Storming The Castle
While the king of console FPSes in 2013 is probably Call of Duty, this wasn’t always the case. Back in the day, GoldenEye 007 was the monarch in the land. But that seems like a lifetime ago, and recent memory tells us that Halo was the royal FPS for nearly a decade. Its release helped carry the Xbox console, the sequel helped Xbox LIVE soar to unprecedented heights, and Halo 3 brought the concept to the 360 while closing down the revered trilogy.
With the dawn of a new Halo trilogy, the FPS crown has arguably been passed on to other franchises, but there are still loyal fans who will swear that Halo 4 is the true king of the console FPSes. Its final map DLC, the Castle Map Pack, has been released, and that brings us to the end of Halo 4’s Season Pass DLC.
Okay, that’s probably enough of the king/castle wordplay. Let’s get down to brass tax: is it fight for a king or one only worthy of a jester?
I promise that’s the last one.
The content may have only been released this week, but I got a head start back at PAX East. Amongst the crowd of unreleased games and anticipated titles, this map pack was the thing I spent the most time with. In all honesty, it had been a while since Halo 4 and I had had a date night, but the Castle Map Pack is the most fun I’ve had with Halo in quite some time, giving me brief flashbacks to some of the glory maps of both Halo 2 and Halo 3. That’s not to say that there aren’t any issues, because the DLC has its fair share, but this a DLC pack well worth your time and money.
Castle brings three new maps into the Halo 4 multiplayer equation. The first is “Perdition,” a somewhat large urban map featuring a few vehicles, close-quarters combat, and plenty of sightlines. Is it a wide open space? No, but there are plenty of corridors and paths to take out people who throw up a scope while they’re dancing around enemies five feet in front of them. This is something that I absolutely love about the map, bringing me brief flashbacks of Halo 3’s The Pit, which I absolute adore. The layout may be different, but the general theme remains the same: Regardless of where you are, you’re not safe.
The biggest issue with Perdition is its color scheme. I hope you’re a fan of the concrete jungle, because there’s a lot of gray here—gray on the walls, gray on the streets, gray in the sky. It doesn’t necessarily detract from the experience, but when a map like The Pit is able to add color to its palette, it’s a shame Perdition couldn’t do the same. Thankfully, there’s enough action going on that you’re not spending all your time just staring at the environment.
The second map also brings flashbacks, but to the very recent past of Halo 4. “Outcast” feels a lot like, I don’t know, a bit of Exile, a little bit of Vortex, and even a little bit of Solace. But it doesn’t necessarily combine everything I love about those maps. One thing that it does well is that it creates the feeling of a large map, but you never necessarily feel like you’re more than five seconds away from the battle. It’s a good balance.
Just like Perdition, Outcast suffers from a color problem. Don’t worry, it isn’t gray, and if you’re a fan of 90s shooters, you’ll be right at home with the brown desert. But where it didn’t harm Perdition, it hurts Outcast. The map isn’t too big, as I’ve already mentioned, but it’s big enough to where you’ll spend time seeing nothing but brown dust.
This brings us to our final map. Can it break the mold of the single-color palette? Can it deliver an exceptional experience? Will it leave a lasting impression? Yes, yes, and yes. “Daybreak” is an absolutely exceptional map, combining the traditional Halo formula of “two bases in an asymmetrical map” with a more intimate feeling than something like Blood Gulch or Valhalla. Some have compared it to Standoff, but I don’t necessarily see it. Sure, they’re similar in size, but Standoff was filled with wide open spaces; Daybreak reminds me more of Longbow.
Halo 4’s Castle Map Pack is a fitting end to the map DLC for Halo 4. It grabbed my attention at PAX East, it’s rekindled my Halo addiction, and it’s definitely worth your time and money. It’s only 800 Microsoft Points if you don’t have the Season Pass, so that’s not really an excuse to miss out on it. Thank you, Certain Affinity, for bringing me back to Halo 4.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Two of the maps are incredibly heavy on one color. 5.0 Control
It’s Halo 4. I dare you to show me a console FPS that controls better. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Each map sounds exactly like it should. 5.0 Play Value
It’s time to get reacquainted with Halo 4. A fitting way to end the game’s DLC. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best