I've not been a fan of the Call of Duty: Zombies series for some time now. Don't get me wrong, I truly adored it when it first released on World at War. But as the games went on, I found myself enjoying the games less and less, up to the point of not playing at all with Call of Duty: Black Ops III. However working for the lovely people of KeenGamer gave me an opportunity that I didn't think I would ever get. I was able to go through the greatest hits of Call of Duty: Zombies with the DLC, Chronicles. No, there is no Five or Transit, only the maps that featured the original four characters are remaining in the game. I suppose you'll all have to wait for the next DLC pack to come out. But before we go on our giddy way, enjoying what is to come, we better take a look at what we currently have. If we don't like what we have, we won't want anymore. Right?
Instead of my traditional, overall review status, I thought we'd take a different approach for this pack. Because there are so many maps, I've done reviews of each individual map. Why? Because it's a lot easier to explain each map in chunks, rather than overall as one.
NACHT DER UNTOTEN
Right off the bat you should hopefully notice the new and fresh visual style. The map itself feels a lot more fleshed out and detailed. Because of this brighter tone, I felt the game was trying to distract me from some of the major changes that may not have settled well with me. I guess I categorise as an old school player? The most obvious change is that perks have been added to the map, sort of. Mule Kick has its own perk machine in the opening section of the map. As for every other perk? Well, all the perks have been placed in something called "Perk-a-Cola" and it'll take some time to explain what this actually is. Not really, it's just somewhere to buy a random perk. It's not too bad but not too good at the same time. It really makes you prioritise which perks you need and which you don't.
Every map features the Call of Duty: Black Ops III weapons. This annoyed me to some extent, especially when some of the original guns are still present. The Ray Gun has been remade and I'm pretty sure it takes longer to reload it. The MP40 is present also, but I'm again sure that's in the multiplayer of this game anyway. Due to time constraints, I didn't have much time to play on all the maps, but I still pushed myself to round thirty on this map. I'm not sure why I did this, but I just ended up doing it. Maybe it's because I found this map to be the most fun out of all of them. That's impressive, arguably the most boring map of all is the one that interests me the most. Maybe it's because of nostalgia, that was a big deal for me when playing this map and a few of the others. What I noted was that there has been a definite difficulty increase. More zombies that are faster, but even with this increase, the perks and upgraded weapons make it a genuine breeze to get to round twenty five and more. By round thirty I was bored and just let myself die, especially considering I'd spent an hour on one map. I think the reason I was bored was because it was far too easy with perks. I managed to get the Ray Gun Mark II on my first box opening and from there all challenge was lost completely. Of course, for those thirty rounds, my childhood fears of this map were revitalised, especially in the earlier portion of the map. It was eerie and impressive that this map managed to conjure up so much fear that I haven't felt in eight years.
What I thought was interesting is that even with perk machines, there is no power to turn on. That's fair enough I suppose, you can't make too many changes to a map and expect it to be the same as it was before. I'm impressed that Treyarch pulled this off so well. Of course, changes do have to be made, and that comes in the form of bonus points at every corner. By every corner I mean at the end of the round, you'll get points simply for surviving. There came a point in the game where I didn't even understand the point of giving me points anymore, I ended the game with 100,000 unspent points. I could have spent them on the Gobblegum machines that are dotted around the map, but I felt like I was cheating, it was already easy enough without the Gobblegum machines. You're technically able to have six perks and four weapons by using Gobblegum and that really takes the challenge away.
Rounds survived: 30
Right off the bat, I was hesitant to enter this map. Not because I don't like it, but because of how much fear I feel when I play this map. It started off well, but then it was lost rather efficiently when three other people also popped into the map and started running circles around me. I wish I'd played all of the maps solo, but for some I thought playing multiplayer would be a better experience. I was wrong.
