Developer: Infinity Ward
Release date: November 5
Call of Duty: Ghosts kicks-off with a brand new story, entering a new generation of consoles with a fresh batch of heroes. Ghosts will take players to places they’ve never been: underwater, to space, in the company of a trusty murderous attack dog. But besides the massive set pieces and beautifully detailed maps, much will feel harrowingly the same.
With an apocalyptic level collapse of the U.S. as the backdrop for Ghosts, players will navigate destroyed cities, crumbling suburbs and snow covered camps as a small resistance struggles to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Alternately feeling like a tight action movie and a sloppy army-recruiting tool, the story of Ghosts isn’t going to win any awards but it gets the job done. Players will be assaulted by a dizzying array of devastation at the beginning of the game which languishes most of the way to the end leaving us simply confused. But the missions of Ghosts are compelling in a way that the story is not. Players will face some night infiltration; an undercover mission and a few other bright spots among the standard Call of Duty fare of “kill everything in front of you.”
The story aside, lets cut to the chase. Multiplayer in Ghosts is still quite good but with a few tweaks that may mix-up long time players. The 10-point system of Black Ops II has been replaced by a perk system that, while still allowing some customization, feels like it’s been made more complicated. The Pick 10 system was simple and familiar while the new system can be somewhere overwhelming to first time players, making the new system feel like a step backwards.
Multiplayer feels much the same as previous entries in the series, with only a few tweaks to movement, but not enough to make any real change in your play style. One thing that has been cleared-up with Ghosts is the annoying ownership of the skies that kill-streaking players take later in games. Ghosts’ focus is on ground combat and any gains made through kill streaks can be quickly nullified with standard weapons. UAV’s have become SatComs and yes; you can even earn a dog. The dog is a roving melee attack that is fun to play in single-player but sadly underutilized. It’s one of the few new features that Ghosts brings and we could have played a lot more of. One thing you won’t be doing is spending all day trying to unlock a certain weapon or gun type. Weapons are unlocked easily and offer a better balance of play, although it takes some of the drive and excitement out of leveling.
Multiplayer maps have also been reworked with new destructive environments making for a mid-game change of tactics. When a stadium with tight corners and an urban combat scenario crumbles players must quickly adapt to a new strategy from close-up to midrange combat. This little shake-up refreshes the levels and gives players a chance to try again, climbing out of those deep kill holes.
Ghosts also introduces some new multiplayer modes yet none were especially enthralling. Search and Rescue is just that. With only one life, players must collect their fallen teammates dog tags to respawn them. If, however, the enemy gets your tags - you’re out for the game. Infected pits players against melee-only zombies in a survival mode that is fun once, but forgettable. Hunted, has players start with pistols only while random weapons drop around the map. It’s luck of the draw and tactics have little to do with survival. New modes also include Grind, Blitz and Cranked and while yes, they do exist, its nothing that’s going to blow you away.
One new mode that Ghosts really got right is the Extinction mode. In this four-player cooperative, gamers rage against a mysterious horde of aliens spread throughout a small Midwestern town. Think of the first time you played a Call of Duty zombie mode and that’s how much fun you’re going to have with Extinction. Your squad must carry a drill to multiple alien hives and use it to destroy the nests as wave after wave of aliens burst forth. With multiple hives on the map, players much pick which one go for and strategy does play a role as your squad pushes toward the central hive. Extinction is a true cooperative and if players don’t pick their perks wisely their team will meet an untimely demise.
Call of Duty: Ghosts has been related to the NFL by its developers. If they changed the rules of the NFL every year how many people would watch? This idea is clearly behind Ghosts, if you like the series then you’re going to enjoy this one, but don’t expect anything new. Outside of a few high-points and exceedingly high production values, Ghosts offers too many small changes and not enough big ones for our tastes. Ghosts increases the amount of content and customization while offering a brand new story but little else to justify little more than a downloadable content pack. Ghosts lacks the improvements that gamers expect from a sequel but offers instead a tried and true formula that's not at all bad.