Going into this year, a lot of people were probably expecting yet another installment in the Modern Warfare series of Call of Duty games. Infinity Ward (Along with Raven ad Neversoft) chose to go in a different direction and release a brand new title in Call of Duty: Ghosts. Can this new direction result in a compelling new game or will it be the same old stuff that we saw last year from the series?
I have to admit, I was a pretty big Call of Duty player back when the first two came out on PC and I really loved Call of Duty: Big Red One on PlayStation 2. That game was pretty much the precursor to all the games that were to come and set the benchmark for online shooters. Of course Call of Duty: Modern Warfare created somewhat of a monster bringing yearly installments of the series to the masses and becoming stale in the process. I stopped playing Call of Duty games after shortly after the release of Modern Warfare 2 and didn’t touch another one until Black Ops II last year. With Ghosts, the hope is that it could stay true to the Call of Duty formula and still introduce enough new elements to freshen up the series a bit. The result isn’t as great as I’d hoped.
I’ve never gone into a Call of Duty game expecting a mind-blowing single-player experience and you definitely won’t get that in Ghosts but, at the very least, the developers tried to bring in some massive set pieces and create some memorable moments and suceeded in that. In the game’s opening moments you’re thrust into space where, other moments you control Riley the dog, other times you’re repelling down a skyscraper. The st0ry centers around two brothers, Logan and Hesh along with their dog Riley and their father Elias. It’s not the greatest story on the world but, there are enough insane moments and different gameplay elements, as mentioned before, that make the campaign fairly enjoyable. For me, it wasn’t something I felt like I had to complete but, it was a lot better than a lot of the previous campaigns in Call of Duty have given us. The voice-acting was believable, the story was pretty well-paced, and it had just the right amount of difficulty.
Ghosts is a good-looking game graphically on the PS4, nothing completely stunned me but, it does look good. There are a lot of nice reflections, puddles, more content in levels, and colour. Points have to be taken away for the water in the flooded level, it’s literally a layer, when you fall below the water during a death or what not, it looks like a PS2 texture. It seems like a petty thing but, the three people in the room who watched this couldn’t believe how bad it looked as well. It’s a small thing but, it’s lazy. The level design itself is good beyond that though, I was really impressed with how easily enemies hide and sneak up on you, it adds a new element to the series that was very hard to pull off before. The levels are also much bigger and have multiple levels and spots to either snipe or gain an aerial advantage on your enemies. There’s just a lot more variety than in past games. As far as sound goes, this one does pretty well to bring you right into the middle of the warzone with massive blasts for explosions, bullets whizzing by, shell casings hitting the ground, and the sound of dogs attacking you. The atmosphere is much improved.
As much as there have been many strides made technically and to the campaign, the multiplayer does still struggle with many of the same issues that have plagued the series since the beginning. I can’t tell you how many times I was killed within 2 seconds after spawning, this should never be an issue with the amount of space in these levels and yet the cheap kills are still there. The other thing that I really find strange is the slight auto-aim that still exists right when you start aiming at someone, if you have a high-powered rifle or shotgun, it’s always a one-hit kill. I’m all for good competition but, when you kill me and only aimed for a split-second, I find that extremely pathetic and something that should have been fixed long ago. Of course, those small annoyances don’t take away from the fun, the shooting has definitely been refined a bit giving the person who gets the jump the easiest opportunity to get the kill.
New to the series are Marksman rifles which bridge the gap between assault rifles and sniper rifles and have quickly become a favourite of mine as I love to be able to take the long accurate shot without having a full-blown sniper rifle. There’s a smattering of new perks and gadgets but, nothing too crazy or worth diving too much into. The dogs definitely drive me crazy though, it seems like everyone has a dog around the corner. Same with the game modes, there are new takes on Team Deathmatch like cranked where you have to get a kill in the 30 seconds after you kill someone or you explode and Grind is like Kill Confirmed except you must deposit dog tags into a bank before you die or else you lose them. There’s also Extinction with an alien invasion or squads if AI bots are more your style. All in all, there’s a lot of variety to explore.
This was a good not great effort from the three developers who made this game. There were some good steps forward, a few steps back, and a lot of the same things we’ve seen before. If you liked Black Ops II, you’ll definitely like Ghosts, I just can’t wait to see what they can do when they truly focus their efforts on the next-gen consoles because this one still felt like it was trying to tone down some things to not outshine the 360/PS3 versions. This is the Call of Duty you know, but after 6 or 7 years, I expected a bit more than some improved levels and graphics, there are a lot of gameplay refinements that can be made if they choose to do so. It’s by no means a bad game, there’s just no real justification I see to upgrading from Black Ops II at this point in time.
A copy of this game was provided by Activision to FYIG for review purposes.