Call of Duty took first person shooters to the next level in its early days and fans have eagerly awaited the next industry changing title. Unfortunately, Call of Duty: Ghosts once again sticks to the franchise’s strengths but does still add a few new twists that are undoubtedly fun but without any revolutionary effect.
As you would expect, the controls are very responsive – creating fluid movement congenial to the fast paced play. Ghosts maintains the series staple of crazy over the top moments that makes it feel like an action movie that leaves you without a moment’s breath. These grandiose shock and awe moments are at its best in the single player campaign but some of the more intriguing moments are more subtle.
A surprising and welcome change was a greater focus on the characters and the human elements that connect you to the story. The story touches on the relationships more than we’ve seen in the past and even adds a new canine companion, contributing an emotional core to the narrative that definitely enriches the experience.
The campaign does not focus too much on a few limited and uninspired areas but rather gives you tremendous variety in these raucous environments. In one mission you can be scuba diving, defending yourself against not only human enemies but natural threats like sharks as well. In another mission, you can find yourself operating devastating vehicles like a tank or helicopter, shelling out a barrage of fire and destruction. You will even end up in space – fighting in zero gravity. The campaign is refreshing in its approach, though only introducing slightly new ideas leaving you with almost exactly what you would expect from such a game.
When it comes down to hours of gameplay and where you will spend most of your time, the greatest amount of joy will be found in the online multiplayer matches. It is not exactly a revamp of the previous system but it does add a number of tweaks that livens the experience.
The multiplayer portion has a total of 13 different modes including a few new modes like the fast paced Cranked. This mode is all about getting kills fast, and consistently. The premise is about getting kills within 30 seconds or you’ll explode. As you get kills you are continually rewarded with upgrades and abilities (ex. fast movement, 2x scoring) that buff you up to feed the unstoppable carnage train. Another mode that closely resembles the old kill confirmed mode is Grind. This is similar to kill confirmed but instead of instantly getting points for obtaining the dog tags you must deposit the tags at a central location, adding an almost capture the flag layer to it. Another great expansion of the multiplayer is in the “create a soldier” addition.
Ghosts allows you to not only manage your character’s physical abilities but also their physical appearance. The soldiers’ look and loadout are more customizable than any other previous game. The appearance customization lets you add options like helmets, ghillie suits, and different faces, which is a new element that adds some personal flair to share in your online experience.
Looking at the practical side of things, there is a similar take on the previous equipment and perk system that allows you to unlock and swap out different selections. It may take some time to fully understand the utility of your choices as there are a variety of combinations to create but it is an enjoyable journey to find that out. Despite the plethora of choices there isn’t one standout “cocktail of death” that would allow for one player to have a distinct advantage over another. If all those gameplay options were not enough there is also the survival mode called Extinction.
Extinction is an amalgamation of the zombies and survival mode in Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3 respectively. Extinction is different in that the enemies you tangle with are a variety of alien species that are less human-like and more animalistic, which makes them far more robust and unpredictable in battle.
In the end, Ghosts is joyous romp in typical Call of Duty style: smooth controls, big action, and loads of extras to keep you relatively busy. Although there is an effort to do things differently, it ultimately felt like it was playing catch up with other shooters that are doing so much more. There just wasn’t enough to break out of the antiquated formula.