Call of Duty: World at War Map Pack 1 Review

The creatively named Call of Duty: World at War Map Pack 1 was released March 2009. It included three new multiplayer maps and one new map for the Nazi Zombies cooperative mode.

Several of my friends continually insisted that the map pack’s cost of 800 Microsoft Points (roughly 10 US dollars) was worth it for the new Nazi Zombies map alone. After downloading and trying the map out, I’m inclined to agree. The “Verruckt” Nazi Zombies map is exponentially more complicated than the original “Nacht Der Untoten” map that shipped with World At War. I’m not normally an avid fan of cooperative modes: my friends and I quickly tired of the Horde mode in Gears of War 2 and Left4Dead’s short campaigns, mainly because each playthrough seemed much the same.


In contrast, every game of Nazi Zombies on the “Verruckt” map has been a unique experience and managed to keep the interest of my friends and I far longer than I would have thought possible for a simple co-op mode. The basic mechanics are the same as they were in the first Nazi Zombies mode: guns cost money, and money is made by killing zombies, with bonuses available for headshots and knife kills.  Money can also be used to remove barriers between rooms, by opening doors or removing debris blocking staircases.


There isn’t just one strategy or tactic that is the most successful in Verruckt, or even a single gun that is the most useful. (the alien ray gun may be an instant kill, but it will also kill you with splash damage at point blank) Instead, it’s all about cooperation: unlike the original Nazi Zombies map, which started all four players in the same room, Verruckt starts out with them separated in groups of two. This adds another element to the game: deciding how long the separated teams should wait before they try to turn the power back on and remove the barriers separating them.

Each team has to remove several barriers to reach the power room, and this adds significant risk.  Every door that is opened by the players opens up many new points of entry for the nazi zombies, so if the team doesn’t have enough money to reach the power room and turn on the power quickly, they could find themselves stranded from the other two players with zombies pouring in from dozens of breaches in the defenses.


On the other hand, if a team waits too long before trying to reach the power room, they could find themselves undergunned, as powerful weapons are not available in the initial starting area. This is an example of how simply putting a door between the two groups of players suddenly makes the game mode far more tactical and deep.

There really isn’t anything out there like the Nazi Zombies Verruckt map, and for any fan of cooperative modes, or zombie games in general, this map alone is easily worth the 10 dollar admission price of Map Pack 1. I’m not even a particularly avid fan of either coop modes or zombies, but I found it a great deal nonetheless.

The other three multiplayer maps are icing on the cake for the aforementioned group. I was expecting a run of the mill group of maps, with no special or unique traits to differentiate them from the ones originally included in World At War. However, I was surprised by the quality of all three maps: they are very different from the ones originally shipped with the game, and in my opinion all of them are a step above the previous maps.

Station is the smallest of the maps, taking place in an underground German subway scarred by bombardment. Surprisingly, Station is great for both running and gunning with machine guns and bolt action sniping. I had thought that these two kinds of gameplay were mutually exclusive, that smaller maps favored submachine guns and fast paced games, and that larger maps favored the longer ranged sniper rifles and semi-automatic weapons. However, Station manages to do both very well.


There are enough side rooms and labyrinth like areas for those who prefer running and gunning to use as cover from snipers, yet there are also great sniper positions on both sides of the map. Snipers who know what they are doing will be able to find a perch on a train car or behind a fence in such a way  that most enemies will run into their line of fire while still at a very significant range. Because of this, Station is probably the only map out of all of those included in World At War and Map Pack 1 in which the unscoped bolt action rifle is actually a very versatile and competitive weapon.


The Japanese theatre map included in Map Pack 1 is Knee Deep, which takes place in a village situated in and around a swamp. It’s somewhat similar to the Makin map originally included in World At War, except that it takes place in bright daylight rather than the night.

While Knee Deep doesn’t instantly seem very different from some of the other Japanese theatre maps, the spawning system seems to encourage firefights centred around a certain bridge and bunker complex. The firefights around this area have been some of the best cat and mouse ones I’ve ever experienced in World At War, as both sides have plenty of buildings and cover to use for long and short ranged weapons alike. This is especially noticeable on Objective maps, where one side usually has to take a flag near the bridge and bunker area.


The third multiplayer map included in Map Pack 1 is Nightfire, a nighttime map set in a devastated Berlin city block. This map is also different from the original maps in the kind of gameplay that it encourages. Like Station, the map is well balanced whether you are using a sniper rifle or shotgun. Sniper perches have lines of fire over most of the map, but are also exposed and highly visible to others. Burning buildings make a very clear silhouette of snipers up in second story buildings, something that has proven to be my bane a few times over. Players who prefer short range firefights should stick to the side alleys and interiors of buildings. Either way, I had a great time playing the Nightfire map.


Overall, I was very surprised with the improvement that the map pack’s multiplayer and Nazi Zombies maps showed over the original World At War maps. I’m trying to avoid coming across as a crazed fan or advertising shill, but Map Pack 1 really isn’t standard overpriced and unnecessary DLC. Map Pack 1 is not just more of the same, it improves on the original multiplayer experience in every way, no matter how you prefer playing. If your friends are still playing World at War, the 10 dollar price is a great deal for a highly replayable group of maps.

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