Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One
Call of Duty has shown no signs of slowing down. The annualized shooter franchise is one of the most popular games ever year, and it's no different this time. This year, Infinity Ward are under the spotlight, returning with a familiar package that we've come to expect from the series nowadays. It wouldn't be Call of Duty without an action-packed campaign, containing tons of spectacular set pieces. It's all here, and although it may be more of the same, it's certainly one of the most enjoyable packages for quite some time. Of course, multiplayer is the main attraction. It's were most people invest their time and money, and it will be the same with Ghosts.
While still keeping the trusted formula, Infinity Ward have developed a brand new engine. Just in time for the new console generation, the engine showcases sharper visuals, along with smoother frame rates on Xbox One. There's also an added lean ability, allowing you to pop in and out from cover. It serves it's purpose, but its not so much a groundbreaking feature. For the most part, Ghosts feels like a missed opportunity when it comes to next-gen. The visuals are performances are improved, but it's nothing mind-blowing. You do notice a step up, but that's all it is, more of a step than a giant leap.
With Ghosts, Infinity Ward finally leaves behind the Modern Warfare setting. There's no continuation to MW3, nor do you hear or see any familiar characters. This is an entirely new premise, taking place in 2023. The United States are no longer a powerful nation. An Orbital Defense Initiative (ODEN) is hijacked by the Federation, then used to attack several cities across the United States. It's an interesting scenario, and it does make a change to be playing as the weaker nation. The game follows two younger brothers, Logan and Hesh, who eventually join a Ghost Team, a force of U.S. Special Operations specially trained to conduct clandestine missions behind enemy lines. The team is lead by their father, Elias Walker, a retired U.S. Army Captain. With their help, they must battle the Federation, and help reclaim their fallen nation. It's a simple plot of survival, and the characters are rather forgettable, but that's not to say the campaign isn't worth a run through.
The campaign is packed with some spectacular looking set pieces. These are some of the most memorable in along time. Whether it's a zero-g firefight in space, rappelling along a skyscraper, or shoot-out underwater. It's extremely varied, and you can see that Infinity Ward have tried to pack as much verity they can in the story. This does produce an inconsistency, though, and sometime it feels like they were simply added just for the sake of it. However, it shouldn't stop you enjoying the campaign. It may be ridiculously over-the-top, but Ghosts immediately knows that and simply goes with the flow. If your simply looking for a five hour solo experience containing plenty of thrilling set pieces, this will certainly tick the right boxes.
Along for the ride is a German shepherd, named Riley. Infinity Ward have boasted about him for a while, and although he's impressively modelled, he doesn't play much of a role. Throughout the campaign, you'll take control of Riley, which is viewed from a camera feed strapped to his body. These moments play out as small stealth sections, which may require you to collect intelligence. It's most fun when stalking your foes across the terrain, then going in for the kill. It's a nice change of pace, but they only crop up on a few occasions. The only other instances where Riley plays a part in gameplay is when commanding him. Occasionally, you can aim at distant enemies, then tell Riley to take them out. Watching Riley move throughout the environment is realistically impressive. However, he seems more of a gimmick, rather than anything else.
Multiplayer is also back, and this time it's bigger than ever. The ranking system is as expected, providing a collection of familiar attachments and perks, unlocked by levelling up. It works just like previous entries, but there are some new additions that really stand out. One of the newest features is Create-a-Solider, allowing you to select each of your load-outs with male or female characters. Each character can be customized, allowing you to change their clothing, facial appearance and equipment. It's a great upgrade from the standard load-out system, and hopefully it will become more popular in future titles.
Most of the popular game modes return. From standard and team deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Headquarters, and Search and destroy. It's all here, but a few new modes are introduced. Cranked is one of them. In this mode, two teams are competing against each other, just like a standard team death-match. However, every kill you receive earns you a Cranked bonus. This provides you with special aids, such as faster reloading and sprint. The catch is, you only have thirty seconds to kill again. If you manage to kill then the time resets. Fail to perform a kill, however, and you will explode and die. It's a great adrenaline-filled mode, and one that I hope sticks around for a few more year's.
The maps are well designed, providing lots of shortcuts and vantage points. Each one is extremely vast, however, there's no smaller variants. This can lead to many game modes feeling rather empty, such as a standard team-death match. It can take a while before you find an enemy. Game modes with larger player counts, such as Domination, feel far more suited. It becomes more frantic, which is something multiplayer has always been. Some may find the lack of smaller maps disappointing, but it can be just as addictive. Hopefully the future DLC will provide smaller environments for those who prefer tighter, frantic shoot-outs.
Extinction is another newly introduced mode. Replacing the famous Zombie horde mode, which had you fighting waves of undead with three other co-op friends, Extinction is all about surviving aliens. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, you and three other friends must simply survive countless waves of aliens. You must also destroy alien hives, and scavenge for search piles, which can hold useful resources, such as equipment Along the way you will earn cash, allowing you to purchase new weapons, attachments or perks. It's a great upgrade from Zombies, and one mode you could find yourself spending a lot of time with.
Call of Duty : Ghosts is a decent entry to the long running franchise. It does feel like more of the same, but the new features should keep your interest till next year's instalment. Create-a-Soldier and Extinction are welcoming additions, and multiplayer is just as addictive. If you've played ever previous title and not got bored of it's competitive multiplayer, Ghosts should satisfy just the same.
Reviewed on Xbox One