Two years ago we finally saw the culmination of the acclaimed Modern Warfare series by Infinity Ward, leading many fans to wonder what the studio’s next step would be and how would it compare to the name that put Call of Duty where it is. Now, they the are back with Call of Duty: Ghosts, a world where weapons of mass destruction are used to reshape the world, leaving only a handful of elite soldiers to find out what happened and stop it from happening again.
Being one of video gaming’s most prevalent annual franchises, Call of Duty has become known for a number of standard features that have maintained between releases, with only a few minor differences depending on the team behind the project. In this respect, Ghosts is no different and generally doesn’t do enough to revitalize a franchise that has become a bit predictable. Depending on your relationship and history with the series, this is pretty much all you would need to know, if were wondering if you should pick it up.
This isn’t to say that Ghosts by any means is a bad game, as it does everything you would expect out of the title, which means an enjoyable experience with countless hours of replay value. The only real issue being that, as it is starting off a whole new chain of events, the game’s story is a balance of explaining the situation and characters, while trying to fit in numerous action sequences, leaving its less than five hour campaign feeling a bit too fragmented and shallow.
The multiplayer portion of Ghosts is by far its best and most well thought out aspect, and should be the reason why you would pick it up. Thankfully, the way Ghosts has handled the ever evolving structure of the Call of Duty online mechanic, has shown that Infinity Ward have been paying attention and are close to a, if not have already, perfected a system that is both balanced and accessible. Besides the addition of more than 30 new weapons, the most interesting part of the Create-A-Soldier feature, is the new Squad Point system. A universal system that allows players to earn points through almost any of the games modes, that will allow unlocks across all segments in the multiplayer portion. This means that no matter what mode you are playing, you will always be progressing and be able to evolve in your own way.
The online maps vary through different settings and also now have the ability to be interacted with, something that differs completely between maps. These work incredibly well with the new modes that are available, such as Search and Rescue, which is like Search and Destroy except each player can be revived if their dog tags are picked up by their own team, or killed off if captured by the enemy. One such instance, was the ability to shut off a whole route to the bomb by either team, as a method to either stop the offense from going around or the defense from defusing it. Other new modes like Cranked, become less focused on level design, as they speed the player up with each kill, but also turn them into a time bomb that can only be reset by hunting down another enemy. Kill Confirmed will also be back, but the new mode Grind uses a similar mechanic of making the person holding the tags bring them back to a flag to have it count.
Of the new modes, Blitz had to be my personal favorite, as it was simple in nature but led up to some of the most memorable moments during my time with Ghosts. The objective is simple, get to your opponents base and stop them from getting to your base. But, once a player touches a base, they shut down and everyone will have to wait for it to come back before capturing it again, leading players to have to hold their ground behind enemy lines. This mode allows for the best usage of the systems knee slide which is flawless, and has quickly become my favorite new movement mechanic. As you are able to slide not only into the checkpoint, but out of corners in preparation for a shot and all of the world’s style points.
One of the biggest additions to get the most attention is the inclusion of a dog in the single player and multiplayer portion of Ghosts, and in both, it does little more than take away from the experience. In single player, the dog is able to do eyebrow raising feats like stealth kills and push crowds through solid doors, but in multiplayer, it is just a killstreak. Being that it is one of the lower streaks, it was easily accessible and even though you could kill the dog, it took a few too many shots and it had the ability to instantly kill you from a significant number of feet away.
As modes like Spec-Ops and Nazi Zombies have been wildly successful in the previous Call of Duty titles, Ghosts has included a new alien horde mode called Extinction. The mode is interesting in its concept and can be fun, but do not expect more than a wave based shooter, with an in-game currency for upgrades and weapons. The other major issue with the mode, is that it feels quite empty, as there is currently only one map to be played before it has completely ran its course.
Ghosts does contain another mode called Squads, which allows any player to set up a virtual team to compete in various formatted matches. This is little more than an effort to expand the ability to compete with and against bots, although interesting in its execution, I didn’t find much use for it except for Safeguard – which is another wave styled match type.
One new addition that will be worth noting, is the new Call of Duty app, that will allow a tablet or mobile device features like second screen functionality and expansion into the Call of Duty Clan Wars metagame. A feature that lets groups of friends compete for small territories, to unlock bonuses, without even having to play together to rank up.
Visually, Call of Duty: Ghosts on the PS4 is a monumental leap forward for PlayStation fans, as everything from the polygon count, texture fidelity, lighting and saturation levels all look significantly better than we have become used to on the PS3. Even though most of the new console features really don’t lend themselves to adding much to the experience, the visuals disparity between the current generation and next-generation of consoles is becoming impossible to not notice and should be a determining factor.
Ultimately, Call of Duty: Ghosts can be considered as the standard for what has become expected from the franchise, but even if it isn’t a drastic departure from what some have grown to hate or love, it is still a product that is tremendously fun to play with your friends and has enough options to keep you playing for hundreds of hours.
* A copy of this game and a trip for review was provided by the publisher.