Campaign gameplay

Fight like Ghosts

On the plus side, this failure to sustain a coherent narrative allows the campaign to jump to a different exotic locale for every mission. And the Ghosts' MO—to kill quietly, achieve goals efficiently, and get out before anyone knows they're there—provides for some of the most tense stealth gameplay this side of Metro 2033. The fact that they're aided by technology like sensor grenades that light up enemies behind cover and UAV drones that let you mark targets from the skies makes them feel like well-equipped superheroes, like a squad of Batmans.

The campaign's highlights come from stalking targets through crowded camps, going prone and letting your camo kick in to avoid detection, and taking enemies out with slickly executed synchronized shots. Marking targets for your allies from the ground or in the air and taking them out simultaneously is arguably the campaign's finest innovation. And the game's smart AI is almost always up for the task.

Sadly, those stealth segments, which hearken back to the series' past, constitute only about half the campaign, while balls-out firefights, on-rails shooting galleries and far-fetched set piece battles take up the rest. It's not that the gunplay is bad (it's exquisite in fact), but these sections don't feel fresh. If anything, they come off as slightly dated.

Manning a jeep's rear-mounted chain gun, you can't help but wonder how you can possibly take out a dozen other identically-equipped vehicles in a span of heartbeats without taking any damage yourself. And when you're forced to restrain a target with one arm and fight off waves of reckless enemies who can't help but run in front of your bullets, the dual feelings of helplessness and infallibility are incongruous and off-putting. That's the negative side of the Michael Bay-ification of blockbuster games over the last half-decade; as if every scene without an explosive fireball is seen as a missed opportunity.

PAGE 3 of 5