- Platform: Xbox 360 (reviewed),Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii U, PC
- Published by: Activision
- Developed by: Infinity Ward
- Genre: First Person Shooter
- ESRB Rating: M For Mature
- Number of Players: 1-2, co-op 2, Online multiplayer 1-12
- Release Date: November 5th, 2013 (November 19, 2013 Xbox One)
November is here and that means that it’s Call Of Duty time. This is usually when the fans get excited for the impending release, while the haters spam up every Youtube video that has Call Of Duty on it with ignorant drivel. Stepping away from the Modern Warfare moniker for the first time in a long time, Infinity Ward is offering up something much more unique than the previous couple of entries.
I admit I was left a bit disappointed with Black Ops 2 and certainly Modern Warfare 3, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t willing to give Ghost’s a chance to win me over. Appealing to the dog lover in me was a good start by Infinity Ward, but I think the main thing I did differently this year was to not let myself get sucked into any kind of hype for the game beforehand. I didn’t go out of my way to learn anything about the latest release, I wanted to be surprised and go into the game with a fresh perspective and no expectations.
Call Of Duty gets a real negative reaction on the internet, some of it is probably warranted and some of it definitely isn’t. If you have ever played a Call Of Duty game in the past you’ll largely know what you’re going to be getting. This is a problem for some people, but I think if they were to change the formula a lot more gamer’s would be upset. This franchise doesn’t sell millions upon millions of games every year because it’s terrible, all of them have some fun to be found. I think it just depends on what the individual is looking for. Call Of Duty Ghosts was a bit of a rebirth for me personally. After Black Ops 2 I wasn’t sure I’d buy another Call Of Duty game, but as someone who runs a competitive gaming clan on the side, you need a game like this to keep people active and happy. Let us examine COD Ghosts a little closer.
The graphics for Call Of Duty Ghosts are a slight improvement on Black Ops 2 and certainly on Modern Warfare 3. While it isn’t leaps and bounds above what we’ve seen in the past, it is a noticeable improvement. It’s a Call Of Duty game, so of course it looks like Call Of Duty. It’s also a game running on 8 year old hardware, so to anyone who complains that the game doesn’t look good enough I’d say you do better on 8 year old hardware that runs with a meager 512mb of RAM. There is only so much you can do with a game on the older hardware, and yes I’m aware the frame rate is an issue on other versions of the game. I played it on the Xbox 360 and the frame rate was solid, this is strictly my impressions on the Xbox 360 version of COD Ghosts.
Not only are the graphics improved, the maps on the multiplayer are a lot larger than we’re used to for a Call Of Duty game. Some of the intricacies in the maps are quite impressive and inventive. The set pieces for the campaign are also very well done and with very little texture issues or draw distance. Most importantly as I mentioned earlier, the frame rate in the campaign as well as the multiplayer is as steady and solid as I’ve ever experienced on a Call Of Duty game. So from a technical standpoint the game runs just like it’s supposed to.
The campaign of Call Of Duty Ghosts takes place in an alternate universe than the Black Ops games or the Modern Warfare games. There is a bit of a nuclear fall out and South America forms its own “Federation” and actually becomes a super power of the world. The Federation hijack an orbital space station that uses Kinetic Energy and focuses its power as a weapon on Earth. By the year 2023 things are pretty touch and go because the Federation has invaded America and we’re all pretty evenly matched. You play as a member of Ghosts squad, an elite group of soldiers that are used for the tougher jobs in the military. When it’s learned that the Federation is building their own orbital weapon it’s up to the Ghosts to put a stop to it.
Obviously one of the bigger selling points to the game was Riley the dog, and he plays a very big part of both the story and campaign. He’s probably more human than the character you play as. For some strange reason you take the role of a character without a voice, he doesn’t talk or emote. This could be so you feel more like you are the one in his shoes, but it takes you out of the illusion a bit if you ask me. Usually when you play a COD game your character has a lot more to them, in terms of just emotional aspects. I think Riley does a great job of making you care, but he was really the only reason I did care about the story.
I can honestly say this was one of the best Call Of Duty campaigns I’ve played, sure it was the typical 5-6 hour variety on the normal settings, but I was absolutely enthralled with the action and set pieces. The game’s story grabs you in right away. One moment you’re avoiding a global disaster on Earth, then you’re in space fighting enemies on an actual space station. You go from a tank fight, to a train fight and then on to an underwater mission that was so much fun. If you’re like me you wanted to check into if you could actually fire a gun in space and underwater. It turns out both are pretty accurately done (who knew COD games could be accurate?). I don’t think it’s possible to get bored from the campaign, it never slows down long enough for that to happen.
The online has received a pretty big overhaul, some of it is really good and some of it probably should have stayed the same. The bad news first. There are no more traditional UAV systems, you can earn Sat Com’s through KillStreaks. These are sort of like mini-UAV’s that work in a small area. If enough of your teammates have one set up you’ll see a traditional UAV type of reveal on the minimap. The main reason why this is a problem is because it helps enable camping, and the maps are so large that a more traditional UAV would probably help prevent campers entirely. Some people enjoy larger maps, but when the match size is six versus six it makes for a lot of hiding go seek.
The hit detection is much, much better in Ghosts. While Activision has said all the games will use “hybrid” servers, it’s pretty clear they are only using a server to pick the best host. I’ve suffered through a dozen “Host Migrations” in the last two days alone. I was a bit cautious when Activision announced servers because of the way they worded it. Anytime you hear “hub” or “listen” servers, you know they aren’t true servers. The fact that they took away the connection bars when you press select means that they probably hoped to fool some people into thinking they’ve completely fixed the issues with lag.
One of the best new game mode options is Extinction mode, where you and three friends team up and try to drive back an invading alien force. This is Infinity Wards take on Treyarchs Zombies mode. It’s an absolute blast to play with friends, and offers a few key differences. You can earn points and unlock turrets and other weapons to help ward off the aliens. The basic premise has you using a drill on a section of alien, while the drill is doing its thing you and your friends have to hold off an oncoming hoard. So it’s a bit of a hoard mode and a bit of zombies as well. The overall quick pacing and atmosphere of the mode rivals Zombies in every way.
There are a lot of new game modes in the more traditional multiplayer as well. Search And Rescue is a take on Search And Destroy, but it involves Dog Tags like you’d find in Kill Confirmed. This makes for a much faster paced version of the game. I was never a fan of Search And Destroy, but this version is action packed. Cranked is another new game mode that is pretty interesting. Whenever you get a kill on the enemy a timer starts, you have only a short amount of time to get another kill or you’ll die. The fast paced action reminds me a bit of the movie Cranked, which is probably where they got it from in the first place. Domination, Team Death Match, Kill Confirmed and Infected are all back and play incredibly well. One of my favorite aspects of the online modes in Ghosts is that you aren’t randomly blown up like you were in Black Ops 2. I can’t remember how many times I’d die in BO2 and not really know what happened aside from my character blowing up. The KillStreaks are all more land based than previous entries, which is a very good thing in my opinion.
All in all Call Of Duty Ghosts is the best COD in the last four years. People might complain that it doesn’t innovate enough, but that is something that’s going to be hard to do with such old hardware and with an annualized series. Call Of Duty Ghosts isn’t perfect by any means, but I think the most telling aspect of the game is that I’m actually having a good time with it. I knew almost right away with Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 that I wasn’t going to enjoy those games long-term. Ghosts is its own beast and I’d happily revisit this timeline in the future. The amount of content that you get for $60 is unmatched in my opinion. There is always a game mode to play through, and Infinity Ward has reclaimed the top spot in crafting Call Of Duty in my eyes.