Call of Duty: Ghosts | Review Nick Calandra November 10, 2013 Next-gen is right around the corner and Call of Duty: Ghosts will be the first game of the series to enter the next-gen battleground. While it is hardly expected to be a showcase for the next generation, Ghosts is easily one of the best Call of Duty games to be released in a long time and should scratch your itch until the next entry is released in 2014. Call of Duty: Ghosts includes one of the best Call of Duty campaigns to date in terms of both storytelling and gameplay. The campaign takes place in a not-too-distant future where the United States is on the defensive against a new enemy from the southern hemisphere. South American countries have united with each other creating a Federation and are quickly moving towards the North to expand their control. The game follows a family of soldiers: Logan, Hesh, their father Elias and the much advertised Riley, a German Shepard, as they attempt to infiltrate enemy lines as Ghosts, a feared group of soldiers known across the world. The main storyline of the campaign is pretty straightforward, and to save for spoilers we’ll leave the majority of story details out of this review. However, if you plan to buy the game for the campaign alone, I would highly advise that you rent it instead as the campaign is only about 5 hours long when played on regular difficulty and moving forward at a normal pace. Of course just because a campaign is short does not mean that it is lacking in quality, and thankfully, for the 5 hours that Ghosts lasted me, the campaign was a blast. The game takes you all over the world, with a wide variety of missions ranging from fights in space and stealth-oriented missions to controlling helicopters, tanks and even Riley. There are also a wide range of locations to visit in the game that keep things fresh, and as with any Call of Duty game, there is a memorable moment to be had just about every 15 minutes. The story, as with Battlefield 4, tries to focus more on the human side of things during war, but as we have come to expect from shooters those promises usually fall short of the mark. Quite honestly, the story of Ghosts failed to really intrigue me enough to keep me playing, but the enjoyment from the missions gameplay-wise made up for this lack. Unfortunately, Ghosts takes a step back with its campaign design and eschews the player choice and narrative-driven experience of Black Ops II. The majority of story details are presented during loading screens between missions with some pretty interesting animated cutscenes. Put simply, Ghosts doesn’t really try to break the mold of its forebears, so the level of enjoyment it offers for the individual is best gauged by their experience with previous Call of Duty games. In terms of the gameplay, Ghosts is as smooth as the series ever has been. The game runs at the trademark 60FPS that the series is known for and the shooting mechanics are as tight as ever. The controls have received some changes, though. Players can now lean and peek from cover, a feature I’ve been waiting for since the original Modern Warfare might I add, and movement is now more fluid with players able to vault and slide. It may not be a big change to the series, but certainly adds an extra element to player movement and is something every FPS shooter should include. Now all we need is the ability to blindfire from cover. Before we move on to multiplayer in a few more paragraphs, I would like to note that if you don’t plan on playing online and like to play bot matches, you’ll be pretty darn surprised by the bots in Ghosts’ Squad Mode. The AI has been vastly improved from previous games. The bots literally do play like an online opponent, using drop shot techniques, flanking and so on. It offers some great practice for seasoned players as well as multiplayer fun via split-screen with a friend if you find yourself unable to jump into an online match. With Call of Duty: Ghosts being a cross-generation title, I imagine that most of you are eager to discover whether or not the game is a big step up graphically. Unfortunately, we do not currently have access to the next generation version of the game (we should have it some time next week) so we cannot, at this, point offer a comparison. That being said, we will do so as soon as we are able. Far from looking bad, Ghosts does look quite a bit prettier than previous titles, though the “new” engine fails to provide anything along the lines of the giant leap that we are all hoping for from the series at this point. Compared to the likes of Battlefield 4, there is no real competition, but it is notable that the environments look more detailed and realistic than ever before, with vast improvements being made to the lighting, in particular. We can be sure that Ghosts will look better on the next generation consoles, though there appears to be a surprisingly marginal difference in visual quality. If you want to see for yourself, there are numerous comparison videos available online. One of the more surprising things of Call of Duty: Ghosts is the sound design. In previous Call of Duty games the guns have always sounded a bit muffled in comparison to other shooters, but that is not the case here. The weapons all have a punch and will put your surround sound system to good use. It may not be on quite the same level as Battlefield 4 in terms of realism, but man, shooting a sniper rifle in Ghosts has a super satisfying “BOOM!” following the shot. Trust me, if you hear a sniper shooting at you in an online match, you are going to want to take cover. The soundtrack was composed by David Buckley (Metal Gear Solid 4) and while it is good when you can hear it, it does not have the same feeling one gets from tracks by Hans Zimmer, which was a bit of a disappointment for me. You can listen to a sample from the soundtrack just below. [DISCLAIMER] As a site that puts 90% of our focus on the single player portion of the game, we will not go into to much detail for the multiplayer portion of the game. The majority of buyers of