How many Call of Duty games have come out before Call of Duty: Ghosts? How many will come out after?
Title: Call of Duty: Ghosts
Developer:Infinity Ward, Raven Software, Neversoft
Platform: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Wii U, PC
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Call of Duty is Activision’s most profitable IP. A new version of this first-person shooter is now released annually, and it’s hard to say if this train will ever end. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Call of Duty.
What is it that makes the brand so recognizable, let alone appealing?
This wasn’t always the case, and Call of Duty wasn’t always a household name. That trend started around 2007 with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the franchise’s first step out into the modern world of war, leaving the World War II era behind (like everyone else). This was also at the time that Activision started releasing annual editions of the series, with a two-year development cycle, and two developers concurrently working on titles. With the next-gen, this has been bumped up to 3 developers, with a 3 year dev cycle. Spin-cycle, initiate.
All that notwithstanding, this franchise has always been popular, with its engaging, sometimes confusing, yet linear story, that pushes you along large action set pieces at breakneck speeds and controls every step of your experience, lest you start to think you have any semblance of authority. You don’t really play, you’re along for the ride. So strap in!
CALL OF DUTY’S MULTIPLAYER FAN BASE IS NOTHING IF NOT PASSIONATE
Call of Duty’s true bread and butter is, for some reason lost to me, the multiplayer. This keeps the people coming back. Typically portrayed as the scum of the internet, Call of Duty’s multiplayer fan base is nothing if not passionate for their Doritos and Mountain Dew infused FPS. The fan base has become so large and rabid, that these games are typically world record setters on launch – usually selling over a billion dollars worth of units each year, and most of these gamers won’t even start up the single player campaign.
So if that’s been the case for 12 years now, why change what’s clearly not broken.
Call of Duty: Ghosts introduces us to a new story arc. Over is the Modern Warfare days, about to start is the Advanced Warfare future, and in a separate arc entirely, we have the Black Ops story. 3 different story arcs for 3 different developers.
Developed by Infinity Ward, with assistance from Raven Software (multiplayer) and Neversoft (Extinction), Ghosts is technically Call of Duty 10, and the 6th title developed by IW. And for all the experience therein, it seems to be the least innovative title to date.
Partial blame would be leveled at the restructuring of IW itself. After Modern Warfare 2, and the very public firing of IW’s CEO and Creative Lead, Vince Zampella and Jason West respectfully, IW has never really been the same, and has since required the assistance of other developers to pad their games, notably Modern Warfare 3. Another blame can be the result of the conversion to the next generation of consoles, as Ghosts marked the first launch title for the Xbox One and PS4, and first of its kind on the Wii U. So a butchered team, the shell of its former self, coupled with new, next-gen hardware leaves Ghost as a game that tries nothing new.
SO IF THAT’S BEEN THE CASE FOR 12 YEARS, WHY CHANGE WHAT IS CLEARLY NOT BROKEN
The story is set in a time that follows the nuclear destruction of the Middle East, and the formation of a global superpower, in South America, called “The Federation”. The Federation captures an American Orbital Defense space station and uses the weapon to destroy the southwestern United States. The surviving American astronauts self-destruct the space station before it can fall into the enemy hands permanently. America, Fuck Yeah!
10 years later, the war continues between the Federation and the remaining United States, as the game follows the Ghosts, a force of U.S Special Ops personnel trained to conduct secret missions behind enemy lines. The Ghosts are tasked with operations to take out key sites to turn the war in the favour of the Unites States. These elite few discover plans for a new Orbital Space Station designed by the Federation, and as a result, all remaining forces are pooled together in a synchronized assault on the enemy space centre on the ground, while a smaller team attempts to take over the Federation’s satellites in space.
The gameplay follows the same format as previous games, with the story told mainly through the perspective of one character.
This Call of Duty iteration, however, does add a few changes to formula. We’re given a German Shepherd companion for a portion of the story, and there are a few stealth levels where we play the dog, and take down enemies. The game also features underwater levels and missions in space, mixing up the run, crouch, shoot, run tactics, but the segments are still very much: stop, shoot, stop, shoot.
All the multiplayer modes are back with some new mechanics that allow certain areas of the maps to be altered or destroyed, not unlike Battlefield 4’s “levelution”. There is a new nuke-like kill streak perk, and the sniper rifle now features dual-render technology, which allows the player to see around the outside of scope, although blurred, when zoomed in. Was this not around before?
STOP. SHOOT. STOP. SHOOT
Lastly, in a new co-op mode called “Extinction”, has 4 players pitted against aliens in a horde-type base-defending survival mode. The main goal, besides surviving, obviously, is to destroy all the alien hives scattered around the map, and escape. Players get to choose from 4 different class types with unique traits and loadouts.
While not a bad game by any stretch, the run and gun gameplay mechanic is predictable. The quick-time prompts during the story events are frequent, and laughably unoriginal – Press X to feign interest.
Call of Duty: Ghosts can be commended for its action sequences, as they are visually impressive – always throwing larger and louder destruction our way – but a lot of time there isn’t a lot of interaction required from the player. We’re essentially along for the story/ride IW wants to tell/drive, and the game will just sit and wait for you if you try to be difficult, and decide to pout in the corner.
“You WILL play the game like we want you to play it, and you WILL like it.” – Somebody within IW, probably.
The next-gen editions are a step up in the graphics, but nothing notable. The lighting, character modeling and animation is the only true difference, but its hard to notice it with the same blurry screen-shake mechanics trying to infuse realism into the experience.
For those who like linear first-person shooters, German Shepherds, or pressing “X” to have the game played for them.
Blimey O’Riley (Pounce on 10 enemies whilst controlling Riley) – 10G
End of your rope (Cut a grappling hook rope with an enemy on it) – 20G