Call of Duty: Ghosts Review
Gamer or not, Call of Duty has become a household name. Adults, teens, and children alike have slowly become acquainted with the series in the past ten years it’s been around. As of late, it seems that the franchise makes it their goal to release a new title annually. In most cases, this has played in Activision’s favor, gaining praise and money year after year. Even those who complain still seem to keep on coming back, and why not? As Call of Duty only changes slightly title to title, the main elements of the game are always implemented in each title – i.e. multiplayer and campaign. 2013 was the year of change, and the demand for something different. Infinity Ward seized the opportunity, and instead of continuing with the modern route players were used to seeing, they wiped the slate clean entirely. This allowed for brand new characters with brand new backgrounds, but most importantly paved the way for a fresh storyline. While ambition is quite the admiral trait, when taken in the wrong direction it doesn’t always pan out. In the case of Call of Duty: Ghosts – a title that had a lot of potential, the first person shooter fell short, and delivered something hardly more than lackluster.
Infinity Ward ended the Modern Warfare story arch back in 2011, allowing for the company to have free reign when it came to Call of Duty: Ghosts. With that much freedom comes great responsibility, and sometimes the pressure to deliver comes too great. While the potential for Ghosts’ story to be great was there, it ended up feeling like a story that was rushed and under-developed for the sack of a release date.
The campaign opens on a man recanting what is believed to be old myths to his sons, just before an organization known as the Federation wages an attack on the major cities on the planet. Players quickly take on the role of Logan Walker – one of the boys focused on in the opening scene, as he and his brother Hesh race to find their father who has gone searching for their mother. The world as Logan as his family knows it falls apart right in front of their eyes, and all within a matter of moments.
The main center of the story takes place years after the initial attack, where the military has pitted themselves against the Federation in an attempt to stop them once and for all. While the threat of the Federation might seem like an overwhelming force in itself, former members of the Special Ops unit called Ghosts – who are conveniently part of the U.S. military as well, soon find out that someone who used to be amongst their ranks has a kill list, whose members consist only of used-to-be Ghosts. Without giving away too much, the man out for revenge, Rorke, targets the Ghosts by any means, and it’s up to Logan and his brother Hesh to bring him down no matter the costs.
While the barebones of the storyline in Call of Duty: Ghosts should be given a gold star for the valiant effort, the attempts at a true, compelling story are lacking. Instead of the focus being on the plotline, as it should be when trying to immerse ones self into a story, the problem was that the plotline created for Call of Duty: Ghosts was lacking, and leaving something to be desired. Without characters to invest in, and a storyline to get behind, the action is what players have to fall back on – which in its defense is perhaps the one redeeming thing in the Call of Duty: Ghosts campaign. There are scenes that take players into space, and even underwater where they have to go up against sharks.
Perhaps another disappointment where the story is concerned was the build up that Activision placed around Logan and Hesh’s furry companion, Riley. Being able to use man’s best friend is a more than invited new feature, and puts a special twist on the game. However, the lack of screen time Riley is granted makes the dog almost seem as if he were thrown in without much thought. The only reason someone might feel an attachment toward Riley is due to his or her love of animals, and otherwise he ranks alongside the rest of the characters.
Try as it might, Call of Duty: Ghosts doesn’t come close to having a story that gamers will be talking about in the months to come. While the campaign makes essentially half of what the title consists of, it seems that it will be nothing more than a mere thought. Maybe next time around Activision won’t run free with such freedom and instead refine the story elements for next year’s installment of Call of Duty, giving players the plotline they deserve.
Call of Duty: Ghosts’ gameplay could be described as an old dog, with old tricks. That doesn’t take away from the newly implemented features in-game or the new modes, but for the most part everything feels like a regurgitation of what’s already been done. For instance, the changes in the Create a Class are hardly different, and if anything it’s more jumbled and confusing, making it harder for newcomers who haven’t acquainted themselves with other titles to get into the swing of things. The biggest change is being able to customize a soldier, an innovative move on Activision’s part, that on the surface looks like something brand new. Players are now given the option to play as a female, but beyond picking and switching out certain aspects of an outfit – i.e. headgear and uniform, there isn’t much freedom given to the players with customization ability. Most of the camo options given to players leave something to be desired, as none of them standout – save for the pink option that Caustic offers.
