When you throw in a Call of Duty game into a console, you more or less know what to expect – a mayhem-filled campaign and addicting online multiplayer, which is exactly what we get with Call of Duty: Ghosts.
For many, that’s good enough, while others expect more from sequels, and Ghosts, in my opinion falls somewhere in between.
For starters, there’s the campaign, which sees the U.S. in a conflict with South American nations, who are determined to take control of the country. The U.S. in a state of collapse, though not quite beaten, as missions take place in Southern California – Santa Monica and San Diego to be exact, before making their way south of the border and into South America. That this war doesn’t take place against Soviets, or Arabic countries is kind of refreshing, as the environments such as those in the Andes add a level of newness to the prototypical COD campaign, and they look great on the PS4 and Xbox One. Throughout the campaign, you’ll find yourself flying choppers, making your way down skyscrapers and as you see from the start, engaging in a firefight in space, which was pretty cool. Though you’ll come across the usual mission types, there are some really tense ones, such as one that involves you trying to get out of a collapsing building that gets your blood pumping, though trying to follow the story itself can once again be a bit of a challenge, as narration is too subtle, and it’s easy to get lost as to what exactly is going on. There are some good tidbits of information during loading screens but once you get dropped into battle, fuggedaboutit.
What I can say about the story though is that there is a nice bit of drama between Logan and Hesh, the two brothers, and their father Hesh, as well as their dog Reilly. I found myself caring about the dog and genuinely felt bad when it was in trouble. And rather than just being a piece on the battlefield, Reilly does get into the action as you can control him in some cases, when trying to either scout, or take down enemies quietly. This was one of the few times in a COD game where I felt for the protagonists and it made me want to keep them alive.
The campaign ends up at around 10-11 hours, which includes an engaging final act, though somewhere around the 5th or 6th hour, the story gets a little shallow, as you end up in fiery missions that do little to move the campaign along. It’s not that their bad, but they don’t really compare to the first few hours and the final ones.
Now getting into what most of you probably care most about – multiplayer. Ghosts more or less, provides that same kind of experience that you’ve enjoyed before but with a few additions to personalization and a more diverse set of maps. What players will no doubt notice right off the bat is the new Create a Soldier system, which gives players the ability to create 10 characters, each with their own set of 6 loadouts and 60 classes. You can literally create thousands of combinations, while those who wish to get into a game without a secondary weapon can do so and instead fill up with perks or more attachments.
There is so much to do before even getting into a multiplayer match, that it’s easy to spend hours just playing around with Create a Solider, and that’s a welcomed addition.
After numerous play sessions online, I’m also happy to say that there seems to be a better sense of balance in that no one class or weapon gives any player an unfair advantage, at least nothing that is super obvious. There is also now a weapon type known as marksman rifles that lie somewhere in between assault rifles and sniper rifles, which provide a good amount of range but are still adequate for mobile players. As for the 15 included maps, you’ll notice that many of them are much larger than the traditional maps one expects out of a Call of Duty game. In fact, some of these maps can get so big that when playing with just a few players, you can actually find yourself lost, especially when you consider that these maps have a lot of different routes.
As had been highlighted in many trailers leading up to the launch of the game, maps are dynamic and things such as pathways and structures can be altered to change up how a match plays out.
Though you’ll come across the usual COD multiplayer modes such as Domination and Team Deathmatch, Ghosts adds five new modes, bringing the total to 13 game types. There’s one called Cranked which is like Team Deathmatch, only you get 30 seconds after a kill, to get another one – if you don’t, you’ll explode. The first time I played this mode, I literally laughed out loud at my sudden demise, wondering “what in the hell just happened?”There’s also another mode called Grind that requires you to not just collect dog tags like you would in Kill Confirmed, but you also have to tp them in one of two banks on the map before dying.
By now, we all know there are aliens in the game, and Ghosts boasts the Extinction mode, which sees you battling aliens in up to four-player co-op. You get a sort of mini campaign where the aliens are all over the place and present a stiff challenge, as they not only come right at you, but traverse on walls and the like. It’s essential to work as a team, especially when you consider that you’ll want to be on the same page as it pertains to loadouts and equipment.
For those who are either less skilled or new to Call of Duty, you get a Squads mode, which is a host of co-op modes against bots. They feel like multiplayer games, except that you get to practice alongside a friend against A.I. enemies, who show up as the characters you have created in the game and play like human players in that they’re unpredictable and realistic.
Fans will also be happy to know that there is some cross-platform features, such as character customization as you can play on a 360 and then bring your character over to an Xbox One version of the game.
Having tried out the current-gen versions of the game, before jumping on the PS4 and Xbox One versions, I did notice a lot more detail in weapons, characters and environments, though they’re not as huge of a leap that one would expect from one generation to the next. So while you’ll appreciate more polished visuals, they’re not as obvious as they are on Battlefield 4.
As it pertains to the Xbox One vs. PS4 debate, both versions of Ghosts looked good, as I figured they would, but the PS4 version, which runs natively on 1080p, did look sharper and offered up a bit more detail, when testing it out on a 60”HDTV. The Xbox One version by contrast runs at 720p and then is upscaled, which isn’t as noticeable on smaller TVs, but was on the larger one we used. Another bonus, besides visuals on the next-gen versions of Ghosts, is the inclusion of 18-player matches called Ground War, which are larger-scaled matches, while the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U version are capped at 12 players.
Regardless of which platform you choose to play Call of Duty: Ghosts on, you’ll find that the game is a nice enhancement of what we’ve seen in previous installments, though we’d like to see more chances taken with the franchise, instead of just sticking with the current formula. Nonetheless, Ghosts is fun and addicting, and if you like what you’ve seen out of the past few COD games, then you’ll dig this one too.
Final Score: 4.3 out of 5