Call of Duty: Ghosts are, more than likely, purchasing the game for its multiplayer segment. Who could blame them? Since when has a game set in the modern warfare era had a campaign worth putting the requisite $60 down for? Well, in any case, Ghosts‘ multiplayer is easily the best the series has had to offer since my previous favorite, World at War. Call of Duty: Ghosts is, in my opinion, the most balanced Call of Duty to date. The new create a soldier system gives you the option to create a maximum of 10 soldiers with 6 loadout options each and allows you to customize your soldier to your liking, and yes, there are female soldiers in Ghosts, so ladies, feel free to jump online and kick some ass. The new perks system gives you a set number of points to choose perks from, of which there are now 35 in total, allowing players to really customize their loadout to their playstyle whether it be assault, stealth, support and so on and as I noted above, it really makes the game a lot more balanced than it has been in a long time. There’s no one certain weapon type that over powers another any more and from what I have played, shotguns seem to finally have just the right amount of damage and attributes to them to keep players from abusing them, which was one of my biggest complaints in Black Ops 2. The maps offer quite a bit of variation in location and each has some type of map changing event. The events are sort of a nod to Battlefield 4’s “Levolution” events, but cannot match the scale and cinematic prowess that they provide. The major problem with Ghosts‘ map selection is the size of the maps. Most are a bit too large, and compared to previous Call of Duty games, it takes a bit more time to find an enemy to put down. It detracts from the usual non-stop action that Call of Duty is known for and will obviously affect players’ enjoyment of the fast paced action we have become accustomed to. The cover and leaning mechanics of the campaign are also included in multiplayer, which changes up the pace of the game a bit by adding a strategic element to movement. All of the expected game modes are included in Ghosts, including: Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy (rebranded Search and Rescue), Domination, and Kill Confirmed. Cranked and Grind are new modes that have been incorporated, and they are sure to find some fans. The latter is essentially the same as Kill Confirmed, but instead of just collecting the dog tags, you must return them to a designated point, which leads to some pretty great team-oriented gameplay. Extinction is the newest mode introduced into Call of Duty: Ghosts which is Infinity Ward’s answer to Treyarch’s Zombies. The mode has you and your team completing a set of objective based missions while warding off an alien horde. The mode is challenging, and the aliens are much more nimble than the stumbling zombies so it really forces players to have each other’s back to survive. While I found Extinction less enjoyable than Zombies, it adds more value to a game that is certainly worth the $60 entry point. Overall, Call of Duty: Ghosts is more of the same, but in a refined way. The campaign, while trying to introduce a more human element – a common trend among shooters – fails to reach its intended mark though remains an enjoyable experience worth playing through just for the tight gameplay. Will Call of Duty ever have a campaign that blows us all away with a story driven adventure and unparalleled emotion in a modern day shooter? Probably not, but that does not mean the campaign is not enjoyable or worth playing through a second time. The multiplayer is also more of the same, but introduces a level of balance that we haven’t seen from a Call of Duty game in a long time. It is a breath of fresh air to have that balance and makes the multiplayer fun again. The maps are a bit too large for what were used to, but I am sure as time goes on and players continue to learn the layout of the maps the games will continue to quicken in pace. If you plan on buying a next-gen console and can wait one to two more weeks, you may as well in order to get the better experience, but if you are sticking with current-gen and need your yearly fix of Call of Duty, Ghosts should have you all set. (Reviewed on Xbox 360. Review code supplied by Activision. Thanks.) ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE Story – 6/10 Gameplay/Design – 9/10 Visuals – 8/10 Sound – 8/10 Lasting Appeal – 10/10 _______________________ Overall – 8/10 (Not an average) Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Xbox One, PS4, Wii U Developer: Infinity Ward, Raven Software, Neversoft Publisher: Activision Ratings: M (ESRB), 18 (PEGI), MA15+ (ACB) Danja I’m having a difficult time trying to enjoy the multiplayer. I agree that they have changed the multiplayer via its balance and large and overly exposing maps, but camping is more rampant now than it has ever been. Additionally, I feel like even in standard game types that the enemy guns get you in 1 or two shots, but your gun requires half a dozen or more. The spawn system is broken and the lack of information that you are able to see about your character is minimal at best. Squads mode is an almost pointless mode since your squad mates do not earn XP unless you are playing them. This would hamper anyone’s desire to try and prestige even once if you plan on going full on in Squads. Extinction though is amazing. If you have a good, intelligent group of players you have a much better time and can get pretty far. Though with only 20 waves (which I have not yet completed past 8), there is currently no need to play the mode again after completing it. I hope the season pass adds more maps and experiences to Extinction because that is a ton better than zombies. http://www.onlysp.com/ Nick Calandra Didn’t really notice the camping being much different compared to past Call of Duty games. The way point streaks have been introduced sort of push players to camp more as compared to the way they were set up in Black Ops 2, so I can see your point however.