Call of Duty: Ghosts is the latest addition to the Call of Duty series. Over the years the series has gone from just being yearly iterations, to becoming their own sub series with Black Ops, Modern Warfare and the latest being Ghosts. But just how well does this shiny new installment perform?. Should you rush out and pick up your copy today, or should you just let it fester and possibly pick it up for the next generation of consoles?
Ghosts is a whole new sub-series tied into the Call of Duty series, but It’s highly possible that due to how popular ghost from Modern Warfare 2 had become, Infinity Ward decided to expand on ghost and reveal a whole faction based on the character’s appearance and stance within the previous title. Unlike the previous appearances, you’re Logan, a silent protagonist who along with your brother gets caught up within the Ghosts.
Unlike the previous installments, Ghosts has tried to go in a slightly different direction when it comes to gameplay mechanics with the introduction of new games modes. Once you’ve fought your way through the games campaign, you can then take the fight online in a variety of game modes, which includes the new extinction mode. As you would expect, there’s a lot on offer with this package, but lets dig in and find out what’s really going on.
Like with all games in this series, the music, voice acting and other audio assets are top notch. Everything sound great, which really draws you into the experience. Usually sounds are overlooked within most games, but with a high-profile series like this, you can see there’s a lot of time and effort put into what you hear.
Voice acting, as usual is extremely high quality and most of the voice acting is extremely well put together. The characters are a little forgettable at times, and you’re put in situations that try to make you feel certain emotions, but it doesn’t always come off that way due to the setup. But your ears won’t be disappointed as you shoot your way through the various droves of enemies you will encounter.
With this review, we received the Xbox 360 version of this title. So as to be expected the game is quite restricted by what the current generation consoles have to offer. At this current time we won’t be reviewing the PC, Xbox One or PS4 version of the title. So we can only go off of what we’ve played.
The visuals at times are quite varied. At times you will see some quite amazing things, then other times you’re stuck in the same old dank lifeless corridors that litter the game. Due to the nature of the game, you’re always taken through various cinematic style areas. There’s a huge upgrade in the game’s visual assets, but the textures and lighting really let this title down at times. The game runs extremely smooth with little to no frame rate or screen tearing issues. Which is a huge bonus, but it seems that richer environments would have been a little nicer than a constant high frame rate in areas that really don’t need it.
That being said, there are plenty of quite visually impressive moments throughout the game. The textures are the biggest let down this time around, but pretty much everything else you see has a nice high attention to detail. There are even areas which have details you wouldn’t normally expect from this series.
You’re first introduced to all the main characters almost from the start of the game. It’s an interesting introduction, before all hell breaks loose. The writing for each character is interesting, and they all have quite different personalities, but you just happen to be a mute that listens to everything anyone says, and seem to communicate telepathically. I know this has been a running theme with the series, but it just seems weird at times to have such a rich cast of characters and you, the protagonist have nothing to say in the most hostile and extreme situations.
The game’s story progression is extremely fast paced, which is then filled in through a variety of loading screens between missions. These little segments provide an array of interesting story snippets, but they just fill in the gaps while you’re shooting your way through your missions. The quality of the games writing is quite well put together. Listening to your fellow Ghosts as you progress is a welcome break from listening to gun-fire. There are times though where you will hear plenty of the same dialog repeating unless you don’t get on with your objective. I’ve always hated this and thought that an on-screen prompt would be enough. But this could be because the developers don’t want you to explore the areas you’re progressing through.
As you progress through the story you will be prompted to complete a variety of actions. Some are forced commands which have you using remote drones, sniper rifles or even controlling Riley the four-legged neck chewer. As you can imagine, you pick up your weapon of choice of the ground, or use what you have and just shoot your way through the various areas to reach your goal. This formula hasn’t changed over the past few years, and it’s started to become quite stale due how the game progression hasn’t changed over the past few titles.
One thing that started to annoy me slightly was down to how you’re told to use certain equipment or weapons, but only have access to it for a short period of time. From then on out, you’re blocked from using said items until prompted to again. The same goes for progression through areas where you have to wait for your AI team mates to kick down a wall, open a door or tell you what to do. I’ve always founds this to be quite insulting within the story mode, but it’s just how the games have always progressed.
