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Call of Duty: Ghosts

By JcDent29-12-2013
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Bobfish (editor)
Call of Duty: Ghosts

The Defence

Infinity Ward
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core i5 3.6GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
AMD Radeon HD 7950
8 GB
40 GB

The Case

A long, long time ago, the enemies in Call of Duty were the Nazis and the games were all well and good, light on the plot (“WWII”, how much plot do you need?) and mostly free from the arcadey-er trappings of the day. Since then the series leaped into the modern era with the excellent Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, after which the quality of things became debatable. With Call of Duty: Ghosts, we leap into the near future and see if it can offer more than grim darkness.

The Trial

While some of the most rabid Call of Duty fans would argue that the campaign doesn't matter, they can shut their dirty, YouTube commenter mouths - the campaign was always the most advertised feature of Call of Duty and it was what attracted people to Call of Duty 4. So, what do we have this time? In the near future/alternate universe of Ghosts, the Middle East took an explosive exit from the world scene, which prompted the formation of the Federation in South America. Despite its domination of the world energy market, things went south pretty fast, shots got fired, American orbital weapon arrays were taken over...and after a brief kinetic bombardment of the States, the Federation launched an invasion which stalled for ten years. This is where Logan and his family enter the fray.

Those SC-2010 can be tricky, that's why I check the mag every time I pick that rifle of the ground.

Those SC-2010 can be tricky, that's why I check the mag every time I pick that rifle of the ground.

And boy is the campaign silly. Now, the easy joke to make here is that the Federation capitalizes on current American fears of being overrun by Mexicans. Still, America is, like our non-alternative universe, our last best hope for peace and this lion of a warmachine managed to hold off a superior enemy for ten years. The notion of two world powers getting into an active war that somehow grinds on to last more than the last two World War put together is no more ridiculous than one superpower attacking another one for no reason. Or the fact that the titular Ghosts - spec ops troops and huge fans of Modern Warfar 2’s Ghost - end the conflict in a year without even trying to do it.

The missions themselves are largely disappointing. Maps are more linear and constrained than ever before - which is even more obvious when you remember the days when Call of Duty had radar. They are numerous, but short, mostly taking place in uninspired, drab colored locations. Only space sections show something new and visually exciting. Even the vehicle sections are not involving: the inexhaustible supply of missiles breaks immersion in the helicopter segment while the tank missions start with horrible handling and improve none later on.

The variety of weapons is surprisingly and disappointingly scarce. And of those, none are exactly memorable or exceedingly fun to use. While the introduction of AK-12 (the newest incarnation of AK-47) is laudable, especially considering that in MW2 the Russians invaded the US with no longer issued AK-47s, it, like most others, lacks identity, punch and oomph. And the effort to give us Battlefield style knife executions is stillborn at best. Meanwhile Riley, the oft taunted dog companion, shares the fate with sand effects with Spec Ops: The Line: it’s a gimmick and disappears from the game in the first third. With it goes any chance of having relatable characters as all the humans are just loudspeakers for crying hosanna for the Ghost. They are, by the game’s standarts, the most important people of the world, overshadowing in the USA, the blind praise of which is a criticism often aimed at the modern military shooter.

Such interactivity, such stealth, tactical doge, wow.

Such interactivity, such stealth, tactical doge, wow.

That said, multiplayer! First, let me start by saying that I like both Battlefield and Call of Duty, but for different reasons. Call of Duty usually delivered the campaign, the military story and authenticity that is unavailable when playing with other. Now, for multiplayer, I prefer Battlefield - bigger maps, more realistic guns (of course, nobody is talking ARMA here), vehicles and overall slower pace of action caught my eye... But some people prefer the twitch shooter action that isn't marred by, say, snipers. Well, from the screams of some hardcore Call of Duty fans on my Skype, I came to realize that multiplayer somehow changed for the worse. Well, twitch shooting is still here: 9 out of 10 still run around with an assault rifle or an SMG and by the time you hear someone shooting at you, you're usually already dead. Maps are somewhat bigger than in Black Ops, but people now seem to be encouraged to camp more and run around less. Kind of makes sense. Most killcams I saw showed me running into the weapon sights of some SMG totting guy – basically, an instant kill area. So if you don't run around, you can avoid running into people and have a drop on those that are more mobile.

This persists over most of the multiplayer modes – or at least the ones that people play. Team Deathmatch is taking the lead, with others claiming people depending on the time of the day. Domination is a somewhat Battlefield-ish taking of map points, Search and Rescue is Counter Strike's bomb mode with a twist (you need to collect ally dog tags for them to respawn!), Cranked is about killing people fast lest you self destruct (and is probably the least popular mode). Mostly it's running around and killing people. Co-operation isn't really necessary but encouraged (because two SMGs are better than one).