Right off the bat we've got the similar changes the previous map had. Uniquely, the Wunderwaffe DG-2 is present in this map, and I cannot remember for the life of me if it was in the original map. I don't think it was, Shi No Numa was the introduction for that weapon and Hellhounds, we'll get onto that later. Alongside that, the Perk-A-Cola machine is available, even though the original four perks have their own machines. I don't think Mule Kick has its own machine, I didn't see it kicking around anywhere so I'm going to take that with a grain of salt. Really all this map did was make me miss playing the original game even more, I had a similar experience playing Nacht Der Untoten. Still, this map made me realise that not only were the perks making things easier, but the fact that you can carry attachments on weapons into the game made it even easier. For example, the Drakon is a one hit kill up until round twenty, it's just a matter of making sure you don't die. But as soon as you have yourself an Argus shotgun and Drakon rifle with a red dot sight, the game is a cake walk.
These Gobblegum powerups were very new to me, and I felt that this was the map that best showed me the ropes of these powerups. My brother managed to unlock the majority of these powerups so I used a couple of them on this map. I certainly feel a lot better than I did before about the powerups, at first I was alienated by them, but now it's much easier to get the hang of them. Buying a gun off of the wall and turning it into a Pack-a-Punch weapon instantly? That's something I can get behind. But, of course, it makes the game far too easy. Verruckt to me is still the most underrated map of all time, and I do love it, but not this experience. I'm sure it would have been better with friends, but all my friends have Xbox consoles, so what was I to do? Play it solo? God no, I was petrified. For some reason the original group of four characters appear. As in, Dempsey, Takeo, Nikolai and Richtofen, and I don't really understand why. The original four weren't on this map originally, and I presume it's just a way of shoehorning the first two maps into the game as this map didn't really have anything to do with the actual storyline.
Smaller touches within the game are missing and that is what drags this down as one of the more mediocre parts of the DLC. There was no hand on the power switch to link in this map with Shi No Numa for instance. There was a lack of jingles when using perk machines, or at least I didn't hear any if there were. These small touches make or break a map, and, even though the map is more fleshed out and a lot brighter, is a lot worse than the original.
Rounds survived: 17
I really don't have too much to say about Ascension, mainly because, again, I played it on multiplayer. On top of that, it was one of the few maps that the developers didn't really change whatsoever. I've had no prior experience with this map other than watching one or two gameplay videos and of course playing it at a friends house. Other than that, I've literally had no experience with this map. I always knew about the colour scheme change though, on the original map it was truly black and white. On this remake for the next generation, you can still see most colours even without the power on. The only real reason to turn the power on is to be able to kill some weird monkey things, which are more annoying than anything else.
As a bonus, this was the first map I played to feature the Pack-a-Punch machine. I didn't play them in a weird order, the game changed the order the maps were in as I'd began to play. I've honestly got no clue why it did this and I don't want to bother finding out because I'll get distracted. Anyways, I used the Pack-A-Punch machine with the Gobblegum, and, of course, it was made way too easy. My common complaint for every map so far is that the new weapons are making things too easy. Even the hardest map in the game so far (Nacht Der Untoten) was extremely easy considering I could just whip up four new weapons and all the perks a man could desire.
Of course, because it was multiplayer, everyone kept leaving at all times. Eventually it was just me and some other guy who hadn't spoken a word the entire game. He kept running backwards and forwards using the launcher pad to get back to the centre and I honestly have no clue why he was doing this. I ended up dying and then the mute player died too. It was fun while it lasted I suppose. The map itself is huge and I genuinely can't remember where anything is. Mind you, I'm pretty sure this is the first zombies map to include an Easter egg of massive proportions.
Shi No Numa
Shi No Numa, another map that wasn't a favourite of the fans but because of my nostalgic feels towards the map, I liked it. What I liked about the original map was that it introduced so many new weapons and enemies that are now pretty much a staple of the franchise. The Hellhounds are back and they're better than ever. If I'm honest, I died on one round because of those bloody things. Hellhounds seem to have been given a definite overhaul. Although there are less of them, the Hellhounds do a hell of a lot more damage and I really liked that. Hellhounds are not harder to kill, but if two of them approach you at the same time you'll really struggle to survive. Not that it should be a problem, unless you drop your controller on the floor like I did. Actually, as a whole this map seems a hell of a lot more difficult. Some zombies were actually running by round three and I have no idea if this is new or not, I don't remember zombies running on round three.
