It is the franchise that never dies. Another year, and yes, another Call of Duty title, but this series continues to keep kicking, with one of their biggest and most ambitious titles yet. Ghosts doesn’t try to rewrite, or stray far from, the tried-and-true Call of Duty formula that has been so successful over the past few years. Call of Duty: Ghosts only looks to continue on what has made the Call of Duty franchise a video game juggernaut for nearly 8 years.
For many, Black Ops II was a good sign of things to come for a series that had become a bit stagnated in recent years. While Black Ops II was a general step in the right direction, Ghosts tends to fall back a bit, and fails to deliver a true standout experience. It is the same Call of Duty that everyone has come to know and love (or hate), but this formula has been done to death and proves that this series is in dire need of a long vacation to come back fresh and renewed in hopes that it decides to take risks and do something completely different for the future.
Call of Duty: Ghosts features a decent single-player campaign that does not provide a stellar story, but still packs a bit of bang for the 5-6 hours it would take to complete for most. The Call of Duty series has managed to take players through extraordinary set-pieces and locales perfectly designed for combat throughout much of the franchise’s history. Ghosts fails to deliver those same memorable locations and intense scenarios that gamers have grown accustomed to when talking about Call of Duty’s single-player campaigns. Barring a few missions, most of the game looks and feels bland during the entire duration of its story. Ghosts still has players moving from one shootout to the next with little to no freedom at all. It tends to be a rather linear experience throughout, forcing players down a set path with very minimal room for exploration
Players take control of Logan Walker, who alongside his brother “Hesh”, must take on The Federation in a massive conflict on a global scale. In very few instances, players will also have control of Baker, an astronaut who engages in intense space firefights, but most of the time players will be seeing through the eyes of Logan. Throughout the journey, Logan and “Hesh” are recruited into the mysterious ‘Ghosts’ unit, and must then turn their full attention to stopping The Federation and the game’s main villain, Rourke, who lacks the same vile and abhorrent personality of other antagonists in the series’ history, most notably Vladimir Makarov from the Modern Warfare trilogy.
Anyone looking for a more in-depth and meaningful story may have come to the wrong place. The story in Ghosts is actually one of the game’s weakest traits, failing to capture my attention throughout the entire playthrough. It is not a horrid experience, but falters when stacked against other entries in the franchise. The ending to Ghosts also left the door open for a potential Call of Duty: Ghosts 2 in the very near future. For those interested in Call of Duty: Ghosts’ campaign, you can watch our complete campaign walkthrough by visiting our Youtube page for more.
One of the most talked about features prior to Call of Duty: Ghosts’ release was the introduction of Riley, the German Shepherd that accompanies Logan and “Hesh” throughout their missions. Sadly enough, Riley does not play an integral part of the story whatsoever. Very few missions actually feature the dangerous canine, and those that do hardly showcase the dog’s true ability. Players will be able to control him throughout various points in the story for short intervals and order him to attack enemies with just the tap of a button, but nothing worth noting that makes his appearance a true addition to the overall gameplay. I, myself, was hoping to see Riley play a bigger role in the grand scheme of new gameplay elements introduced for Ghosts, but felt slightly letdown by the dog’s lack of presence throughout.
While Call of Duty: Ghosts’ single-player may feel like a bit of a setback for long-time fans of the series, Ghosts’ multiplayer will still provide hours upon hours of action and chaotic fun for gamers. Many fan-favorite game modes are still there to be found with some new additions. Players will still have fun shooting and fragging their friends and strangers online. This doesn’t mean it is without its faults though.
Infinity Ward has focused on introducing many new features to this year’s multiplayer. “Squads” is likely the biggest standout feature to be introduced for Ghosts. It has some merits, but does fall flat in other areas. Players can create and customize up to 10-AI characters anyway they like. Players can then take their squads and pit them against other squads, in a variety of ways. In many instances, players will find themselves facing opposing teams consisting of 95% bots. We found playing with other real opponents to be a more rewarding experience in the end, but “Squads” can prove to be a great training ground to further one’s skills for real competition.
Ghosts also introduces seven new game modes to play around with. Another new addition is “Extinction”, which is a spin-off of the ultra-popular zombie mode found in Black Ops 2. Infinity Ward has swapped out zombies for aliens for Ghosts, but it still remains as fun as ever, especially when playing with friends.
Besides all the fun that Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer can provide, it also has some underlying problems that can hopefully be fixed in future iterations. First, certain maps can prove to be too large for the small player count on current-gen versions. This seems to have been fixed on next-gen consoles, as in-game player counts have been increased for the Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions. Much of the multiplayer also feels all-to-familiar, which may not be seen as a flaw for some, but after playing every Call of Duty since number two in 2005, there is nothing that jumps out to grab your attention anymore. Minus some new modes and features, Ghosts’ multiplayer resembles what you have played over the past 7 years lacking any particular aspect that stands out entirely.
Very few franchises in video game history have managed to dominate the entire industry in quite the same fashion as Call of Duty. There comes a time and a place though, where one might need some time away to rethink their approach to things. Call of Duty is one example where undergoing a completely revamp and overhaul can likely prove to be beneficial for both the series and long-time fans.
With many viewing Ghosts as a less-than-superb title in a rather acclaimed and highly-touted franchise, Call of Duty runs the risk of further damaging its reputation by refusing to accept that change may be needed in order to further stay relevant in the coming years. Yes, Call of Duty still remains a monumental franchise that can sell millions upon millions by simply releasing a yearly title every single holiday season, but does that mean we have to accept that? Simply put, no. I personally have enjoyed most entries in the long-running series, but when one of your biggest titles feels exactly like it did last year, it tends to become problem, as many have noted for the past few years. A series that use to be magic has lost much of its luster, and without any plans to change for the future, this franchise should be careful not to become a ghost itself.
(This review was completed using the Playstation 3 version of Call of Duty: Ghosts. We plan on providing quick details for both the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions upon their release.)