“Zombies Chronicles” is pretty, but not much else

Courtesy of Activision

“Call of Duty” is the most ubiquitous video gaming franchise for relatively good reason. While incredibly repetitive, each new installment since “Call of Duty 3” has featured fine-tuned controls and rewarding online upgrade systems that make for a dependable (if often mindless) experience. And with the addition of the wave-based Zombies mode first introduced in “World at War,” players tired of the multiplayer component have found pleasure in mowing down the undead against a zany time-traveling narrative. Eight of the playable maps, dating from “World at War” to “Black Ops II,” were remastered for one final installment of downloadable content on 2015’s “Black Ops III.”

It’s interesting, really, seeing DLC for the previous game in the “Call of Duty” series, while the most recent game is out and the upcoming installment is being heavily promoted; it’s as clear a sign as ever that the franchise is a money-making monster that wants to milk every ounce of content the folks in the development cycle (Treyarch, Sledgehammer, Infinity Ward) put out. Despite its redundancy, it nonetheless stands as the most content-rich DLC released for “Black Ops III.”

I was in middle school when I first played Zombies (or Nazi Zombies as it was previously known) and it’s simplicity was astoundingly perfect for its time. Wave-based action is a safe game mode, but the peculiar nature of the minigame — being trapped in a bunker fighting the undead Third Reich with the aid of a magic weapon-spawning box and otherworldly power ups — was well-executed. Suffice to say, Nacht der Untoten is just about the same as always. Matter of fact, just about every map is nearly identical to its previous-generation predecessor: Nacht is still Nacht, Ascension is still Ascension and all the easter eggs return just as they were before. Playing each map on “Black Ops III” feels identical to playing them on previous installments, discounting the updated mechanics (sliding, movement speed, GobbleGum, etc.), which only further solidifies the DLC as a collection of updated material from times past.

Graphically, every map looks solid too (as expected), despite “Black Ops III’s” dated graphical fidelity. Like many remasters, this latest DLC is not much more than a glossy makeover for the series’ best maps, which, depending on your enjoyment of the Zombies series, could potentially  be worth checking out. For $30, this isn’t too uncommon in the video game industry, but it still doesn’t deny the simplest of facts: If you already have the maps, this simply isn’t worth the price — get yourself a full game instead. But for those who’ve no Xbox 360s or PS3s to play classic maps on, that’s a tougher call.

Verdict: “Zombies Chronicles” comes out at a weird time, but serves its target demographic well. The graphical updates, while much appreciated, simply don’t add enough to the 2015 game to warrant shelling out half the price of a full retail game.

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