iReview – CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS – Stop. Shoot. Stop. Shoot.

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
Publisher: Activision
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.

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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.

Everything is exactly the same!

Everything is exactly the same!

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.

...Only now they've added a dog!

…Only now they’ve added a dog!

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’slevelution”. 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.

With Call of Duty's new engine, you'll have fish move away from you when you get close to them.

With Call of Duty’s new engine, you’ll have fish move away from you when you get close to them.

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.

Notable Achievements:
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

-iRogan

ACHIEVEMENT OF THE WEEK – Call of Duty Ghosts

This week’s Achievement of the Week goes to Call of Duty Ghosts, a game I completed a couple of weeks ago, late, and well past its relevancy, I know.

That’s my thing.

This game takes a little bit of a different route to its achievements than its predecessors. Previous games had an individual achievement for each mission, a veteran difficulty specific achievement for each level grouping, and usually a few skill based achievement (kill so many people in a row with a knife, or 5 guys simultaneously with a grenade).

This time around, each level has 1 or 2 unique achievements, and does away with the Veteran difficult achievements. It’s nice to see they’re not going with the same old tiresome routine. And I’m always glad that they exclude the multiplayer achievements, but this time around they included so new gameplay modes.


I’ve jumped back into the game to wrap up some of the achievements I had missed, and I’ll also be posting the review for Ghosts on Thursday.

So I present my choice for my Achievement of the Week from Call of Duty Ghosts:

Carbon_Faceprint_CoDGCarbon Faceprint – 10G
Catch the photocopier with your face

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On Mission: Federation Day, after repelling out of the building for the 3rd segment, and enemy will trow a photocopier out the window. Just catch it with your face.

I found this achievement pretty funny in name and concept. It’s not necessarily something you’d unlock naturally either.


New news tomorrow, and then the rest of the week happens. See you when I see you.

-iRogan

Day 3: iReview: TITANFALL

The Titanfall we received in March, 2014 is not the same Titanfall we play today. Today’s Titanfall is what we should have received many months ago.

Taking a few steps back in time here, Titanfall is Jason West and Vince Zampella’s new baby, developed by their newly formed company Respawn Entertainment after a fall-out with Activision over Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. They had a nasty, public break-up. Look it up.

West and Zampella left / got fired, along with most of the key Infinity Ward staff, and created Respawn Entertainment, decided to make a game in the genre they helped mold, and signed a deal with EA and Microsoft to publish Titanfall, an online only FPS, with humans and mechs.

I am Titan's favourite sidearm.

I am Titan’s favourite sidearm.

Titanfall is, at its most basic, a 6 vs. 6 team based first person shooter.

We play as a Pilot, a free-running foot soldier. We’re equipped with a primary weapon, secondary weapon, and an anti-Titan weapon, along with some other offensive and defensive tools, and perks. We’re also equipped with a jet-pack that allows us to double-jump, wall run and scale walls, all very fluid-like.

As a Pilot, we also have a handy companion in the Titan, an agile mech-style exoskeleton. The Titans are deployed into the battlefield from the sky at the request of their Pilot. The deployment is timer based, and the timer can be reduced through the in-game actions of the Pilot through kills. As the Pilot, we also have the ability to ride on friendly Titans, or jump on the backs of enemy Titans and shoot away at their core components. The Pilot’s class and load-out is fully customizable before the match starts.

The Titans can be AI controlled, either through a “guard” or “follow” command, or they can be player controlled once the Pilot steps inside. Pilots can get out whenever they see fit. It’s all very quick and seamless. When piloting the Titan, however, if the Titan is doomed, the Pilot can eject 100’s of feet in the air to escape the blast, and live to continue the fight. The Titan’s are equipped with an anti-personnel weapon, and anti-Titan weapon, as well as some defensive tools and core power-ups. The Titans are not as fast as their Pilot counterpart, but they’re not sluggish either. There are 3 classes of Titan ranging in size, speed and armour, and their load-out is also fully customizable before the match starts.

