What better way to mark the last Halo 4 map pack than to go big? The Castle Map Pack does just that by providing big maps filled with a big selection of those oh so sweet vehicles that are not only deadly fun to use, but even more fun to blow the heck up. Whereas the previous DLC, Majestic Map Pack, featured small maps for intense close quarters fighting, Castle marks the return of large maps and epic vehicle battles. If you like your fights big and your vehicles plenty, then this map pack is for you.
Platforms: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: 343 Industries, Certain Affinity
Genre: First (In a New Trilogy) Person Shooter
Release Date: April 8, 2013
ESRB Rating: Mature
Set in a peaceful mountain valley, Daybreak is a large asymmetrical map featuring yet another one of those beautiful skyboxes that have become a signature of the series. You have immediate access to a Warthog and a Mongoose, and can take several side roads and tunnels to reach the enemy base. The many hills and valleys mean you can easily flank distracted or unaware enemies, but they can also contribute to your quick death from patient opponents covering the many dangerous chokepoints. The red base features the map’s only man cannon, which deposits you on a central ridge – but you would be wise to avoid using it unless you absolutely have to, because you are completely exposed to the blue base’s mounted turret upon landing. Ouch.
Tucked off to the side of the map is a potentially game-changing treasure in the form of the single Banshee. A skilled player can provide oppressive air superiority in the Banshee but they are far from safe, thanks to the many great sniping spots and ambitious hijackers hiding in the high rock faces.
Daybreak is a great Slayer map, but is at its best during Capture the Flag. With several routes to each base, lots of cover, and crazy drivers, defending your base can be both challenging and a ton of fun.
Another large, asymmetrical map, Perdition is located in a sprawling underground reactor facility. Well, it’s not really underground; when you have a chance, look up to see that you’re actually at the bottom of a Coruscant-like complex of towering skyscrapers that stretch up into the clouds, all connected by a high-speed monorail. It looks awesome, but it’s a shame most people won’t see it because they’ll be too busy dodging bullets.
The circular design is great for goofing around in high speed Warthog or Ghost racing, but of course the key race will be for the rockets – as in the beloved rocket launcher, and the deadly rocket Warthog. Yes, you can tear up the opposition in the rocket ‘Hog, but the relatively narrow roadways funnel you through several chokepoints, where opponents can be waiting to stick a rocket or plasma grenade up your tailpipe.
Certainly grabbing these explosive power weapons is important, but the open design creates outstanding long-range sightlines, making it perfect for Sniper Slayer and SWAT. However, if you suck at long range combat, it’s best to duck inside the control rooms, where you can engage in more intimate battles.
Outcast is the largest map in the pack, and is the most fun. This symmetrical map is basically a giant circle, with maze-like rock tunnels in the center and along the edges. In between is a Halo fan’s dream car dealership: Warthogs, Ghosts, Mongooses, a Wraith tank, and a Mantis mech are all available right off the bat. If you play Dominion, you get a Scorpion tank. Cue Homer Simpson-like drooling.
With this many vehicles, it might sound like the poor schleps on foot who couldn’t catch a ride would be nothing but cannon fodder, but the many rock formations and tunnels not only provide ample cover, but also protected pathways to flank the slower Wraith or Mantis. This means you need to cover and defend these big boys at all times, because skilled opponents can suddenly surprise them with a grenade, rocket, or even a hijack attempt.
Even with the dense cluster of rock formations in the center of the map, there are great sightlines for snipers and DMR lovers. Although big maps usually require long to medium-range weapons, it’s best to have some close quarters fighters on your team to flush out enemies lurking in the tunnels. Outcast is great for CTF and Dominion, but really shines in Slayer where the vehicular mayhem is cranked to 11. And if you have time, check out the gorgeous skybox of an alien planet rising over a rocky desert landscape, with the occasional cargo ship docking to receive its goods.
Overall, the Castle Map Pack marks the end of Halo 4’s multiplayer DLC with a fitting “go big or go home” attitude – big maps, big vehicle selection, big fun battles. So rev up those engines, it’s time for a classic red versus blue killer road trip.
Review Disclosure: A review copy of Halo 4: Castle Map Pack was provided by Microsoft Studios for the purposes of this review.