Now originally when this map came out I wasn't scared of it. I was ten years old and I was a big boy back then, no zombies are going to scare me. Well, at the age of 17, playing this map instilled more fear in me than I ever thought possible. Mainly because zombies simply jumped out of anywhere and slapped me a few times and I didn't have enough time to realise what was going on. This may have also been because of the attention to detail within this map. Every map so far has had an improvement graphically, more specifically in relation to the detail on display. This map is no exception to that rule and it looks simply fantastic. Not only has there been a graphical overhaul, but also a sound overhaul too. I'm convinced the developers brought the voice actors back in to either re-record lines or create some new ones. I was hearing dialogue I had never heard before, or it's been that long since I played this map I just can't remember what dialogue features in this map.
As much as I've berated the use of new weapons on old maps, I feel it works rather well here. Some newer weapons are really just re-skins of older World at War weapons and I really appreciated this. What I appreciated even more is that the Easter eggs within the map are still just as fun to find. Seeing the Element 115 rock and finding the radios was just as fun as the last time I played this map. Speaking of which, this is the most difficult map in the DLC. If Nacht Der Untoten is too easy for you then this will most certainly make up for it.
Rounds survived: 7/9
Kino Der Toten
I'm not one to pick favourites, but this was one of my least favourite maps. In fact, before I finished writing up this section of the review, I went to play the original version of this map to confirm I still didn't like it. I was correct, of course I didn't like this map. Yet, here we are. Possibly the biggest reason for my dislike of this map is because of those bloody crawler things you can see above. The crawlers simply didn't scare me, it's just the fact that these crawlers were a huge change and annoyed me to such a surprising extent.. The guys over on the original team for this map experimented with a new enemy type and, for me, it didn't pay off. They were basically small zombies that would explode once dead and you'd have to move around the smoke it leaves or you'd die.
Of course, graphically, once again we have some major enhancements. Most prominently is the teleporter, which, if I'm honest, looks so much cooler. As a matter of fact, everything looks a hell of a lot brighter and nicer. And of course there are one or two weapons that feature in both the original map and this one. This time we have the M16, which is actually quite a good choice if I'm honest. I didn't have the chance to use it though, the one time I did get it I died straight after, bloody zombies. Much like the weapons, the Perk-a-Cola machine is present once more, presumably to either add less challenge to the map or to make sure there is enough space for the amount of bloody perks available now.
What surprised me the most is that there has been some definite expansions to the map. The streamlined area that leads from the theatre to the starting area has definitely been made bigger, with a few more areas open to explore. On top of that, stairs now cover up less of an area in the first room to the left, uncovering all sorts of hidden secrets, such as stairs. Uncovering secrets and Easter eggs isn't as fun on this map, mainly because some of them have been removed. Remember how you could look at the wall and there would be a number there to tell you when the Hellhounds were coming? Not anymore, the developers removed that. Such a shame.
Rounds survived: 1/6/8
Here's an interesting one, a map I simply never played. By this point, my love for zombies had just about fizzled up, and because of this I just didn't bother buying the DLC anymore. This is one example of that. Honestly loading this map up, I didn't know what to expect. All I knew about it was that at the end of the Easter Egg you received all the perks for free, but it's a pain in the arse to do it. Of course, like usual, I was blown away with the graphical fixtures of the game. It was simply breathtaking, I do love forest renderings, and I know that sounds weird, but it's really the only way to explain it. Something I did find odd though was the shadowing. Some places were far too bright and others were far too dark. I was having a constant battle with the brightness sliders.
Who's idea was it to have tiny monkeys run around and attack me? No, seriously, I want to know who's idea this was so I can tell them what a terrible idea it truly was. Apparently firing grenades at the cocky little things isn't enough to kill them, it's to the point where I am convinced these monkeys are invincible. The same goes for Ascension actually, they're such tiny enemies, but at least the monkeys come in droves on the latter map, not just one at a time like this one. I may have sat begrudgingly through Kino Der Toten, but at least it didn't get to the point of me simply not enjoying myself. Not just because it was starting to get old and confusing, but because it differs from the norm of zombie gameplay. That's a good thing, right? Well, as far as I know, there's nowhere you can really camp. You can't create a long term strategy with this map and I'm pretty sure that's because the developers want you to focus on going for the Easter egg.
