Well, what did you expect?
We all knew that the next Call of Duty game, the annual release of multiplayer shooting goodness with a secondary single player mode, would be coming from Infinity Ward. But maybe we were expecting Modern Warfare 4? Not that the name really matters, but choosing to dramatically title the game “Ghosts”, we were perhaps expecting some big changes?
However, with a series as popular as Call of Duty, played by millions around the world, changes have to be made delicately, so as not to break the already million selling formula that keeps Call of Duty at the top of its game. And it seems that with Call of Duty: Ghosts, Infinity Ward have been more cautious than they should have been, resulting in a game that feels too similar, lacking the advancements that the players would have expected, and even moving backwards in some instances.
But this is Call of Duty! Picking up the game guarantees a rollercoaster ride of single player action in some amazing environments, a multiplayer game that is fueled by adrenaline, and even a few surprises, one of which replaces zombies with aliens. Suggesting that a new Call of Duty title is a bit “samey” is no bad thing…
Despite the fact that the single player story in Ghosts was left untouched for a while as I threw myself into the multiplayer and “other stuff”, I always think it is important to begin with the solo game. As is always the case, an over the top tale provides the meaning behind the various different missions and set pieces.
Players take on the role of Logan in a world that has gone a bit pear-shaped. Basically, South America has unified. This newly formed Federation quickly, as in at the very beginning of the game, attack the US. It is then down to the Ghosts, highly trained spec ops soldiers, to hold off an invasion. More or less. As always, the story acts only as a vehicle to carry the player from one all-important mission to the next. Players will follow the path through each level, occasionally marveling at where they are or what they have to do, and save the world, or the US, or their dog. It’s the shooting that matters, and the things that are happening around the player as they shoot are secondary.
Which is even more the case in Ghosts as many of their impressive setpieces have been completely overshadowed by the recently released Battlefield 4. The situations that the player finds themselves in push for excitement and impressiveness, but fall slightly flat after the adrenaline rush of EA’s flagship shooter. That’s not to say there are no moments in the game that will make the player sit up and take notice – underwater and space spring to mind – but there is a feeling that EA have trumped Activision in the apocalyptic setpiece stakes. Mind you, it lasts a bit longer than the Battlefield 4 story, even if the end result is just as uninspiring.
Anyway, the multiplayer is where the game is focused, and the usual “slightly less serious than Battlefield 4″ gameplay returns with very little by way of change to occupy our evenings as we entertainingly shoot and get shot by people all around the world.
The largest change in the multiplayer game comes in the way players can customise their soldiers. Alongside all manner of cosmetic changes that the player can inflict on their hapless avatar, such as different heads, uniforms and even the introduction of female avatars, the way players kit out their warrior has changed somewhat. The changes are not huge, with the player being assigned points to unlock/purchase differently valued perks alongside the usual weapons and attachments. The system is not quite as straight forward as Black Ops II, but it works.
Ghosts brings the usual selection of new guns to play with, including the new Marksman Rifles which come part way between a Sniper Rifle and an Assault Rifle, and new killstreaks to reward the player for taking down adversaries. There are also a selection of new modes to enjoy, offering slight tweaks on what players will already be familiar with, such as Infected which has players turn into zombies, or the Jason Statham styled Cranked which rewards the player who scores a kill with a limited boost to their speed which will cause them to explode if they don’t manage another kill before the boost wears off. Mostly there for novelty value, none of these new modes will offer much more than a distraction over the returning standard modes.
Then there are the 14 new maps for multiplayer. They are incredibly varied and entertaining, with some highlights such as the castle town map and the prison map, but again pale when compared to the amazing range in Battlefield 4. There are even dynamic map events, but they are no where near as impressive as in EA’s offering.
All in all, the more light-hearted nature of Ghosts multiplayer will win out against Battlefield 4, even if it doesn’t quite measure up. Ghosts multiplayer is great fun and will be a staple in many gamers multiplayer entertainment, even though the changes don’t really add up to much.
Squads mode is an interesting new addition that will offer both competitive multiplayer, co-op and even single player training for those who need it. The player creates a Squad of soldiers which the AI can then take control of, against other bots. Your Squad can be customised just as your multiplayer avatar, and then your newly formed Squad can join you in various different modes, including a strangely hidden Horde-style mode, with other player joining your team, or facing off against you with their own Squad. It’s a nice mode that will grow over time, and a really worthy addition to the game.
But surely the most exciting new addition is Infinity Wards attempt to replicate the success of Treyarch’s Zombies mode. Dumping the zombies for aliens, Extinction mode offers a more straight forward challenge for the co-op players as they trek around the map, trying to shut down alien hives as the hordes of aliens take exception and try to kill you. Players will earn points to increase their chosen skills as they play, and there is a firm concentration of co-operation if the team wants to survive. Great fun to play.
And so it is that the latest Call of Duty game, the one that so many of us will be playing until the next one comes out, offers a few additions of note, but ultimately fails to evolve. It is a safe bet by Activision, but one that is overshadowed by Battlefield 4. Not that it matters, because the game will sell by the millions anyway. But Activision’s next offering will need to be something really special to keep Call of Duty at the top of the multiplayer shooter pile.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is almost exactly as expected. The single player game is exciting but ultimately throw away and the multiplayer is great fun. Squads and Extinction are the notable additions that will get players excited as they settle down into the comfortable gameplay of the multiplayer. Infinity Ward have played it safe, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy their work.