I’ve been a fan of Treyarch’s Zombies modes ever since “Nacht der Untoten” graced Call of Duty: World at War. I’ve been dying to revisit the classic maps, but with my PS3 long out to pasture, I haven’t had the chance. Now, thanks to Zombies Chronicles, I can play the classics again in stunning new detail.
Zombies Chronicles, which released for PlayStation 4 on May 16 and will likely release on Xbox and PC next month, is DLC for Black Ops III that delivers eight remastered maps from Treyarch’s previous Call of Duty games, and fans of old and new Zombies will want to play. Zombies is a four-player cooperative mode with endless waves of undead enemies. Killing zombies earns points to spend on better guns, special perks, and traps to help you defeat the hordes. You can try your skills solo or with teammates as you search the map for a strategy to survive to later and later rounds.
For Zombies Chronicles, Treyarch has remastered not only the graphics with greater details and textures, but added lighting and audio improvements to add an even more haunting ambiance than the original maps provided.
Fan favorite map “Kino der Toten,” from the first Black Ops, is an impressively remastered stage set in a theater. The swastikas in the original map have been removed and replaced with golden statues and decorative panels that nearly pop off the wall in their vibrancy. The fire on the map also looks much more realistic than the original’s. The entire map looks and feels so alive with more realism, and the remastered audio makes the rumbles sound more daunting as the map randomly shakes.
“Ascension” is an industrial-themed map also from Black Ops that originally caught a lot of criticism for its bland, grey color palette. Treyarch really improved the entire mood of the map simply by adding highlights of color to the walls of the buildings and several colorful lighting effects. The new coat of paint for Zombies Chronicles really brings the dreary Ascension to life.
Every sound in the game feels completely new. Once the midnight release hit, I jumped into a late night session on Nacht der Untoten in a quiet house with the lights out. The random screeches and eerie sounds coming through my headset were more terrifying than the hordes of moaning zombies.
The maps have all been modernized with optional Black Ops III’s features. Each map now features consumable perks to help aid you in your survival. Gobblegum usually offers temporary, one-time use perks such as teleporting to a safe location on the map or getting a free gun purchase. And the Perk-a-Colas last until the zombies take you down. This does certainly change how you’ll play the maps from the original versions, but personally, I’ll take the help of the temporary Gobblegum perks because maps like “Verruckt” can be so unforgiving with their tight corridors and small rooms. Once the zombies flood into a room, you’re usually trapped and have to make a daring last stand.
While the maps are the same, the guns on offer have also been switched around. Fans of the iconic duo of “Mustang” and “Sally” from the original game might be a bit miffed that they’ve been replaced with Black Ops III’s versions, “Death” and “Taxes.” However, the updated guns don’t fundamentally change how the game plays. The very first Zombies map sported a ray gun, so this was never exactly about historical accuracy. The Pack-a-Punch machine that you use to upgrade your guns itself has also received a Black Ops III upgrade. It now contains the ability to upgrade a gun a second time for a cool elemental effect, like electric or fire-type ammo.
While some might scoff at the DLC’s $30 price and the fact that it’s not included in Black Ops III’s Season Pass, it’s a substantial piece of content for your dollar. Treyarch has taken great care to make stunning remastered maps for old fans and new; allowing younger generation of players or those just late to the party to experience the Zombies saga from the very beginning.