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Call of Duty: Ghosts Review


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On 01/22/2014 at 12:00 PM by Jon Lewis

If Michael Bay made a video game, this would probably be it.
RECOMMENDATION:

For Call of Duty purists or someone who might have skipped the past couple of entries.

Call of Duty: Ghosts set out to be a fresh start for Infinity Ward. In some ways it is just that – Ghosts introduces a brand new story line that will undoubtedly take them a few titles to complete as well as a few game types in multiplayer that are new to the Call of Duty mold. When all is said and done though, this latest entry doesn’t draw me back to the series and if anything, it only proves why the formula has grown so stale over the past few years.

Even though I had multiple “been there, done that” moments, functionally the game operates much like the previous entries – a very good thing. The game still runs at a smooth frame rate, and manages to keep multiplayer matches fast paced and frantic. There’s still something very satisfying about getting a batch of well-placed kills.  Game types like Kill Confirmed and Search and Rescue are highlights, as they both provide just enough of a higher-level objective to go with the overwhelming itch to just shoot some enemies.

Ghosts introduces some new game types, like the previously mentioned Search and Rescue, a modified version of Search and Destroy. The spin in this mode is that, your team members can revive you if they recover your dog tags. There is also Cranked, a Statham-esque mode where after killing an enemy, you have thirty seconds to get another kill, or you explode. Cranked in particular is pretty fun, but I found the mode flawed. Maybe it was the skill level of the players in my lobby, but it seemed like everybody was getting killed way before the thirty seconds was up. The pressure from the timer ticking is quite a rush, but it's quickly diffused after being taken down seconds later.

Other than that, multiplayer also feels odd because of the new leveling and unlocking system. Ghosts employs a leveling system that allows you to unlock whatever guns, perks, or kill streaks you desire as long as you have the points to do so. This system is effective, as it allows players to carve their own play style, but it is a big shift from what we’re used to from the series.

One of the other new, yet smaller additions is the more wide open maps and the destructible levels. While not on the level of Battlefield, Ghosts has areas in most maps that alter the landscape in one way or another, whether by destroying a building or causing a massive explosion. In my experience, the destructible levels barely add anything to the gameplay, and might as well have been left out. Also, while the bigger maps were nice to explore from time to time, the fast pace of Call of Duty would have benefited from tighter, more condensed areas. I spent way too much time in matches simply looking around for opponents to shoot.

Complementing multiplayer mode this year is Extinction mode. Replacing Infinity Ward’s previous Spec-Ops game type, Extinction takes more cues from Zombies by placing up to four players against hordes of aliens. In some ways, I found Extinction to be the most enjoyable part of Ghosts, as teaming up with a bunch of friends always leads to a good time. While I still feel that there is more depth and personality to Zombies, Extinction was still fun.

Rounding out Ghosts is the requisite campaign mode. This four hour adventure puts you in the shoes of a soldier named Logan as he and his brother fight against an opposing force known as The Federation, which has taken over the United States after a huge terrorist attack at the beginning of the game. As expected, the Ghosts campaign is full of huge set pieces and action-packed sequences. I constantly felt like the game was trying to impress me and it did manage to succeed a little. That said, each successful sequence was forgotten after the next extreme incident played out, leading me to grow annoyed with how exaggerated every situation was. One mission towards the end was filled with so many explosions, I felt like I was part of a Michael Bay movie – not a good thing.

Many of the levels attempt to go big so often, but still devolve into shooting galleries that have minimal interest. One level in the game was so boring, that it actually put me to sleep. It’s ironic that with all of the attempts to stay visually appealing, I dozed off. In the end, the campaign came down to follow your squad, shoot the enemy, rinse and repeat.

Amazingly, I was impressed with the actual story. Ghosts manages to bring some characters and situations into the mix that I didn’t expect to be so interesting. The main enemy, Rorke, and the overarching narrative of the “Ghosts” and their significance did leave a lasting impression. The ending was a great set up for the next few games in the Ghosts series and I am definitely a bit curious to see how it shapes up.

In the end, I feel like Call of Duty: Ghosts is underwhelming, despite some promise sprinkled in. The campaign is good, but not great. Extinction mode is fun, but not as deep as it could be. Multiplayer has spots of fun, but is weaker overall and not as addictive as it has been in the past. As someone who has played at least a little of every Call of Duty title since Call of Duty 2, I find it hard to recommend Ghosts unless you need a Call of Duty fix every year or have skipped the past few entries and want to return to the same familiar formula. 

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Justin Matkowski Staff Alumnus

01/22/2014 at 03:28 PM

Great review, Jon. Your sentiments seem to echo my own; it seems that the CoD franchise has evolved into the gaming industry equivalent of the "Big Mac" - you know exactly what you're getting and it's a cash cow for the industry, but don't expect anything special. For me, the franchise is just kind of "there", and I would love for Activision to take some ballsy risks with the series (Revolutionary or Civil War might rekindle my interest), but I sadly don't see that coming with the amount of money that it continues to make them. At this point, it seems more likely they'll simply run the series into the ground and bleed it out fiscally before they take a bold risk to reinvent the series.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

01/22/2014 at 03:38 PM

Yeah. I agree, i think its time that they go back to pre-modern settings for their games. I mean, future wars are cool and all, but they are barely doing anything to make them seem much more fantastical than modern shooting you know? They really need to take some risks!

transmet2033

01/22/2014 at 03:46 PM

I have not played through a Call of Duty Campaign since CoD 2.  This game's campaign still had a been there, done that feel.  I played a bit of the multiplayer, but decided that it is not my thing.  I may not be great at multiplayer, but in other games I can typically break even when it comes to my K/D ratio.

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

01/22/2014 at 04:40 PM

Hey Jon, I really enjoyed the review.  I lost interest on most FPS like the CoD series because these developers are just trying waaay too hard to be all "actiony" where everything has to 'splode every 5 seconds.  No Thanks.

Rob DiMola Staff Alumnus

01/28/2014 at 08:02 PM

 I was really disappointed in this game. I honestly felt that the multiplayer was uneventful and very slow paced. I just couldn't get into it. I have logged weeks into Modern Warfare 2 & 3, but Ghosts just felt like it was missing something. Hopefully Titanfall will bring back some of what made Modern Warfare enjoyable to play. 

GrayHaired

02/02/2014 at 10:36 AM

I actually enjoyed the campaign and I think it is because it was the easiest COD I have ever played. I always play on the easiest settings and I just breezed through it. I went back and got a lot of the trophies and the Alien co-op is really fun.

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