Call of Duty: Ghosts Review

Not the best Call of Duty experience but still a worthy entry in the long running franchise.

The strengths of any first-person-shooter has never resided in its campaign mode, even if it tries to emphasize it through trailers and the like. Although most people don’t initially play the single player campaign and head straight into the multiplayer portion of the game, it has to be said that it’s worth checking out. Call of Duty: Ghosts’ story revolves around the main character named Logan and his brother and father. Joining these three military rough necks is their pet dog Riley who you get take control of during the course of the game.

Call of Duty: Ghosts is no different from other shooters in the sense that the single player campaign is not where its heart is. But the strong and compelling story it aims to tell along with the introduction of its furry companion, attempts to provide a reason to play it. Riley, the newest addition to the Call of Duty series is a military dog that joins you throughout the length of the game. It’s ride or die and together we fall as one. While you get the feeling that the goal here is to get you attached to the little guy, I didn’t quite feel it.

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Regardless of the software used to develop the game this is in fact the best looking Call of Duty to date, and still runs at a solid sixty frames-per second.

Certain scenes in the game such as an attacking pack of wolves gives you a sense of protection and partnership but its never a real attachment. Halfway through the game the story begans to fall short of its narrative, and the focus I initially had from the beginning had vanished. Is it just me or is it a little odd that the game is titled Ghosts, the dog’s name is Riley, and a key character in one of the earlier games Modern Warfare 2 is named Simon “Ghost” Riley? Something to think on.

Over the past few months leading up to the launch of the game there has been an ongoing controversy regarding how the game will look across the now expanded number of systems. There’s also been a lot misunderstood talk going around about the engine that the game is said to be running on. Gamers aren’t sure whether it’s a an entirely new engine or a modified version of the current engine, that the Call of Duty series has been using in its previous games.

While I personally don’t consider this an important aspect of the game itself or something worth paying attention to, it has been a major topic of discussion and something the developers may want to take into account when moving onto future titles. Regardless of the software used to develop the game this is in fact the best looking Call of Duty to date, and still runs at a solid sixty frames-per second.

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The series has always placed an enormous focus on its maps, and with each new addition be they downloadable content or sequels, it manages to remain fresh and present something new.

Call of Duty:Ghosts feels like the most accessible Call of Duty game in years and with that being said, fans will undoubtedly like it and newcomers or doubters may find their place here. Moving into the next-generation of consoles with a game that crosses with the current-gen is a tricky task to balance out, when it comes to features and game implementations. The Xbox 360 version however doesn’t feel gimped or skipper over in anyway, and despite holding a lower resolution and graphical fidelity than that of the next-gen consoles, and even more so to that of the PC, the core game-play mechanics remain the same.

Call of Duty has a knack for hanging onto specific things and refuses to interrupt the core of what establishes its identity. One of these things is its control scheme. The series has never had the need nor do its fans desire any change in its control scheme. It does however introduce a lean mechanic and this allows you to fire your weapons at an angle, over and around obstacles. The series has an interesting way of adding new features and mechanics without hurting the core values of what makes it distinct from other shooters. However the missing option to toggle the aim-assist felt like I was being hand-held through the game, and I could imagine this to be quite insulting to professional players, regardless if you’re playing with a control pad or not.

Call of Duty has always remained strong contender in the first person-shooter genre partly because of its arcade-style fun factor that’s both accessible and addictive. But more so because of level of genius within its creation of map design. The series has always placed an enormous focus on its maps, and with each new addition be they downloadable content or sequels, it manages to remain fresh and present something new.

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Maps are now larger in scale, possess more environmental assets to liven things up, and deliver a new found sense of verticality to its levels.

This is no different in Ghosts and in more ways than one it feels like the first game in the series since Modern Warfare 2, to truly innovate and change things up. Call of Duty often gets bad credit by those who dislike the series for being the same game every year. While this is by no means a bad thing if you follow the ideology of “If it’s not broke then don’t fix it” this can be a bad thing for bringing in a new audience and keeping the ones you already have.

