- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2015

A famed first-person shooter franchise expands upon its latest game with the downloadable content pack Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Havoc (Activision, reviewed with Xbox One, Rated Mature, $14.99; or as part of a 4-pack Season Pass released over the year for $49.99).

The collection — comprised of a quartet of multiplayer maps and a frantic, four-player, co-operative adventure — won’t disappoint those enamored with the full “Advanced Warfare” release from late 2014.

First, let’s get the rotting elephant out of the room and explore the best part of the content, a new ode to the undead called Exo Zombies.

“Call of Duty” fans are already trained to expect and sink their teeth into battles against flesh-eaters going back to initial encounters with Nazi zombies in 2008.

Much like its more recent predecessors (specifically, “Call of the Dead” and “Mob of the Dead”), Exo Zombies’ first chapter, Outbreak, stars the voices and computer-generated reproductions of four pop-culture stars tasked with working together to survive against waves of voracious monsters.

In the vague story, four average employees of the Atlas Corp. are left behind at one of its research facilities after a failed experiment unleashes mutants.

A quartet of players then take control of either Oz — John Malkovich from “In the Line of Fire” and “RED”; Kahn — Bill Paxton from “Aliens”; Lilith — Rose McGowan from “Grindhouse: Planet Terror” and “Machete”; and Decker — Jon Bernthal from “The Walking Dead.”

Within a facility that is much freer to roam, players rely less on finding ways to block zombies from attacking and more on aggressively finding powerful tools and weapons to stop them including, most importantly, quickly securing a high-tech exo suit to enable extended powers.

The good news is that the suits offer some protection, quick escapes from high-jumping abilities, the ability to occasionally slam the ground to destroy surrounding mutants and deliver punishing punches. The bad news is that eventually some of grotesque bad guys also wear the suits.

It was quite astounding to watch a flesh-eater get its legs blown off and still use the exo-suits jetpack to fly at me like an out-of-control bottle rocket.

While on the topic, let’s discuss this latest breed of zombies.

Besides, waves of eye-glowing, moaning maniacs, we get infected security dogs (just like the Nazi’s hellhounds), exploding zombies and ones that spit out electricity to temporarily shut down a character’s exo suit.

Oh yeah, some also spew a green cloud that will infect the characters. They must now run to a decontamination area and pay credits to restore health. Or pay the ultimate price — actually turn into a zombie and start attacking other team members. That’s a very cool idea.

Under firepower for our survivors, Outbreak features DNA bombs to wipe out the current batch of creeps, laser traps to slice them to chunks, orbital-care packages (containing everything from credits to buy weapons, automatic laser turrets, a cloaking device and attack drones) and three-dimensional printers.

The printers replace the bizarre Mystery Boxes (containers that randomly spawn weapons, for a price, in other zombie games). Intermittent power problems will short circuit them, but when they are operational, they also randomly construct cool guns such as the new CEL-3 Cauterizer (a triple-barreled, energy shotgun).

Now, a word of warning, after surviving about a dozen rounds of mayhem, it becomes near-impossible to exist without that exo suit as more zombies swarm wearing the gear. If you die, you respawn in the next round without an exo suit. For the love of Zadzooks, go find an exo suit.

And if you thought the infected were fast in “28 Days Later” or “World War Z,” you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet brother until diving into Exo Zombies.

Also, although, the celebrity theme is always a good idea, I most enjoyed the ramblings of Mr. Malkovich’s acerbic, sometimes profane tongue. Playing a conspiracy nut janitor, always cursing a hopeless situation, his odd delivery of lines such as ” I like to shower with my clothes on” offer a bit of comic relief.

Finally, here’s a bite-sized roundup of the four new multiplayer maps that allow gamers to team up and virtually exterminate each other in “Call of Duty’s” famed death matches.

• Sideshow — With Wyoming’s legendary Devil’s Tower looming in the background, players roam around an expansive abandoned town and inn geared toward clownish carney folk. The open layout, with lots of rooftops, gives intelligent snipers a strategic advantage. A special score streak activates a massive clown marquee in the center of the town, and it will start spewing out exploding cannonballs on those standing too close.

• Drift — Players battle in a festive ski resort, high in the very Rocky Mountains amidst a winter wonderland complete with Christmas music eerily playing in the background. Lots of close quarters combat ensues amidst the snow surfaces. However, watch out for the occasional avalanche, a map-altering event meant to disorient warriors. Also, avoid trying to use the classic, rotating carousal for any strategic advantage. It is a death trap.

• Core — Players spawn in the Gobi desert and firefight among the ravaged ruins of a nuclear fusion plant. Look for tunnels to explore and set traps in while mixing in the occasional use of a decontamination drone to attack opponents. I loved the swirling sand effects and kicking the grains up while running for cover within the turbine wreckage.

• Urban — Fighting in and around the outdoor mall Century Station within the Texas Ward 3, players find a close-quarters, high-speed free-for-all. The exo suit helps considerably when being surrounded. And don’t forget to hide out in the Tasty Pump, a fast-food barbeque joint, for a quick kill and slab of ribs.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide