Let me take you back to 2007, when the first-person shooter genre was oversaturated with World War II games. Infinity Ward released Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, molding their franchise for the future. Not only were the graphics outstanding, but the campaign was memorable and gritty, and the multiplayer was the peak of console shooters. Six years later, Call of Duty is now known exclusively for its multiplayer community and yearly releases. After being gutted of its original employees and rebuilt like Frankenstein’s Monster, Infinity Ward has just released the tenth game in the franchise, Call of Duty: Ghosts. Are the developers actually trying to further the franchise and create good games? Or are they beating this dead horse like a piñata full of parents’ money? Let’s take a look.
Considering the majority of Call of Duty players haven’t seen more than the first level of the campaign, let me give you a brief overview of Ghosts single-player mode. Taking place in the near future, evil South American terrorists (The Federation) take over ODIN, an advanced U.S. super-weapon orbiting the planet. Using Odin, they destroy most of the United States major cities, leaving the country a smoldering mess. You begin by playing Logan Walker, a seemingly mute American, living with your father and brother. After almost being killed by ODIN in the introduction, the campaign jumps ten years into the future, where you are part of the army fighting against The Federation and eventually become inducted into the elite group of “Ghosts”. You spend the rest of the game going from one over-the-top moment to the next, blowing up submarines, having shootouts in space, and fighting your way through a ransacked Las Vegas. The plot of Ghosts is one femme fatale away from being a forgotten James Bond movie from the 90’s. Even though Ghosts may be the most creative and different setting Call of Duty has been able to muster, it still doesn’t create any meaningful or interesting moments. Though the voice talents of Stephen Lang, Brandon Routh, and Kevin Gage are a welcome addition, it doesn’t save the dialogue from being a collection of crusty one-liners and people yelling, “Go, go, go!” Also, there’s a dog…revolutionary.
Ghosts is coming out as a multi-platform and multi-generation release, playable on a staggering six platforms. Well, they certainly don’t have to worry about missing any of the gaming market. Unfortunately, like most games that are released alongside new consoles, they end up looking dated within six months. On the Xbox 360, the game looked no better or worse than Modern Warfare 3, but certainly not anywhere near the cutting edge. Even running the highest settings on PC, it’s a mixed bag. Water and fire effects can look pretty nice, but upon closer inspection most of the textures are pixelated and dull. Of course, everyone is really concerned about the quality graphics while doing 360 degree, jumping no-scope headshots, right? Right?!
The multiplayer has the expected list of game types, most returning from Black Ops 2 and Modern Warfare 3. There are a couple of new modes, but they struggle to peel players away from Team Deathmatch. When I played last, Team Deathmatch had about 50,000 players while Search and Rescue had about 8,000. You can easily tell what players want out of Ghosts‘ multiplayer. Infinity Ward changed a few key components of the multiplayer, like adding in a character customization and mixing up how perks are selected. Instead of picking three perks from three different categories, all of the perks can be individually chosen and cost a certain amount of slots. Once your slots are filled, you can’t have any more perks. So, you can choose to have six or seven weak perks, or two or three powerful ones. Scorestreaks are similar to Modern Warfare 3, having you choose an Assault, Support, or Specialist package. These categories each have their own streaks and operate in different ways.
While the new perk system is a nice change of pace, the multiplayer has some painfully frustrating issues already. The maps tend to be an extremely unbalanced mix of close quarters and long sight lines. As soon as one team can capture a certain point, it can be held nearly indefinitely and used to massacre the other team. My biggest problem with Ghosts multiplayer is the respawning. I have no idea what the developer was aiming for when deciding where to respawn players. I can understand spawning at captured bases, on one side of the map, or even having you spawn on teammates, like Battlefield. But, Ghosts seems to have no system in place for deciding where to spit out freshly killed players. In every match that I have played, I am consistently spawned within twenty or thirty feet of enemy players, usually in their line of sight. It’s not just a problem for the enemies spawning, either. When you are playing a match and an enemy spawns right in front of you, there isn’t much of a choice. As bad as killing newly spawned players may be, the game is literally putting them right in front of you. Combine the horrible respawn points with the unbalanced maps, and you have for some very annoying nights of multiplayer. Luckily, there are already four or five DLC packs in the pipeline for Ghosts. So, in a couple of weeks, you can get two or three new maps for only twenty dollars! Sweet deal!
The multiplayer is the real reason people flock to Call of Duty, with Ghosts already occupying a majority of the CoD community. I’m no stranger to the Call of Duty multiplayer, having played each game and Prestiged a few times. It feels like enjoying playing Call of Duty is almost a shameful secret, due to the fact that the franchise is treading into Madden territory. To be honest, I was dreading the campaign of Ghosts, but looking forward to trying out the multiplayer. That said, I can tell you that I don’t enjoy the multiplayer. When Ghosts’ multiplayer works, it can be enjoyable. But, when it doesn’t work, it’s more tedious than fun.
Aside from the campaign and multiplayer, there are a few more ways to play Ghosts. There is Extinction, a Zombies-esque open world mode, where four players have to destroy alien hives around varying locations while fending off waves of alien monsters. I’m not sure how everyone else is reacting to Extinction, but I didn’t find much reason to seriously attempt beating it, aside from achievements. Destroying the hives and defending the drill isn’t particularly fun, neither is running around with a pistol trying to earn enough cash to buy a shotgun. I’m glad to see Infinity Ward trying something new, but this seems like the Malt’o’Meal version of Treyarch’s Zombies mode. The other mode to play is Squads, where you can purchase a squad of AI teammates, customize them, and do a variety of deathmatch and objective based games against other players and their squads.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is simply another forgettable title in the never-ending stream of Call of Duty games. The campaign is pitiful, short, and uninspired. The multiplayer is easily the best feature, but has some major problems that need fixing. Extinction and Squads are nice additions, but they bore pretty quickly. If you’re looking into getting the newest Call of Duty, you may want to wait a year and see if Treyarch can do better. Much like Guitar Hero’s gameplay, Ghosts has their gameplay down pat. You’ll be hard pressed to find another first-person shooter that is more tightly refined. But, just like Guitar Hero, Call of Duty is suffering from a lack of innovation and a surplus of rapid releases. We all know how things ended for Guitar Hero, folks.
I give Call of Duty: Ghosts 2.5 “EXTREME BRO GIMMICKS” out of 5
By Blake Edwards