Back with a bang and a vengeance, Call of Duty has launched alongside the Xbox One this week. For the first time in its history the same game is available on both a current and a next-gen console in the same year from the same development team. Call of Duty 2 was Infinity Ward’s launch title for the Xbox 360, whilst Treyarch developed Call of Duty 2: The Big Red One for Xbox Original (dare we say Xbox 1); eight years on the same core mechanics of the popular franchise has made its debut for 2013 with Call of Duty: Ghosts. Available now from the Xbox One games store and at retailers in the Xbox One launch markets.
Call of Duty: Ghosts on Xbox One feels upon first impressions like a complete refresh to the franchise; it is as if some of the futuristic and modern elements have been stripped bare from the game to give you a completely new start for the newer consoles. Gone are the big dramatic moments and over-the-top action sequences in favour for a subtle sci-fi themed story based around a tight knit family unit and the star of the game himself ‘Riley’, the well trained military dog who is quite handy at ripping the throat from unsuspecting near-by enemies! We’re sure you’ve heard of the famous canine addition to the game in the build up to release in the media, and in the game he has many uses. You can tag an enemy for him to grab, control his movements with an attached spy cam and have him as a handy companion in multiplayer through the Guard Dog KillStreak.
If you haven’t yet experienced Call of Duty: Ghosts because you are ‘still’ awaiting the arrival of your Xbox One, by a refresh I don’t mean that everything has changed – just subtle differences between past titles and Ghosts itself. No need to panic if you’re wondering if missions that involve following a tank and some huge skyscraper building collapses around you; those notable signature missions and sequence of in-game events since the birth of Call of Duty – they are still in there! (phew) Where Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare shaped the biggest change for the game in its entirety shifting players out of the World War II era, I’d like to say that Ghost’s has done the same with another risk on Infinity Ward’s part taking us out of the Modern Warfare scenes and into this newer Gears of War style war torn humanity-breaking environment, but it lacks the same magic and surprises that Modern Warfare had reducing the game now to an enjoyable experience, but a little too bland in some parts. Where you might be looking for innovation and a game changer, it’s just sadly not there. This is Call of Duty, but back to basics!
Despite a more simplistic presentation with a lack of HUD in campaign and the compass direction assist is not there anymore, the game doesn’t lack the majority of familiarity of the Call of Duty you’ll know and love already – it just feels slightly different and opens up potential for the player to explore more of a given area rather than just follow the line of sight and arrow directions. The intensity of some chapters that involve remaining stealthy could have your nerves in shatters with your lead character crawling slowly on the ground surrounded by a team of enemy soldiers; it’s like the famous Ghillies in the Mist sequence (you should be ashamed if you don’t know that scene) but more tense and on the edge of your seat. Fantastic moments that involve blending in and integrating with the enemy as you’re dressed in their uniform is one of the more enjoyable missions, but there is a noticeable difference in the length of chapters – each mission in Ghosts feel very short albeit well integrated to the plot which is relatively easy to follow and offers a few twists along the journey into the unknown. The shorter missions are not a complaint considering there are more of them which evens the games campaign out to a length on par with previous Call of Duty’s, but shorter missions do not leave as memorable an impact on you. Wider views of environments, shiny glossy next generation visuals with both rocks and water you could literally rub your soldiers ass all over they look that damn good. If you have the Xbox 360 version of the game, expect a lot more finesse and finer detail throughout the entire eighteen missions on Xbox One. Improved lighting and particle effects ensure that no Call of Duty has ever looked this good on a console!
In terms of the campaign gameplay, the action feels perfectly balanced as you’re eased into most missions on false hopes that it’s going to be plain sailing. Unpredictable A.I, decent staged firefights with the enemy for the most are challenging and occasionally overwhelming. The environments are often split between huge external surroundings or on the flip side quite tight little corridors and alleyways with little room for escape. It may not be the most ostentatious of shooters this time around on its new generation home, but if the bold and brashy outrageously over the top warfare doesn’t make a return in future releases, Call of Duty might be on course for a bland death if Infinity Ward doesn’t put some oomph in their next development. It’s by no means boring, yet you can’t help but feel that expectations were high considering the impact of Modern Warfare and Black Ops, Ghosts is just not on par with the quality of story and content as each of the others first introductions.
Let’s be totally honest, although you expect a great campaign to sink your teeth into and the odd moments of controversy surrounding plot lines – Call of Duty is massively famed for its addictive Multiplayer due to the pick up and play setting where anyone who knows how to hold a controller and just about participate in the map crawling shoot-outs. Multiplayer on Call of Duty: Ghosts has changed (for the better) the way you select your load-outs, the Prestige system and on Xbox One those sweet beautiful maps have never looked so good. As one of the best looking multiplayer games on the Xbox One, there’s certainly no let down for the online element!
ThisisXbox’s very own Halim recently reviewed the Xbox 360 version of the game and previously pointed out the new online game modes which have also made the transition to Xbox One. 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. 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 Search and Destroy 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.
Call of Duty: Ghosts Multiplayer, comes complete with some beautifully crafted Maps, and mostly quite large scale. This includes a prison deep within a jungle, craters in the heart of Texas, abandoned industrial islands, Tank Assembly plant, a baseball stadium, but the most spectacular map of all – Stonehaven, a ruined Scottish Castle with an open layout. The scenic view and detail of the castle is outstanding on Xbox One, it’s like running through the open fields of the highlands and possibly the best Call of Duty map ever created on this earth! There are fourteen all in all before extra drop as Downloadable Content next year – first on Xbox LIVE!
If you were hoping for some Spec Ops, you’ll be disappointed as Infinity Ward is obviously keen to home-in on the success of Zombies with their own similar new game mode, Extinction. A kind of futuristic alien invasion is at war and your team role is to keep them at bay. It is all about survival and endurance, and although it lacks the story imagination that Treyarch crafted with their Zombies experience, Extinction is actually more fun and more addictive. Halim also touched on this with the Xbox 360 version. 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. In order to keep up with the defences you are forced to spend money earnt from kills to protect yourself and your team making this a less selfish experience than Zombies. It is a shame that Spec Ops Survival didn’t make the grade into Call of Duty: Ghosts as its arrival on Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 3 was a welcomed approach to some hard-hitting heavy action packed team work. As said, Ghosts feels like a refresh for Infinity Ward and all things “Modern” is well and truly in the past.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is a great game, it is the best looking Multiplayer first person shooter on Xbox LIVE and currently the most played and purchased Xbox One title at the time of writing. The campaign is average and lacks the epic momentum and spectacular conclusions to the sub plots within the main story. It’s like going through the motions without the emotion, it’s Call of Duty, you know it’s Call of Duty – but you’re wondering around from one mission to the next thinking when is the big shocker about to come! Multiplayer though as always is a top designed affair and exactly the online Call of Duty experience you’d want delivered on a next-gen console. Bright and heavily detailed maps you’ll not be able to help yourself but play again and again. Multiplayer has great improvements to customisation and a much needed change to the Prestige system – now at per character created rather than player as a whole, it seems less chore-ful.
It just wouldn’t seem right to own an Xbox One without Call of Duty: Ghosts – so we’ve decided it is not to be missed!
[rprogress value=86 text=”ThisisXbox Score 86%”]
[xyz-ihs snippet=”XboxOne”][xyz-ihs snippet=”Pegi16″]