Now character creation is definitely...something. Create a Solder is similar to Black Ops 2, in that it awards unlock points for experience and you can use them to unlock different weapons, upgrades, perks and soldiers. That last part is important: when you create a soldier, you're given a choice of class, which determines which sort of unlocked and upgraded primary weapon and perks you'll have at the start. You needn't worry if you made the wrong choice (read: “picked something other than Assault or CQB”) because every class also gets the same freebie assault rifle and SMG. You know, just in case you realize that you're playing a sniper in shoebox sized maps where people can kill you in the blink of an eye. Knowing that I stand no chance anyways, I played mostly as a machine gunner that couldn't go into iron sights and had an underbarrel grenade launcher.

Battlefield has sweet stabbing animation, so why not half ass copy it our game?

Battlefield has sweet stabbing animation, so why not half ass copy it our game?

Perks, on the other hand, are more interesting because each one of them is worth a certain amount of points, so you can build and fine tune your collection for your soldier. You can get a few strong ones or a motley collection of weaker ones, like some Spec Ops murder hobo. While I didn't find them too important (it's hard, what with all the blink kills) it's an interesting feature. So much so that the third type of killstreak just gives you more perks as you kill-streak-up. The other two killstreaks are offensive and defensive types: the first one is about rewards that focus on killing, but your streak stack disappears if you die, and the second is more about support powers and retaining streaks after death. It all boils down to a boat load of SatCom stations everywhere, quite a few dogs (I mean, they barely used him in the campaign, they had to find somewhere to put him) and maybe a helicopter or two.

Things take a turn for the strange with Squads mode and Extinction. For starters, remember how I mentioned perks and guns unlocked depending on class choice? Well, they don't translate between different “soldiers”, so you unlock a few of them to experiment with and maybe level up (doubtful – seeing so many level 70 characters suggest that most people stick with one). In squad mode, all those named troopers become your bots... and that's basically it. Your custom posse of leveled-up bots against other bots – sometimes without other human players! There's also one strange mode where you and several other players are put in a map and defend against waves of “infected” and Enforcers. The only thing this has in common with Squads is that you’re playing against bots. But Squads sounds way cooler than “Play with Bots”, so that's what we have.

Extinction is CoD Zombies without zombies. The gameplay is almost identical except for the fact that most of the time the objective is to guard a drill while it destroys an alien hive (at this point Firefall players will roll their eyes and go back to defending Thumpers) and you have to aim higher to account for the fact that aliens are quadrupedal little monsters and not humanoid zombies. You can upgrade skills in match or find upgrades for equipped weapons, but that's that. While the aliens pose some unique challenges – such as having unbreachable, armored parts - it's mostly Zombies for people who don't want to be boarded up in a building. One horrible segment of it forces your characters to halt near a (climbable looking) barrier hive that a helicopter has to clean out with machineguns and this is even more boring than it sounds, dragging on for far too long. Whilst you wait you also see way too many aliens jump to predefined locations in the scenery. At least there are interesting hazards that you can unlock with the in match cash!

Remember kids, dressing up as the enemy soldiers is only illegal when the bad guy does it!

Remember kids, dressing up as the enemy soldiers is only illegal when the bad guy does it!

Right, now for the traditional “I ran out of things to say, so visuals” part. Ghosts is a surprisingly ugly game. It might have its moments and the more tactical Federation soldiers look extremely cool, but everything else is an ugly mess of outdated graphics. This is especially prominent in the first levels, which demonstrate that the level artists tend to think that complaints about modern military FPS being all grey and brown are voiced because people hate brown. That's why a lot of the early levels are as grey as the hearts of AAA publishers. And then you get to explode a car or two, and the visuals get even worse. They somehow bungle up the “I'm an untouchable sky killer” parts. Commanding kinetic orbital weapons never felt so uninvolved or impactless. Really, only the brief jungle and helicopter sections and rare stints in space provide any real eye candy, everything else being between “boring” and “ugly”. Remember, you really can't say that “graphics don't matter” anymore. Not when FPSs are sold on spectacle and not on plot or gameplay. At least the audio isn't bad – which is easy, what with most sounds being inherited from previous entries in the series– though the main score has nothing on Black Ops 2. Which also was a magnificently ugly game by the way. The most interesting fusion between the sound and visual are the loading screens. If you remember Price’s rant about the rocks and sand of Afghanistan remembering the battles fought there, you will love the rants about the importance of Ghosts that are presented with a backdrop of oil-crystal abstract visualisations of whatever the characters are talking about.

