Genre First-Person Shooter / Platforms PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
Developer Infinity Ward / Publisher Activision
Platform Played On PS4
“Another year, another Call of Duty.” That’s what I usually think to myself every year when the latest title in the mega-popular first person shooter franchise releases. However, I tend to expect more from Black Ops developer Treyarch than I do the series creator, Infinity Ward. Whilst that may come off as rather unfair given the usual high standards of Call of Duty games, 2011’s Modern Warfare 3 felt somewhat conservative for me.
But this year’s installment is different.
Call of Duty Ghosts feels so much fresher than past games in the series. However, it only feels fresh for Infinity Ward as Ghosts still falls short compared to the Treyarch series which since 2010, has introduced fleshed out characters with voice actors for the protagonists, intense stories and much more gameplay variety. Call of Duty Ghosts treads lightly on new ground for Infinity Ward. Whilst there are some improvements made to Infinity Ward’s side of the series which are enough to refresh the series, it does take a few steps backwards.
What you’ll notice about Call of Duty Ghosts right off the bat is that this is a departure from the grounded military action games we’re used to from this developer. Instead, Infinity Ward has opted to place the setting in an unspecified modern setting where a South American federation is waging an all-out war against a losing United States of America. And instead of taking on the role of various soldiers from varying nations, you’ll mainly play as one of two brothers aside from one or two instances that say otherwise. What’s interesting about this take on the two brothers is exactly that, they’re brothers fighting in a war together. In a situation where your life is in the hands of another like this, it’s common for bonds to be forged but this is where the first problem for Ghosts arises. The two characters might as well be squad-mates who have just met each other as your character speaks not a single word throughout this entire campaign to his brother who almost never leaves his side.
With last year’s Black Ops II’s playable characters all being voiced as you play as them, it just bugs me that Infinity Ward still won’t voice a playable character even though a character you were playing as in Modern Warfare three was voiced. It’s one of the few steps backwards that holds Ghosts from being really great.
Overall, Ghosts suffers from a flawed campaign. Though it quite frankly is a blast to play through with Infinity Ward upping the ante on the explosive set pieces which make the game’s single-player so damn good at times and it has some of the most memorable missions the series has ever had, the story is rather hit and miss. The game’s namesake is a reference to the legend of the Ghosts, highly trained and experienced soldiers featured in the story. Whilst it sounds cool on paper, it feels a bit too macho in practice. Even for Call of Duty. The game’s antagonist, a former Ghost named Rorke, feels a bit too cartoon-ish when he’s not downright forgettable.
The story is largely told via cutscenes which will be fed to you via loading screen. These are skippable once the game is done loading but they don’t do much to keep you from skipping the cutscene. You could quite happily play through the campaign with little to no knowledge of what the story is. It’s just a good thing that actually playing the campaign itself is so fun.
The game’s setting allows for Infinity Ward to get a bit more creative with the game’s fiction. With a non-specific setting you’ll fight in the air, on land, in the sea and in space. Yes that’s right, I said space. It’s a fun gameplay dynamic to battle in a 3D environment such as underwater and space despite the obvious limitations that prevent you from going too far away from the level. Though it’s still a modern setting, it feels new and different. A fictional universe set in a fictional universe might just be what Infinity Ward needs to bring different things to its franchise which gets a bit samey the more games they make.
Gunplay feels as refined as ever in Call of Duty Ghosts with new gameplay mechanics such as the ability to slide and lean around corners. Whilst the slide mechanic is a bit hard to pull off at times due to players being required to hold down the circle or B buttons, you still feel great when sliding and shooting multiple enemies all at the same time. Call of Duty laid down the ground rules for most shooters back in 2007 and even though there are arguably better shooters out there, it’s hard to levy a complaint about how Call of Duty actually feels when you’re playing it.