After playing through the campaign though, there are several issues that kept appearing, one is down to the enemy AI randomly standing out of cover and doing nothing. The same can be said for your team AI. This has been an issues that’s plagued quite a few recent releases from this series, but it’s one issue that just won’t go away. So expect to do all the leg work, moving up your team by moving ahead is usually the only way to get them to move. The rest of the time they just hide in cover and shoot at nothing. There are several other issues where getting stuck on the environment, and not being able to fit through holes in walls and such without some persistence take away from the experience, but these are few and far between.
Aside from the general issues I have with the series, I’ve had fun with it. The main story is interesting enough to play through. And there are a few moments where the game throws some varied situations at you. It does feel like the title has been toned down compared to previous installments though. There’s been a few questionable sequences in the past titles, but this time around it seems they’ve passed on making the player feel uneasy.
Onto the multiplayer. From here, there’s quite a few directions you can go. There’s the new extinction mode which is basically the previous zombies mode with aliens. You have to complete various objectives and fend off the alien invasion as you do so. From here you do your general progression through killing aliens, earning cash rewards which then allow you to pick up new weapons. There’s not too much else to say about this mode, just gather together a decent team and play together. Playing online as you would expect has a lot of players dropping out for no reason.
Moving on, there’s the new squad mode which allows you to take your AI squad team into various battle situations. This basically tires together a lot of previous game modes found in other Call of Duty titles and allows you to play them with AI or other players. This is the perfect way to train yourself into playing multiplayer game situations with friends or bots. With the variety of this mode, some players will enjoy it more than playing competitive multiplayer as it adjusts to your skill level as a player. So, if you really dislike playing with other people, this mode is perfect. It also allows you to play offline locally if you happen to have internet issues.
This time around the multiplayer seems to be based more on player skills rather than the perks you gain. There’s still kill streaks, but they seem less dominant in the field. That’s from my experience anyhow. This is more fitting for my personally as I’ve always found the kill streak system to be a little overwhelming at times. Unlike the previous titles, this time around you have a full set of customizations that you can take advanced of. Leveling up no longer rewards you with big weapon upgrades and attachments. You can take advantage of the squad point system which allows you to save up and buy the attachment items and weapons you want. The rest of the items are tied to completing challenges and the perks system is now tied to your level. So you can customize your soldier just how you want without progressing to super high levels to feel the reward.
I’ve always been quite put off with the leveling system in previous titles, but given the ability to upgrade, downgrade and alter my load outs without them being fully tired to a level appeals far more to me as a drop in and out player than putting in serious time to get the items I want. Obviously this isn’t how everyone wants to play. But it just feels more accessible to me as someone who players a large range of games.
If you’re an avid Call of Duty nut, then there’s doubt that you don’t already own this title. But from a casual prospective, this title will appeal to some and not others. There’s a little something for everyone, but if you’re not really interested in the shooter genre, avoid this at all costs. There’s some nice variety between the campaign, multiplayer, extinction mode and squad mode. But Ghosts suffers from the same mistakes as previous installments. The game’s story is forgettable at times, the characters don’t really draw you in and the over the top action and start and stop corridor shooting segments sort of let it down.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had fun playing this title. But there’s just not much else on offer that’s new. Once you’ve played this series from Call of Duty all the way up to Ghosts, you can see the evolution of their game design. But there’s just too many general decisions that carry over to each title that make them feel stale. This entry into the series has tried something new, which is great, there are some rather interesting moments throughout the story, and the new game modes are quite interesting, but there’s just not enough to hold my attention for the long-term. The new multiplayer leveling and equipment system draws me in as I know I won’t be left behind, and if I want to jump on and play a few quick games, earn some points and grab a few new items for my soldier, I can.
So if you’re looking for something to dip in and out within the shooter genre, Ghosts is worth the time. Dedicated players may find the new systems a little strange, but it’s quite refreshing to know that the team behind this title are trying something new with this new entry into the Call of Duty series.