The Verdict

Call of Duty: Ghosts is probably a good game for a person who is already doubting the moral integrity of my mother as well as my heterosexuality and credentials as both gamer and a video game critic. The truth is that Call of Duty: Ghosts is itself a poor Call of Duty clone. Its saving merit is that in the day and age where some publishers present “patching and support after launch” as a feature and were constantly plagued by bugged AAA releases, Call of Duty: Ghosts came out working almost perfectly. Too bad it’s wasted on such a mediocre game.

Case Review

  • It's Alive, ALIVE!: The game works and has less multiplayer issues than Battlefield.
  • That One Still Twitches: Still a twitch shooter, which is what fans want.
  • Plot? We Don't Need Plot Where We're Going: If you believe that Mexicans are stealing your job (right this moment), it's a game for you.
  • ”Variety Pack”: Multiplayer offers a lot of options – how good/different they are is up to you.
  • Extract THIS: Extraction is an interesting spin on zombies, but not more.
  • Suds Mode: Squads mode is a strange name for 'bots'.
  • FUBAR: The visuals are somewhat beyond redemption.
  • Old Yeller: Playing with a dog? No, not really.
Score: 3/5
Ghosts is but a spectre of its former glories.


Call of Duty is the titan of the industry that tries to capture more people’s attention each year while sticking to the same formula every time. With the end of the Modern Warfare era, we have the rise of Ghosts – a complete new universe where events of previous games didn’t happen. In the Ghosts universe, the new enemy is the “Federation”, a South American coalition of governments that seeks to destroy the USA. The backstory is very abstract and the main story, the rise of the newest super-elite unit of the Ghosts that must save the world (of USA), is full of inconsistencies and plot holes. The game’s highly taunted new features are very minor and far between, with fish AI failing to impress and leaving you wishing you could have used Riley, the likable dog companion, on few more missions. The campaign in general has you feeling that you’ve been there and done that, sometimes in other games where it was done better (tank battle, I am looking at you). With that said, the campaign is still fairly enjoyable throughout. The fight in space especially, was a nice touch.

The biggest thing CoD has going for it since the dawn of man is its multiplayer component. In Ghosts, it feels like a middle ground between Black Ops 2 and Modern Warfare 3. It’s not unexpected, as the series rarely deviated much from its formula, but it just doesn’t feel very good anymore. A lot of people felt like Call of Duty went downhill after the original Modern Warfare, but even those who enjoyed the overfocus on perks and unlocks, will likely not be impressed by Ghosts. It is hard to say what exactly makes it what it is, but there are many contributing factors. For starters the maps – they are bigger than before and - I can’t believe I’m saying this - they make the game worse. You’ll have matches where you barely see any action at all, and the level design encourages camping more than ever. You have to unlock new squad members in order to get new basic weapon loadouts, but once you gain a few more levels, it becomes absolutely redundant and considering that every member levels individually, it’s also a waste of time. The squad members can benefit from the “Squads” mode where you can fight against another squad with your and the enemy squads being controlled by AI. But it’s not that fun or easy and calls for some very frustrating moments. Just like regular multiplayer. Last but not least, there is an “Extinction” mode which is basically Treayarch’s Zombies mode with aliens. If you enjoyed Zombies, Extinction might be fun for a while with its one map, but for the rest of us it’s as repetitive as Zombies.

Ghosts is definitely not a bad game but it is the weakest Call of Duty in a long time. It is still riddled with bugs, stalked by campers and haunted by hackers. The campaign ends with a cheap cliffhanger that is probably even worse than Modern Warfare 2, and you will most likely walk away shaking your head in frustration. The game lacks MW 2’s entertaining Co-Op missions. The added extras don’t bring that much to the table and more often than not feel redundant. Other than that, it’s still a Call of Duty game with solid mechanics, snappy controls and a somewhat enjoyable, though rather unbelievable, campaign. If you enjoy Call of Duty solely for a single aspect of it, then my recommendation is to skip this year’s iteration. But if you like the overall experience CoD provides year in and year out, then feel free to pick it up. Just keep your expectations in check.

Score: 3.5/5
Comments (6)
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Posts: 3290

Well, I think this proves one thing as a dead cert. The games weren't crap because of Zenimax demanding a repetitive cashcow

Posts: 15

And I was expecting some innovation...now I feel silly.

Posts: 1548

My biggest wish is that they sold the MP and SP separately. I'd always buy the SP.

Posts: 12

Honestly, I don't think this deserves more than a 2, if I wanted what ghosts is I'd play Black Ops 1

Posts: 1548

I actually though that the game looked alright. Not the best looking game ever and probably no justification for such a high system requirements but it definitely looks better than its predecessors.

Posts: 3290

Still a better lovestory than Twilight. Though both do feature bestiality