You only need to check out the Game Add-Ons tab in the Xbox Live Game Store to see that the world of downloadable content, once so feared and mistrusted, is here to stay. There's been a bunch of notable new material released just recently - and even more since we started on this instalment in our Xbox Live DLC Roundup series - and most of it has helped to prove the naysayers wrong. There's been fresh content for recent blockbusters, and older cult favourites. There have been updates for full price releases as well as Live Arcade games. And, best of all, the paid-for content has generally been reasonably priced and balanced out with a surprising amount of freebies. Here are some recent examples that you might want to check out.
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - Variety Map Pack
- Overlord - Raising Hell expansion and Challenge Pack
- Ace Combat 6 - assorted planes and missions
- Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 - Co-op Collection 2
- Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock - various Track Packs
- Undertow - Path of the Elect expansion
- Turok - Multiplayer Map Pack
- Two Worlds - Tainted Blood and Curse of Souls Pack 2
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
- Variety Map Pack - 800 points (GBP 6.80 / EUR 9.60)
Having usurped Halo 3 as the 360 gamer's shooter of choice, the arrival of Call of Duty 4's first multiplayer map pack was bound to cause a bit of a stir. Offering four maps for 800 Points, we could quibble over the exact value for money offered per hundred Points or per map, but what's important is whether these new maps provide something worthwhile once you're signed in and ready to rumble. Thankfully, they do, with a pleasing spread of new challenges and familiar layouts, all tweaked and balanced to offer loads of different ways to play.
Creek is a good example of the attention to detail at work. A surprisingly vertical map, it features a large hill, an underground cave system and - as the name suggests - a creek. All suggest different routes and tactical possibilities, and when you add in a small cluster of buildings it means that the map never gets stale. There's always a different strategy to try.
Chinatown is one for the faithful Call of Duty fans, taking the layout of Caretan from Call of Duty 2 and swapping it from rural France to claustrophobic urban rat-run. Lots of interior play here, with the narrow corridors favouring shotgun play while the upper levels of buildings beg for sniper action. Ground troops trying to make their way through the streets will need to be fast, alert and accurate if they want to survive.
Killhouse is an aptly titled free-for-all map, set in a warehouse. It's almost entirely open-plan, with very little cover and few spots to hide. It's great fun for a brief rampage with no thought for tactics, but the featureless design ultimately makes it a short-lived treat. You'll exhaust its amusements fairly quickly.
Finally, Broadcast is this pack's single-player makeover map, set in the TV studio from the Charlie Don't Surf mission. It's a decent map, with the office cubicles making for some satisfying duck and cover shoot-outs, but this is the one map in this update that feels like it should've been in the game already. Paying for a multiplayer version of a single-player map you already have feels rather hard to swallow.
So, four maps for 200 Points apiece. Both Creek and Chinatown are the highlights - the sort of richly designed multiplayer arenas that you'll keep coming back to, changing your style of play every time. Creek is a particular favourite, although my personal preference skews to foresty outdoor maps anyway. Killhouse and Broadcast certainly aren't bad maps, but they do come with enough caveats to make the hefty price tag a little less enticing. It's enough to make it worth downloading for hopeless CoD addicts, but with Halo 3's Heroic Map Pack now free and a new Halo update due in mid-April, I was expecting something a little bit more...inventive.