The battlefield is also scattered with AI soldiers running around, designed as human player competition and support. En masse, they’re a distraction.

Striving to push the genre forward, Titanfall has a nifty feature in Burn Cards. As a Pilot, we earn these disposable game-changers through unlocked challenged and purchases through the in-game store, which, thankfully, does not support real currency. These Burn Cards can be equipped in 3’s and are used once per life, then they’re gone, hence the name. Some allow for added agility to the Pilot, offensive possibilities for the Titan and Pilot alike, such as modified or boosted weapons, unlimited grenades, and some allow for more defensive perks, like upgraded mini-map, unlimited invisibility, or x-ray vision.

The gameplay itself is very fast paced, and a blast to take part in. With the Pilot’s ability to combine wall-running, gliding along ziplines, scaling walls, and vaulting over obstacles, it’s easy to lose track of the team you were following. Add in the distraction of the AI soldiers with you, or against, and Titans strolling through, it can be a lot to take in. I repeat, it’s very fun.

That being said, going back to my introductory statement – only with the addition of the 3 DLC packs (9 maps) and the newly added Frontier Defence (Co-op Horde mode), is Titanfall feeling like a complete title.

Out of the box we got 15 maps, and 5 game modes. In Attrition, teams compete for the greatest kill count, bots included. Pilot Hunter is similar to Attrition, but only Pilot kills count. Hardpoint Domination is a Capture and Defend objective-based mode. Last Titan Standing has everyone begin the match in a Titan; the team with the last Titan standing wins the round. And Capture the Flag – self explanatory.

The game also has a “campaign”, if you can call it that. There are two factions, Militia and IMC, obviously at odds with each other. In the campaign, we choose a faction and play through a series of maps and gameplay modes. Still online, still 6 vs. 6. The only difference is that each match has a few single-player story elements, such as cinematic sequences, and some narrator dialogue. Some key characters carry over from mission to mission to supplement the story.

Mind, THAT campaign is as it was in March. Now with the DLC out, the campaign is an afterthought. Factions and maps are randomly chosen when you enter the mode.

Just Call of Duty with Mechs

Just Call of Duty with Mechs

Graphically the game holds its own as a first generation Xbox One title. It should be considered as launch title quality, albeit 5 months late. The game is a minor step up on the previous generation’s hardware; however, as it runs at a very quick pace, some forgiveness can be given. Standard game textures, and static lighting are its biggest detractors, along with static maps with no level of destruction. Like the team’s previous Call of Duty games, there’s a lot of artifacts and debris that flies around, but that’s only for aesthetics.

Following the release of the game, I had a lot more complaints that I do not still share today. To be honest, I don’t gravitate towards online multiplayer shooters. I prefer to stay content in the single-player package. This game strove to change me, to drive me out of the comfort zone. And for the most part it succeeded. I very much enjoy the Titanfall package available today with its DLC maps and additional game modes, and co-op element. Today the game feels like a complete package.

I would not consider Titanfall to be the “next big thing” that EA and Microsoft were selling, but it does invigorate the genre. Watching the Titan’s blast from space into the atmosphere and come crashing down to the Earth is, and will remain a thrill every time. The game is fresh and innovative in its parkour elements that recent shooters are only now mimicking.

The game is also exciting and very chaotic at times, especially when multiple Titans converge on one crossroad. The AI soldiers populating the map definitely give the game the feeling that a larger battle is happening, even though the AI themselves will slow you down no more than a bug does a bug-zapper.

Worthy of the praise, but it’s more a step forward, than a leap.

For those who like FPS’s, parkour, jet-packs, and getting stepped on by very large robots.
Also available on the XBox 360 (Ported by different Dev) and the PC.

Notable Achievements:

Death From above (Killed 5 enemies by dropping a Titan on them) – 15G
Look Around (Snapped the necks of 10 Pilots) 10G