Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Although I played its singleplayer component on PC, CoD4: Modern Warfare is the first FPS I've played online on console. It's solid; strangely addictive, but that's what polish and levelling will do to you. I know Activision would rather I play their games on PS3/360 than PC, so I'll be a good boy and do as they wish. Still, not a game session goes by where at least one of these thoughts pop into my head:

Regardless, there is a nice selection of maps that is shoehorned into every game mode. I play Team Deathmatch. (If I wanted to play Domination, I'd play Battlefield; if I wanted Search and Destroy, I'd play Counter-Strike; to me, Free for All makes no sense in this contemporary military setting.) Although the Headquarters game mode sounds cool, I have not spent time with it. So given all that, here are the stock Modern Warfare maps, as played on PS3, in order of sweet, sweet lovability. Note that lovability can still apply to even the worst maps; without them, there'd be nothing with which to gauge other bad experiences (e.g., you could discover a curly hair in your burrito, yet decide "this is still a bit better than playing Bloc").

Map Verdict Rating
Downed Sea Knight in a desert town. Compact, with lots of choke points.

Although small, the map's battle flow and location of hot zones vary with each session. Various map features contribute to this: multiple, but uniquely laid out chokepoints; not many long, unobstructed sightlines that can be used to farm kills; and three well-placed vengeance-inducing buildings. A great map for skilled snipers and close-quarter rushing types alike. I'm never unhappy to see this one come up.

Small desert town. Intense interior fighting and strong firefights.

Snipers can snipe, rushers can rush, lurkers can flank, and sometimes this combination results in a very dynamic experience, complete with sniping, infiltration, and heavy chokepoint battles. Things can become bland when everyone wants to do the same thing, whether it be sniping or rush 'n' chase, as the latter often turns the map into a spawn-swapping tennis match. Despite that possibility, the map almost always feels like it has ended too soon.

Large urban town with a market in the middle.

The size and layout of this map make me curious to see it in Domination or Headquarters. The sheer size sometimes makes it difficult to determine where firefights are shifting, but what saves it are the always dangerous opportunities for team flanks. No matter which direction one faces, there are two other directions of attack — no one is ever safe. Catching an entire team looking in another direction is a real thrill.

Large urban desert town.

Similar to District, I'd be curious to see how its layout fares in Domination or Headquarters. At times, the few elevated vantage points that can guard and initially control entire areas seem underused as tactical positions, but this may be more due to the paltry player limit on PS3. It doesn't change the ambitious layout of the map. Could always use a few more exploding cars!

Big rainy Russian farm.

A nice example of subtle symmetry: two machinegun-assisted spawn areas, each with maze-like staging areas, sandwich two different combat zones: the trickster's silos and rooftop on one side, and the closer-quarter-combat lover's hallways on the other. Despite the map's size, most kills need to happen up close, so tactics need to change depending on the location of the map. The main flaw is the greenhouse spawn side is inferior: the machinegun has fewer lines of sight, and the rear spawn area can be farmed for kills for what seems like an eternity.

Medium sized construction site and town.

Despite it being outdoors, the map feels very much like an indoor arena with Westworld-like structures created for everyone's deathmatching enjoyment. The layout feels a bit contrived, dispelling immersion for the sake of map-making practicality. Looking for ways to stop my interest from waning.

Deserted Russian office. Intense interior fighting.

Just because the FPS spent years trying to get out of the corridor environment, it doesn't mean we can't go back once in a while. "Intense interior fighting" is an accurate assessment: walking is asking to be flanked, 'nades are rarely spared, and the sound of gunfire is near constant. A losing side may enjoy a respite outside, but they're at risk from being flattened by an airstrike. Classic deathmatch style, in a contemporary environment, with conventional weapons. I'd buy that for a dollar!

Small desert bog.

Feels like a training map: snipers stand here, C4/claymore beginners go there, strafe-firing classes begin there. It's predictable, and if it ranked low on a player poll, I wouldn't be surprised. This map shouldn't be all that fun — but it is. Those disparate styles of play seem to coexist reasonably well. Offers a more entertaining version of flanking compared to Countdown.

Small desert arena.

With few turns that don't put you in at least two lines of fire, it is a straightforward deathmatcher's map. Met with plenty of indifference until I actually appreciated the "corkscrew" layout. Offers a game within a game for players who know how to work a map's spawn points. Although simple and at times, just plain dumb, good for those who are quick on their feet (metaphorically speaking) and want to test their aim and instincts.

Open launch pad. Huge sight lines and dangerous maneuvering.

At it's worst, it's Vacant if all the walls were removed. At it's best, it's an opporunity to enjoy some pretty serious spawn-killing should the opportunity ever arise. The checkerboard pattern created by the silos and tanks allows for mini- and meta-flanking, which can be pretty entertaining. Still: more often that not, a bit boring.

Large overgrown rural Russian area.

It's interesting (I'm being sarcastic) that snipers can, and do, set up on one of the two bridges when the riverbed below is dry. It's like some kind of bizarro version of the Maginot and Siegfried lines. Generally a bad layout for a Deathmatch game. Its only saving grace is the house with three approaches and entry points, that can be nurtured into a serious vengeance zone.

Russian trainyard.

The hollowed-out factories are, disappointingly, mere routes to somewhere else, typically outdoors. Underused areas that could otherwise make for interesting combat zones (the upper-floor warehouse offices, the trainyard) make the map more limiting than it theoretically has to be.

Large desert town. Excels in Sabotage matches.

In theory, there's a lot to like about two large, maze-like residential areas, each with a pair of upper-storey vantage points, all of which is bissected by a road that both provides plenty of cover, yet at the same time leaves one vulnerable. It just doesn't work in Team Deathmatch. There is rarely an exciting contest, as one side inevitably becomes farmed for spawn-kills. Due to the long distances required to travel the streets, a breakthrough flank rarely, if ever, happens. Oh, the ennui.

Wet Work
Medium-large cargo ship.

Throw 'nades, spawn, repeat. (Presumably) a throw-in map whose stupidity is accentuated when planes fly by and drop bombs. Hello. I'm on a boat. Luckily, the madness is short-lived due to the compactness of the killing zone. This confusing mess of a level also sucked in the singleplayer game.

Large Ukrainian apartment bloc very close to Chernobyl.

The premise behind this -- apartment-block fighting -- is pretty promising. The actual implementation stinks. Grey, poorly detailed, and boring. The worst variation of the block vs. block showdown is two teams of mediocre snipers, pot-shotting at each other for so long, it takes the map time limit to end the nightmare. The moment I see the statue of the machinegun soldier in the preview thumbnail, I belt out a shrill war cry before frantically stabbing the gamepad controls to vote to skip.


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