If there's one thing that was missing from every previous Call of Duty DLC pack, it was the ability to play as that one guy from the first two seasons of The Walking Dead. Also, John Malkovich, whose performance as himself in Being John Malkovich was the part that he was born to play. Celebrity cameos aside, Havoc adds some of the best maps since the original Black Ops, and a zombies mode that'll challenge even the most aggressive of 12-year-olds.
The return of the dead is easily the most hyped part of this pack. With the main characters played by the aforementioned Malkovich, Rose McGowan of Charmed and Planet Terror fame, The Walking Dead's Jon Bernthal, and Aliens veteran Bill Paxton, it feels almost like it's too good to be added to the game as DLC – especially when you factor in the quality of the four additional maps.
Of course, as with any kind of DLC, this will drive the people who can't buy a packet of Polos without grumbling about missing content absolutely mad, but for those that buy each map pack anyway, prepare yourself for a real humdinger.
For starters, the zombies are more deadly than they've ever been, and while this extra mode doesn't feel as story-driven as some of the previously released packs, it's also tighter and quicker than ever before. Rounds are no longer announced or even really acknowledged, with waves of enemies attacking frequently with shorter periods of rest, and zombies that can infect you or make use of exo-suits to appear out of nowhere.
This adds a real tension to proceedings, especially as decent guns seem harder to come by. Of course, obsessives will have the entire thing down to perfection, but regular players will probably find it quite a bit harder than in recent iterations. Your enemy is aggressive, and you'll need to fight for survival.
The lines from the celebrities are entertaining, but it could have been anyone. The recognisable faces are nice, but they're playing characters, and outside of the opening movie, you'll probably forget who they are. Of course, they're wonderfully modelled – as high quality as Kevin Spacey was in the campaign.
With a load of Easter eggs and story to discover, this is about everything that you'd expect from one of Treyarch's outings.
The four new maps are largely very good, with one exception that will no doubt be hit and miss depending on your playstyle. Sadly, like any Call of Duty map pack, everybody who has bought it has already dismissed at least half of the offerings when voting, meaning that you'll be seeing a lot more of certain areas than others.
Urban is, by itself, a reason to buy Havoc – not only because it's an excellent map, but because it's bound to become the new Nuketown in terms of community obsession. It's quick and deadly, with narrow areas for cover and a frantic, kinetic feel to it. A symmetrical design, it's a great map for team work and tactics, although expect a few more deaths than usual.
Drift is a larger but equally enjoyable outing. Set in a retail outlet at Christmas, there are trees and merry-go-rounds to fight around. Again, it's a great team map, balanced to allow for any style of play.
Sideshow looked like it might be the "wacky" outing for this map pack, but it's a little underwhelming in that department. The clown-focussed motel isn't as full of character as the developer seems to think, and the open spaces give snipers too much leeway. Still, it's a decent map; not a million miles away in design and quality from Drive-In, which was released as DLC for the original Black Ops.
Core is dreadful. It's a return to the yellow and grey "desert" maps that occasionally pop up, and an odd circular design and open pathways reward camping. If you enjoy that style of play, you'll probably appreciate this one, but aside from that, it's utterly forgettable, and the only blight on an otherwise impressive batch of content.
If the quality of the output remains this good, Advanced Warfare may be the first Call of Duty in years to actually deserve the purchase of the Season Pass. It adds some key stuff, including zombies, which will no doubt tempt even the stingiest of DLC shoppers. Whatever you're willing to pay for it, you won't be disappointed when you finally pull the trigger.