I'm more than happy to piss my money so far up the wall that even Bobby Kotick in distant America-land can feel the spray of golden coins on his smiling chiselled face.
So (seeing as Activision have me at the word "teem" of Craig Fairbrass sighing "teem deffmatch" into a microphone) it's just as well that the maps in the Resurgence Pack are of a consistently high quality. As a package they undeniably fit together well, each with their own style and some with - dare I say it - a little bit of uniqueness to boot. Let's deal with the returning favourites first, both of which are updated versions of Modern Warfare classics with spruced up art and a few minor tweaks to smooth out game flow.
Vacant is a network of tumbledown Russian offices that encourages all manner of close-quarters gunplay and hopeful room-to-room flashbang lobs. To me it's always felt like Modern Warfare's variation on CS_Office, and it remains as death-hungry as it ever was. Attached to said office and its windowed kill garden, meanwhile, is a warehouse where the perennial battle between outdoor snipers and indoor bomb guardians is played out through its wide, open entrance.
It's a great map, but also one that newcomers will want to be wary of; a quick game of Search and Destroy will deposit the young and innocent to a camera-view within seconds.
Strike, meanwhile, is a Middle Eastern affair, not a million miles away from the feel of Invasion. It's a network of streets, with various shop fronts and buildings surrounding a central square where a proud dictator raises an AK47 to the skies and those around him defuse and refuse bombs while the bullets fly.
Personally, I'm not a fan of Strike, but the map's presence in Resurgence proves it has fans, even if for some reason it rarely seems to pop up in MW2's frequently infuriating playlist roster. It certainly allows for some madcap building-to-building dashes, as well as many and varied longer-range viewpoints for the sniping fraternity, yet has markedly less character than the maps it rubs shoulders with.
And so we beat on, away from the past and into the new. Fuel is a rather interesting map, essentially coming over as a less lonesome version of Derail. It's a large map split in two, where those who enjoy polishing their scopes can settle down and camp in the distance with their sandwiches and a flask of weak lemon drink. Elsewhere, in a network of oil-refining buildings, all the young duelling ruffians can duke it out at closer quarters, although not quite at the shotgun-friendly level of an indoor-focussed map like Vacant. At the end of the day though: everyone is happy.
You can tell that Fuel is a well-designed map because your deaths rarely feel unfair or the result of a recent enemy spawn. Meanwhile, for what's a large map, you also rarely seem to stray too far away from the action, as can often happen in Derail, its colder counterpart. Take the lightweight and marathon perks into battle here, or a top-end sniper rifle, and you've certainly got a contender for one of the best maps yet released for Modern Warfare 2.
In my games so far, various pre-pubescent voices could be heard moaning about Trailer Park over the headset, but personally I adored it. It's a collection of narrow winding paths between mobile homes, barbecues and beer barrels that fizz when they got shot - ostensibly adjacent to the airplane boneyard you fight through in the single player campaign.
What with its tight, messy interiors and wider spaces surrounded by static caravan windows to poke your gun barrel through, it's great for game modes like Headquarters. The death count is notably high (only the very best will start racking up killstreaks from the word go) but you never have to run far to hit an exciting engagement at a chokepoint or a bombsite that needs your attention. Until they learn its intricacies, the hardcore long-range obsessives may well moan about it, but Trailer Park certainly provides for some condensed, and suitably intense, bouts of gunplay.
Finally, Carnival: a Brazilian fun park where your first matches will invariably feature both a) mistakenly firing at wooden clowns and b) investigating said wooden clowns only to be knifed in the back of the head.
Initially it can feel slightly gimmicky, what with its shoot-outs in and around the park's funhouse, dodgems, magic castle and nearby rickety rollercoaster. On top of this, there are various incidental details such as a Call of Duty arcade machine that strangely has Mario on the side, and a Zoltan Fortune Telling machine (like the one in Big) whose bearded mannequin looks an awful lot like Modern Warfare chief baddie Zakhaev - and also looks great when fed a few bullets.
It is, however, easily the most visually alluring Modern Warfare 2 map so far, and great fun to scrap in. For a start, sniping platforms are fairly visible to each other, and allow for some Enemy at the Gates-style bullets to be exchanged in the air above the heads of most of the other combatants. Meanwhile, the subtly different rival spawn points in modes like CTF (one a concave entrance to the tighter confines of a magic fort, the other a wider area surrounded by a convex circular barrier) make for some unique and intriguing gameplay.
The simple pleasure of holding out against the enemy in an area that looks a little bit like Pat Sharpe's Funhouse, meanwhile, cannot be understated. The only major issue with it is that trying to spot a sniper on the rollercoaster, especially from below and through its rickety boards, is an absolute pain. It really is an area best left well alone unless the game mode or a spawn demands it, or indeed if you are said sniper.
There's little doubt in my mind that Resurgence is of a higher quality than Stimulus, but the price clearly still niggles. For me, it's an automatic purchase; for those who have drifted away and quietly want to break things whenever they hear the phrase "Tango Sucker!" then a wait for a potential price drop might still be advised.
Until you return, though (and one day, when you've completed one game and have yet to buy another, you almost certainly will) I'll be waiting for you in the whitewashed walls of Carnival funhouse. I'll have a mile-long stare, and I'll still be getting cut to ribbons by players whose voices sound alarmingly like The Stotts, but I'll be happy in my own little world. And Activision will be happy with my money. In short, everyone will be happy.
8 / 10
The Resurgence Pack is exclusive to the Xbox 360 version of Modern Warfare 2 for the time being.