Call of Duty: Ghosts
Another year, another Call of Duty title. It can be hard maintaining an annual release of a game and deliver a quality product time after time, especially as the product’s key demographic expects a certain amount of familiarity whilst they scream for innovation in that same product.
CoD’s developer, Infinity Ward, has been struggling creatively since series’ creators Vince Zampella and Jason West left the company (along with a number of staff) over a number of disputes with Call of Duty‘s publisher, Activision. Whilst Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 sold well, fans and critics both agreed that the game was nowhere near as enjoyable as previous entries in the series.
‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’ moves away from the Modern Warfare games in a big way. The campaign is completely over the top, the multiplayer is a huge step backward yet somehow the new game mode, ‘Extinction’, is surprisingly fun. Overall though, Ghosts is a disappointing game that I hope does not set a new standard for the series.
The single-player campaign in Ghosts features an absolutely ridiculously hard-to-swallow story. It opens with Elias, an ex-soldier telling his two sons, Logan and Hesh, the legend of the “Ghosts” and how they first appeared in battle. Meanwhile, space terrorists hijack the Orbital Defense Initiative (ODIN) and use it to attack Earth’s major cities. The United States is hit by an ODIN strike, with Logan and Hesh narrowly escaping the massive destruction of the city.
Thirty seconds into the game, I had already felt insulted by it. Playing as an astronaut and floating around in zero-gravity, shooting terrorists may have been almost believable in a James Bond game, but this was ridiculous. If that wasn’t bad enough, the two brothers back on Earth decide to search for their father while the complete destruction of their city is taking place. They are literally running around jumping over cliffs and chasms (that used to be city streets) and dodging airborne exploding petrol tankers. And that was just the tutorial.
I wouldn’t have felt as insulted as I was if the game had some degree of self-parody to it. If the characters and story were poking fun at themselves throughout the campaign then maybe it would have felt less tiresome. Unfortunately, the game has been marketed as having an “amazing story” written by Stephen Gaghan, who wrote the Oscar-winning film Traffic. I do know several Call of Duty fans that while admitting it felt goofy, enjoyed the story. I myself didn’t hate the story, I just didn’t feel anything compelling me to finish it.
“Who cares? Call of Duty is all about multiplayer!” and right you are, Call of Duty fanboy! While the multiplayer is much better than the single-player campaign, it feels like a step backwards from the entertaining online-multiplayer in Modern Warfare 3. The new sliding mechanic is somehow even more useless than the dolphin-dive mechanic in Black Ops, but will probably appeal to people who think fully spinning around in the air before they shoot someone is cool (360 shooting).
While the guns and unlock system in Ghosts are decent, the maps feel completely bland compared to iconic maps from previous Call of Duty games, such as Modern Warfare‘s ‘Bog’ and Modern Warfare 2‘s ‘Highrise’. If Infinity Ward are smart, they will borrow a page from DICE’s book and release all of their previous maps as DLC for Ghosts. This way, they can offer long-time fans the opportunity to play all their favourite maps on the recently-released Xbox One and PlayStation 4, as well as insert the new dynamic map events into the maps.
Lastly, we have the new Extinction mode, which is Infinity Ward’s answer to Treyarch’s (CoD‘s other developer) brilliant Zombies mode. Players assume the role of a special task force assigned with eliminating alien nests from an undisclosed city and its surrounding area. Players have in-game and overall experience levels. Killing aliens and drilling nests awards points that can be spent on various perks, from better weapon handling and special ammunition to support from mortar weapons and more.
The overall experience levels affect your starting loadout. Do you play as a soldier, who is capable of fast reloads and quicker movement? Or do you choose to play as a medic who can revive teammates quicker? Whatever your play-style, there is an option for you. A team of four players each playing a different role will be far more likely to have a successful outcome in Extincion, if they can co-operate.
- Decent multiplayer, despite being a step backward for the series
- Extinction is a fun and fast-paced answer to Zombies.
- Bland multiplayer maps with not even a single memorable one present.
- Ridiculous story. Literally feels like five bad games mashed into one.
- No replay value.
While Call of Duty: Ghosts is no way the best game in the series, long-time fans may find something to enjoy in it. Infinity Ward are going to have to create some stellar DLC to stave off their fans jumping ship to West and Zampella’s new game, Titanfall. As someone who has owned every single CoD since Call of Duty 2, it pains me to write a less-than-favourable review of a CoD game, but I’m optimistic that the DLC for Ghosts will be decent, particularly if Infinity Ward expand upon Extinction and add some classic maps. Time will tell if Treyarch remain the stronger CoD developer, or if Infinity Ward can snatch that crown back…
Score – 5.5/10