Schooled by the interplay between Battlefield 3's Close Quarters and Armored Kill DLC, my first thought on hearing about Halo 4's Castle map pack was that it would be an exercise in raw vehicular overkill, designed to counterbalance the on-foot jollies of the Crimson and Majestic packs. Turns out it is and it isn't. Oh, there are more Warthogs and Banshees on offer than in the average Halo 4 map, but if you're thinking of rampaging around like an elephant in a kindergarten, think again.
Perhaps the most visually intense of the maps is Outcast, a dense sandy warren that plays host to a Wraith tank and Mantis mech - champions of their respective orders, waiting to be pitched against one another. However, the map's dense architecture ensures that reckless types generally fall prey to infantry bursting from tunnel mouths to throw sticky grenades at their blindsides, or dropping from ledges to hoist them from their cockpits.
What's more, the bases at either end of the map are home to Spartan laser drops and Gatling turrets, so you might want to exercise a little caution when chasing the other side back to their spawning grounds. All told, it's definitely a map that welcomes careful drivers.
It's also the map that leans most obviously on motorised warfare - the other two, urbanite's choice Perdition and country bumpkin's favourite Daybreak, are perfectly comfortable as infantry-only affairs, offering a familiar balance between wide open spaces and close confines. Outcast is the superior of the pair, thanks to some cunning tiered geography - you might start the match sniping at one base from the roof of the other, perhaps gravitating to the central bridge (via mancannon) to avail yourself of its heavy weapon drop.
Or you could plunge to ground level in search of noobs to pound with your rifle butt, then seize the reins of a Warthog and cavort round the map perimeter to assault the enemy's rear. Or you could amuse yourself by ambushing people in the tunnels. Or you could don a jetpack, take to the air with the greatest of ease and die hideously in a puff of Needler bolts. Guess which tactic I employ most often.
All three maps benefit from some lovely cosmetic elements, such as the UNSC cruiser that looms over Daybreak, or the transport ships that periodically soar past Outcast's fringe. Perdition's home to a monorail, cheerfully going about its business while players expire in droves care of some murderously long sightlines. Those who like their terrain even and compartmentalised will enjoy this one, providing you get into the habit of avoiding outside areas when one or more Warthogs are in play.
Castle is another opportunity to celebrate how well Halo does vehicles without ruining things for pedestrians, then. I can't help but wish that at least one of the maps was a proper vehicle-on-vehicle affair, with enough room to allow sustained bouts of Warthog jousting, but that's less a criticism of what's here as a suggestion for future DLC packs. Let's hope this isn't the last of them.
Download the Castle Map Pack here for 800 MP.
Still the king of it