Another year, another shooter. Well, I should say THE shooter. Activision are back with their yearly release for the smash-hit series known as Call of Duty. The series has reinvigorated itself with a new tale to tell (finally) about a group of men known as the Ghosts. The game is conveniently called Call of Duty: Ghosts. Let’s not sugar-coat things here, the general public is getting more and more aggravated with what they feel is a copy and paste effort year after year. Call of Duty: Ghosts however, is the most unique CoD game yet. Let’s be honest here, Call of Duty is more than just a game. It’s an absolute media monster. Year after year it becomes the most talked about thing in entertainment. You’ve heard of Call of Duty, whether you’re a die-hard fan or just a person that heard Mickey Rourke’s hilarious “Call at Duty” line in The Wrestler. They could churn out the exact same thing every year and make billions, so I certainly applaud the efforts done here. Let’s read on and find out what the fuss is all about
Let’s kick it off with the campaign. For any Call of Duty game, I feel that the comparison needs to be made with what I believe to be the best story in the series. The original Black Ops. Now this doesn’t measure up at all in that sense. The story is really simple to follow, and I’d equate it to a very good, memorable action flick. You play as the protagonist, Logan Walker. He’s a man that is seemingly a mute. His brother Hesh does all the talking for him. You may recognise Hesh’s distinctive voice. I myself was very curious and had to look it up. Brandon Routh, the Scott Pilgrim and Superman star is the voice behind the microphone for this one. These brothers are out in the woods with Elias, their father when tremors start to ruffle their feathers. It turns out that a space-based weapon known as ODIN is firing rockets down at their home. This is where we promptly fast forward some years to a post-apocalyptic setting. That’s right, Call of Duty has for the first time dived into the fallout of an apocalyptic event. It’s a bold choice that I feel works. The brothers are now full-on hardened ‘army men’ whose purpose is to fight The Federation. The Federation are responsible for the ODIN attacks, and are the baddies of this story. Sent by dear old dad into no-man’s land, this is where they first encounter the Ghosts. Ghosts are something of an urban legend, whispers in the wind that carry out any task with such precision that it seems as though there is something supernatural about it. There is a reason they are sent out to scout The Federation and hook up with the Ghosts, one that I shant spoil for you good people. But I assure you, it’s nothing spectacular. The glitz of the campaign comes from the sheer Hollywood style blockbuster feel to it. It has all the explosions and gruff male machismo of a Schwarzenegger movie.
I can’t talk about the campaign without talking about Riley. The wonderful little German Shepherd. He was such a huge part of the marketing campaign, that it would be a crime to leave him out. A lot of people weren’t sold on Riley. Calling him nothing more than a gimmick to sell the game. I can assure all of you good folks, he is nothing of the sort. Riley is hands down the best and most human part of the game. In fact, I’d go as far as to say he’s really not in enough of it. Using Riley’s stealth to trawl through foliage and pounce at an enemy’s neck is particularly satisfying. There is one scene where you’re simply driving through the base and Riley is hanging out the top of the car. Seeing the soldiers react to and greet Riley is actually quite heart-warming. Riley is the best part of this game, and should’ve been in a lot more of it. ‘Call of Dog’, indeed.
Graphically I would say that Ghosts is a lot more refined than previous Call of Duty games. Backdrops look all the more sweeter and the wide views of locations are really quite beautiful. But I still can’t help but feel that Ghosts is severely let down by the current generation of consoles. I need to see those hairy arms from the Xbox One reveal. I personally cannot wait to see how the game looks and feels on the next generation as I was both surprised and let down by the graphical output on the 360. This is merely a person longing for his next-gen fix, however. I believe that Infinity Ward have pushed the envelope to the maximum for this in terms of how it looks.
Treyarch have been revelling in the response to their famous Nazi Zombie mode. Infinity Ward did have Spec Ops mode, but it never quite reached the fandom of the walking dead. I really think Infinity Ward have hit the nail on the head here though with Extinction Mode. It is almost a carbon copy of Zombie Mode, but with aliens. Disgusting bug-like aliens. You start off with a team of four, grab a drill that’s dropped off to you, and use that drill to take out alien hives while you fight off hordes of beasts from another world until you get to move on to the next area. You’ve got to look at this from my perspective. I absolutely cannot stand the Nazi Zombie mode. I never saw a point to endlessly shooting these things, until they fall down. Forever. Or until you die. But Extinction Mode is pure unadulterated fun. There’s even a $6000 limit so that you are forced to spend your money to make money. This keeps it fresh and forever fun. Extinction mode gets a huge thumbs up from me and has even had me quoting Starship Troopers on a regular basis.
It’s time for the nitty-gritty. The multiplayer, where you and millions of other will no doubt spend the majority of your time. I’m going to throw the annoying parts of multiplayer out from the get-go, that will leave room for positivity to take centre stage here. It seems that lag compensation is as present in this iteration as it always has been in the Call of Duty franchise. You all know about lag compensation. It’s taking one bullet to die, but seeing that you actually took five when you watch the killcam. It’s running around a corner and being home free, then seeing that what actually happened is you were killed before you ever hit that corner. This horrible experience is making me yearn for those dedicated servers that we were promised. Thankfully, Infinity Ward say that they are rolling those out over time. Quick-scoping is still a thing, god knows why. You still have your John Rambos running around and treating a sniper rifle like their own personal sawn-off. Lag compensation aside, anything negative I have to say about the online aspect of the game is down to the community themselves (those scumbags), and is certainly not the fault of Infinity Ward.
Well there’s the bad, how about some good news. We have new game modes. There’s Cranked, a hilarious game mode that sees you kill an enemy, then gives you 30 seconds to kill another before you explode. This mode completely negates camping which is a breath of fresh air for a care-free run ‘n’ gunner like myself. Blitz sees an objective zone at an enemy base, you need to enter this base to earn points, the longer you stay, the more points you earn. Infected is another bag of fun, you eliminate survivors, they become infected. You infect everyone or survive to win. Any Halo player will tell you how much fun this is. Search and Rescue is my favourite new addition to the game though. It’s just search and destroy, but you collect enemy Dog Tags to stop them from respawning. If your enemy team collects one of their comrade’s tags, they’ll respawn. This adds some technique to S&D and once again attempts to negate camping. The usual suspects make a comeback; modes such as Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Domination, and Free-for-all are all here to make for a well-rounded online experience.
In summary, Call of Duty: Ghosts is a welcome addition to the series. I feel that Black Ops 2 really let the team down and that this is a return to good quality gaming. The campaign’s story feels somewhat lacklustre, but completely makes up for it with spectacular gameplay. The ‘dog’ is an amazing addition; the net trolls will be pleasantly surprised themselves. Extinction Mode will keep you raging and laughing for hours upon hours, and finally the online. Aside from some niggling issues that I currently have, I am well within my rights to believe that the next-generation Ghosts will completely remedy all of my personal issues, and I can’t wait to upgrade.