By now, you’ll have no doubt seen Riley, the Call of Duty dog. Riley is a dog belonging to our protagonist and his brother who have taken the loyal mutt into the armed forces with them. At one point, you’ll get to play as Riley which sets the stage for an interesting stealth section but ultimately feels a little flat since controlling Riley feels a little bit ropey which led to me failing the mission several times. Riley also seemed like a much bigger feature of the game when it was first unveiled in May this year so it seems a bit strange that he’s so underused in Ghosts.
Call of Duty Ghosts once again returns with the game’s signature multiplayer. You’ll either love it or hate it depending on how quick your reflexes are but it’s back for another year and Infinity Ward has brought along some changes for the ride.
Players will now be able to create and customise up to 10 soldiers in the create-a-solider option the game has to offer. Players will be given a base model which allows them to give each solider up to 6 load-outs of varying degree when it comes to guns and customisations. Unlike single-player, multiplayer has a much broader scope of weapons available for the player to unlock. Thirty-nine to be exact.
Create-a-solider is reaches deeply into its customisation which allows you to essentially mold the warrior you want to play as. You can either run around as a machine-gun toting terminator after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heart or if you’re more the Tom Clancy wannabe, you can create a stealthy soldier to glide around the map with. Whilst big time Call of Duty fans are bound to dig in deep with this system, it’s complexity may seem intimidating to new or more casual players.
Infinity Ward knows its audience like the back of its hand now but it’s good to see they’ve still maintained a grip on what their fans want and they know how to cater to them. There’s opportunity to really get creative with your customised soldier but if you’re a newcomer you may wish to take it easy.
Call of Duty Ghosts now offers some bigger maps in this year’s installment. The bigger maps make sense in quite a few ways this time around. Playing in a bigger field may encourage you to explore your weapon types a bit. You’re not going to want to run around a big map with a shotgun for the entire duration now are you? It also caters to those who enjoy playing with friends in Team Deathmatch which means your team can roam around to secure objectives in a more organised fashion. It’s a bit less frantic than some Call of Duty games have been in the past which is a welcome edition. However, if you wish to lone wolf multiplayer at times, you can often find yourself just wandering the maps for longer than you might feel comfortable which takes you out of the action a bit.
Call of Duty Ghosts now brings something completely new to the series, and that’s Extinction mode. Now whilst you may think it looks more like Treyarch’s Zombie mode which was first introduced in 2008, you’d be slightly mislead. Think more Left 4 Dead and you’re on the right track. It’s simple, instead of slow and shuffling zombies, you’re fighting quick and agile aliens. There’s not much need for a story but your task is to go in with a team of up to four and use a drill to destroy Alien hives.
It’s like Zombies with the progressive difficulty the longer the game goes on but there’s a different way to doing things. Instead of fighting to unlock better weapons, the focus is instead based of defending the drill but in doing so you’ll earn money to purchase better weapons and ammo or you may even choose to erect a turret or some mines. Environmental damage still exists with players being able to turn on electric fences and release booby traps to stem the flow of the oncoming Alien horde.
Extinction is far easier on your if you’re a new player who might be new to the game’s multiplayer but it’s also something you should check out anyway. Extinction works far better than you’d expect and is definitely worth your time.
Call of Duty Ghosts is a Call of Duty game made by Infinity Ward no doubt. Whilst the new setting, new gameplay changes and general refresh taken to the series, it still feels like an Infinity Ward game which is absolutely fine if you know what you’re after. However, a few things likes a totally forgettable antagonist coupled with a weak story and protagonist hold Call of Duty Ghosts back.
Multiplayer works just as well as it ever has and more has been added to justify a purchase for the Call of Duty hardcore for another year but it can at times be intimidating to new players. The addition of Extinction mode is absolutely great as there’s tons of fun to be had there. It’s a fresh challenge for Infinity Ward’s games but it also doesn’t feel like a rip off of Treyarch’s Zombie mode.
+ Fun, exciting single-player
+ Great set pieces
+ Strong multiplayer
+ Extinction mode
– Weak story
– Weak characters
– Sometimes intimidating multiplayer