Call of Duty Ghosts Review
Earn the mask.
Infinity Ward are back in the driver’s seat of the Call of Duty series but those of you who were hoping for a Modern Warfare 4 are going to have to wait. Beginning a new chapter in the world’s most popular military shooter is Call of Duty: Ghosts. No, this isn’t a Tom Clancy game, and though it does take place in the future, it isn’t Black Ops 3 either. Ghosts is decidedly its own game, but can it stand above Infinity Ward’s previous work or will it fade into the background?
If you were wondering when the Call of Duty franchise was going to run out of wars to make games about, rest assured, this isn’t the year. Call of Duty: Ghosts takes place in the near future, after a war that has devastated America. Portions of the U.S military are still intact and one of these surviving units are a mythical special forces unit called the Ghosts. The setup to this story might sound a little cliché on paper but the opening act was very well done.
I specifically mention the first act because after the opening series of missions, the story quickly falls apart. It becomes hard to tell which character is which, as well as which character you’re controlling at the moment, and any that do stand out only do so because they’re older than everyone else. The Modern Warfare series had great stories and great characters, with Modern Warfare 2 being one of my favorite game stories of all time, but Ghosts is not some of Infinity Ward’s best work.
Though the story doesn’t carry the campaign, the levels themselves are usually quite fun. Very seldom do the scenarios descend into clearing rooms full of enemies, one after another, and the run and gun action is often broken up with interesting set pieces. The dog you saw so much of in the press leading up to Ghosts’ release isn’t exactly the center of the action he was made out to be in some of the promotional videos, but he did star in some interesting sections of gameplay.
Visually, Call of Duty Ghosts did seem more polished than its predecessors and I’m sure it will look even better on next generation systems when they release. Every last ounce of power is being drawn out of this old game engine and Ghosts looks great because of it.
Oddly enough, the campaign doesn’t try to do anything extra like Black Ops 2 did with the Strike Force missions so it feels like a step backward at the end of the day. You will still get to play through a pretty wild six hour action movie, it just won’t be your favorite Call of Duty campaign. The other good thing, for you lone wolves or offline players, is that you can play Squads and Extinction (modes we’ll get into below) offline or in two-player split-screen.
Call of Duty: Ghosts features the same style of great multiplayer action that you’re used to. This year’s maps are bolder and more detailed than many from the previous games but the core action remains the largely the same. There have been a few tweaks to the progression system and character customization options but nothing that changes the adversarial portion of the game in any big way.
Zombies has always been Treyarch’s thing, when it comes to co-op, so instead Ghosts tries to make aliens the new zombies with Extinction mode. This mode will feel similar to the Zombies co-op mode that was included with some of the previous games but involves defending different points from waves of aliens, instead of waves of undead. You won’t die as quickly as you did in Zombies but the environments don’t evolve in the same way they did, as players spent money to unlock doors. Building defenses has been reduced to spending a little money on certain set pieces, like a short section of electric fence, rather than the more elaborate environmental interactions that Extinction’s predecessor featured.
Squads mode, the final option for multiplayer action, is a deeper version of the AI training modes available in some of the previous games in the series and allows you to customize your AI allies and engage in battle with other AI opponents. Players who might be intimidated by the standard online competitive multiplayer modes can join with their friends and take out some bots to build their confidence.
Lots of people are going to enjoy Call of Duty: Ghosts. The campaign is an entertaining, if forgettable, thrill ride that is over in a couple of hours. The multiplayer action is the same great formula that made the series so popular to begin with, and there is even some co-op action for people who want a more casual experience with just their friends. However, if you dig a little deeper, you can see that Ghosts is the first game in the series that didn’t move things forward. In fact, some of the modes have gone backward. Certain pieces of Call of Duty: Ghosts are great, but this isn’t the total package you’re used to when you buy a Call of Duty game.