I did like the look of the zombies in this map though. It's a unique look that we haven't seen in any other map up to this point. However the look of a character model isn't enough to reel me into a map and this was one of the very few maps that failed to impress me in any way, shape or form.
Rounds survived: 4/9
Now we're over the hump, we're getting back into the good stuff. Once again there was a unique look to the zombies that I genuinely loved, almost as much as the original design for the zombies. Labcoats and astronauts is a surprisingly effective look for a map set in space. My initial thoughts on the map were of shock. I spawned in a tiny area with no weapon other than a pistol, which is like trying to feed a vegan a bacon sandwich in a rave pit. Regardless to say, I was a bit fearful, and then I was in space. That was it. Slap on a spacesuit before you die, hurry up, this is the most fast paced action I have ever witnessed and it was phenomenal. Then I noticed a spaceman following me. Because his name was in red, I knew he was evil. At first I didn't realise you could shoot him. I made a hell of a lot of revelations on this map and it blew me away how much fun I was having.
It's a bit like Mob of the Dead but instead of George A. Romero following you it's just a dead spaceman bloke. This means that there was nowhere to camp, you always have to be on the move. To be fair, this isn't too bad considering the map is circular, and there are certain areas where the low gravity can give you an advantage. Yes, low gravity was a lot of fun, but it wasn't utilised fully. Still, I can't berate it for being hellishly fun. The map itself was even fun, there is lots to do and lots to see. It was quite cool to see the Earth in such high quality, now instead of Googling it I can just boot up Call of Duty and see it from the perspective of a drunken Russian in a space suit.
The attention to detail for me was the best part about everything for me. Of course, space doesn't have any sounds, right? Right? Science check that or something. Anyways, when you're outside (or inside) you can barely hear the shots of the gun. I thought this was an amazing attention to detail. The death of zombies and low gravity was a lovely combination, the zombies would just sort of, float away when they died and I found this very satisfying. In total, it was just a very fun map to play that tried some new things.
Rounds survived: 11
This map is the one that kickstarts the whole plot line for the new batch of zombies maps which I have yet to play. For the first (and only) time, a zombies map opens with an incredibly detailed cutscene. It shows off the games, Origins. Yes, yep, I'm going with that pun and I don't care what the editor says that is remaining. My notes are telling me to plug the pun, therefore I shall. The opening cutscene shows us the ground works for the characters. This map actually jumps back in time a bit, and by a bit I mean roughly thirty years, all the way back to World War One. The story for zombies falls apart a bit to me, because after all the things these four characters have done, I simply cannot believe the original four characters would all be fighting in exactly the same area at exactly the same time. Still, this adds nothing to the game itself and I've no clue why I'm going on about it.
The attention to detail within this map is phenomenal. From the aeroplanes flying around in the sky to the detail of the mud in the trenches. Everything was authentic to the time of World War 1. Apart from that giant robot in the sky. Be careful of that, because it will stand on you and kill you. I learnt that the hard way. This did all add together to create a very unique experience. It's the most gory zombies map I have in recent memory, and I've just trudged my way through eight maps worth of zombies. I loved it. This was quite a satisfying map to play in multiplayer surprisingly, but that's probably because I was playing with some interesting people.
Apparently this is the first map to have a full cutscene ending. It's more of a really difficult mission than a survival game anymore, and that gradual shift is why I stopped playing zombies. The large space to run around in is great fun, but of course it suffers from not being able to stay in one place for too long. The map itself is almost like a giant one way system, but it was brilliant fun.
Rounds survived: 4/7
The game has got its groove back. For me personally it has anyway. I've not had so much fun for a very long while. Of course, a few bad apples stop this from being the perfect DLC, and the price may put some people off, especially when you can just buy the original games and DLC cheaper than this. Still, for those wanting a next gen experience of some of their favourites, this is a perfect purchase to make. Fresh changes and brilliant maps make all the difference with this game. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Call of Duty has done something well, and it's done it extremely well. It's good, solid fun.
|+ Recaptures the fun of the original games||– Some maps made a poor transition|
|+ Managed to cling on to my nostalgia for some maps||– Smaller bugs made an overall poor feel to some of the maps|
|+ Extremely fun by yourself, sometimes with people online|
|+ Changes within maps are especially fun to see|