It seems that Call of Duty: Ghosts basically swapped out old maps, guns, and multiplayer modes like every other title tends to. The biggest difference this time around multiplayer wise is that the maps tend to be vast, and even a small map in Ghosts is still definitely medium sized. That being said, it makes it easier for snipers to lurk around, or camp in hiding spots unlike it was in Black Ops 2. A downfall, however, is that with the huge maps players can find themselves running around for a while before finding someone, especially since the six man team wasn’t increased. The maps do feel as if they’ve got multiple layers to them this time around, and they’re not as linear as maps were in Black Ops 2, which gives the multiplayer experience a little extra something. While special features such as being able to verse clans, slide on the ground, and peek around corners has been added, they don’t really add too much to the overall experience. Features that sort of lack excitement seem to be the way to go in Call of Duty: Ghosts, especially where ranking is involved. Levels no longer matter whereas they did before. Players can purchase any item they wish, even if it has a level restriction, which effectively gives no importance to said levels anyway. That means your rank is nothing more than a little number next to your name, which is a shame. To go along with that, guns have minimal recoil, which allows for anyone who might not be as skilled to reign supreme. It almost makes things too easy, and when you add that in with sat comms – a UAV device that can be placed on the ground, it seems that Call of Duty: Ghosts might almost be too easy. Something that was taken out of Ghosts was the theater mode too, which is something that no doubt will disappoint some gamers.
· Search and Rescue: This mode is a variation on Search and Destroy. Players are still only granted one life, but are able to be revived if a teammate picks up their dropped dogtag.
· Infected: This mode bares a striking resemblance to an element from Halo. Players are shotgun-wielding survivors that get turned into the undead, who then are only able to take down enemies by way of melee.
· Hunted: This mode pits two teams against each other, each side only starting with pistols. Periodically, weapons crates will drop allowing players to gun for better weapons.
· Grind: This is Kill Confirmed with a special twist. Instead of running around and collecting dog tags as players see fit, they must deposit them in one of two banks.
· Blitz: A variation on Capture the Flag, Blitz has players running to their enemy’s base to retrieve the flag, only this time there’s no need to return it to your base as you’re instantly teleported back once the flag is in your hands.
· Cranked: A play on Team Deathmatch where when players kill an enemy, they get an extra speed boost for the duration of thirty seconds. Players must get another kill before the seconds tick away, as they will blow up if not.
· Extinction: Think Zombies with Aliens. Extinction has players fight against a threat that is out of this world while completing challenges and objectives.
If you were expecting to get that warm, fuzzy feeling on the inside upon feasting your eyes on Call of Duty: Ghosts’ graphics, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. While noting of graphics refining can be made, the difference between what you see now, and what players are already familiar with in the COD series’ previous installment Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is minimal. There was no jaw dropping experience, and no oohs and aahs upon first glimpse of the game – or any time there after. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the next generation console releases are just around the corner and Activision is more than likely to pull out their big guns with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game. When it comes to current gen, no leaps and bounds in visuals have been made. As unfortunate as that might be for those who were looking for significant improvements for their current generation gaming systems, it only gives gamers something to further look forward to with the next gen consoles.
If there was one thing Activision made an effort to emphasize it was setting the mood by using those handy, dandy things called ears. Allow me to clarify. Most gamers might not be consciously aware of how much they crave sound, or how much it might bring them right in. That being said, the minds at Activision were obviously aware of said fact, and took advantage of it in numerous ways. Where other titles might simply brush over small details, Gall of Duty: Ghosts made it a point to pay close attention to even the smallest sound details. While treading through water, the rippling noises one would expect to hear are evident. The same can be said for dripping water that sounds like it’s coming right out of a metal pipe.
Of course, it’s not the small details that most tend to think matter, but only end up adding to the overall experience. However, the explosions in Call of Duty: Ghosts have that extra oomph, and allow players to feel like they’re in the thick of the action. Gamers want to be immersed in a game, they want to feel that gun in their hands, bullets blazing by them and, even though this is generally sought out through storyline, it doesn’t hurt when the sounds pull you right in. In addition to the ambiance set by the background noises, the voice acting is quite convincing. When Hesh feels an emotion, you can hear it resonate within him. The same can be said for Elias, and especially Rorke who has a way of bringing a commanding presence to light through his words, and emphasis on different syllables.
With a completely new slate, giving Call of Duty: Ghosts a plethora of opportunities, it seems that none were taken advantage of. With Activision’s hands washed clean of any remnants that other titles might have left behind, they were given the chance to start over. New characters, a new story, and yet they dropped the ball. The storyline was basic with a complete lack of ambition, and something that lacked true emotion. The characters had potential, but with no real development it was easy to brush them off with a mere shrug of the shoulders. Even the new tweaks on game modes felt like the same thing spat back out with the illusion of a new twist. Redeeming factors such as the Extinction mode, soldier customization, and a few other features are not enough to make this game worth throwing down a significant chunk of change for the title. I was unfortunate enough to suffer through the agony of money loss. Heed my warning, and don’t follow in my footsteps.