Where Ghosts succeeds in keeping its core audience and hopefully bringing in more lies in its new approach to map design. It’s hard to keep things similar enough that your core audience doesn’t despise you, yet improving upon it to appeal to newcomers, but Call of Duty: Ghosts may have a fair shot of pulling this off. Maps are now larger in scale, possess more environmental assets to liven things up, and deliver a new found sense of verticality to its levels. While this isn’t present in every level it’s enough to expand on its past designs, which have followed its own traditional approach of mostly flat and one-dimensional leveled combat. Another new implementation to its multiplayer is the dynamic map features.

Players are now able to reshape certain maps by triggering environmental cues at specific timings and locations. While one may think of this as just another perk or a “Super Kill streak”,  it’s far from it. Dynamic map events such as blowing up a gas station or bring down a building are available to every player. In doing so they reshape the environment and cause a change in gameplay where earlier tactics and routes may not be available anymore.

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Call of Duty: Ghosts certainly lives upto expectations and fans of the series will undoubtedly fall in love with it. But if the series hopes to push and hold its crown as the most favored shooter going into next-gen, certain changes will have to be undergone.

The only grief this caused me was my curiosity when first going into the game, as I was hoping to select a match where this is a reoccurring factor. But since the menu doesn’t specify or categorize itself in such a way, it boils down to search and find during the match. Now while a lot of people will be drawing comparisons to the Levolution feature in Battlefield 4 it should be noted that this is not the kind of extremes or level design that Call of Duty is aiming for.

Battlefield is known for being more open spaced in order to keep its combat at a level of engagement, that uses more tactical objectives, and a mix of both slow and fast paced enemy shoot-outs. Call of Duty has never aimed for this and stays on the line of continuous adrenaline and fast paced enemy engagement, that involves smaller arena based maps. So the comparisons that may be given to the dynamic map features and that of Levolution strictly don’t apply here.

Call of Duty:Ghosts brings back traditional game modes that all first person shooters rely on. Free for all, team death match, domination, are all prevalent here, and while it doesn’t do much to introduce anything that can be considered new. Modes such as Infection and extinction help keep it on its toes when the need for something new is kind of a rare factor within this genre. Other additions such as Cranked and Grind share similarities with existing modes but do well to distinguish themselves as something new and are a joy to play.

The option to take part in split screen matches both online and offline provides a sense of co-operative options that games in the past have lacked. Playing with a friend offline against bots allow you to have a great time and get in some practice. The bots in Call of Duty: Ghosts are some of the best and challenging A.I. around and no longer do they simply give the impression of pre-defined actions that are placed on repeat. Along with the ability to set and save your own map parameters and configurations, which help in killing time when you just want to jump in and practice. Navigating menus is fast and streamlined and lets you dive into the action quickly.

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A strong level of customization invigorates the franchise and allows it to feel more accessible and fresh, while at the same time allowing the player to feel more immersed. No longer do you feel like a randomly selected toy in a playing field where everybody is essentially the same. Your personal input into your character regardless if you can see him or her allows a level of input that let’s you truly embody your avatar. The choice to play as a female solider doesn’t cause any change in physical attributes in the case of gameplay, it’s only for aesthetic purposes. New weapon additions and tweaks to their structure combined with customization add to the overall feeling of player choice and creation feeling important.

Call of Duty: Ghosts certainly lives upto expectations and fans of the series will undoubtedly fall in love with it. But if the series hopes to push and hold its crown as the most favored shooter going into next-gen, certain changes will have to be undergone.

This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.

The Good

Improvements in an un-matchable multiplayer experience and new gameplay mechanics keep things from going stale.

The bad

Choice to play as a female solider does not add anything new and a weak storyline hold the series back from moving forward.

FINAL VERDICT

An addictive multiplayer and an improvement in gameplay mechanics are the only support structures keeping the series up high.


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