“Call of Duty: World at War” Map Pack 1 hits PS3 and Xbox 360 today.

A collection of maps for the excellent FPS Call of Duty: World at War hits the Xbox 360 and PS3 online stores today. It includes three new multiplayer maps named Nightfire, Knee Deep and Station, but more importantly it includes a new Co-op Zombie map called Verrückt. This brings the number of zombie co-op maps up to two and it brings with it a bunch of enhancements the first zombie map didn’t have such as more weapons and vending machines that dispense drinks that give you useful perks. Here’s the trailer for it:

Hoo boy, but that does look fun! In honor of the launch they’re doing a full week of Double XP and you have a chance of playing against some of the developers who brought us the game (a full list of PSN IDs is available on the Playstation Blog). The map back will set you back $9.99 on the PS3 and 800 Points on the Xbox 360.

Unfortunately for me I play the PC version so it’s going to be a bit long before I can enjoy the new maps. They’re working on a new patch and the DLC as I type, but there’s no word on when it’ll be available. Still it’ll get here before too long and then I’ll be happy.

Early game impressions: Call of Duty World at War.

It’s no big secret that I’m a huge fan of the CoD franchise so it should probably go without saying that I loaded up Call of Duty: World at War with high expectations. At the same time I had my doubts as this is the first CoD by the folks at Treyarch I’ve played. I never played CoD 3 because it was console only so my only experiences have been with the Infinity Ward produced versions all of which I’ve loved.

The good news is that they used the same engine as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare so it’s got a solid foundation to begin with. The bad news, for me at least, is that it’s taking full advantage of the engine with some very lush environments full of detail and foliage. With CoD4 the game wanted to run at 800×600 resolution with most of the effects turned off, but I could squeak it up to my monitor’s native resolution of 1680×1050 and it would play OK on most maps, but chug a little on the maps with lots of vegetation. In comparison CoD:WaW just kills my video card. It’s unplayable at any resolution higher than the 800×600 with almost all the effects turned off as suggested by the “optimal settings” option. This isn’t the fault of the software so much as my hardware.

I last did a major upgrade on my PC in early 2006 while I was working in-house at my previous contract house. I was trying to keep the cost down so I only bought a new motherboard, processor, and what was a mid-rang video card at the time which was a GeForce 7600GT. I went with the cheaper card with the intention of buying a second one before too long and setting them up in a SLI configuration, but never got around to it. Since then I’ve bumped my RAM up to 2GB and switched up to a dual-core AMD 4200+ processor, but I’m still running the same video card and it’s starting to show its age. I believe my processor and RAM is still more than adequate to run most of today’s games outside of Crysis—most of my specs exceed the recommended minimums for CoD:WaW—but the video card remains a weak point. Alas I don’t have the funds at the moment to buy anything newer so I’m stuck with it. With a little luck I’ll get some money for Christmas that I could put towards a new card. There are several mid-range (less than $150) cards these days that should be more than adequate for the games I’m playing to choose from if I do.

That said, the game so far still looks pretty great considering most of the effects are turned off and the resolution is so low. I’ve only got a little way into the solo game and a couple of hours with the multiplayer, but what I’ve seen so far I’ve liked. I still have to try out the co-op mode and the Zombie Nazi survival mode and I’d like to get through the whole solo game before writing a full on review, but I’m enjoying it so far. Well, other than the deaths in multiplayer due to my poor video card choking at a critical moment, but otherwise it’s been a lot of fun. Expect a full review once I get some more time in with the game.