Call of Duty: Ghosts
The latest Call of Duty title really lives up to its name. After a couple of turns in the territory of “Black Ops”, the latest installment dubbed “Ghosts” has a lot to live up to. There was a time when the series felt somewhat grounded in reality, particularly during the titles set during World War II. Although the idea of a realistic setting being a requirement for a fantastic game would be completely ridiculous, there is also a point where a series is taken too far in the other direction and becomes a downright asinine shadow (or GHOST) of its former self (ie Saints Row). After spinning the disc for only a short while, one quickly realizes that the “Ghosts” in question are not only the titular bad-asses (who lay under a pile of corpses that serve as a makeshift cocoon, transforming surviving team members into supernatural killing machines), but are also the memories of previous titles for which fans of the series will be longing in short order.
Some will argue that the single player campaign in this series is irrelevant, as only the quality of the multiplayer counts in a game like this. If this is indeed true, and compelling characters or a solid storyline mean nothing, then the good news is that Ghosts multiplayer really does deliver. The new “Create-A-Soldier” system is an interesting twist, allowing players to design their own character based on gender, weapon loadout and equipment. There are over twenty thousand possible character combinations, so even the most loaded multiplayer session will sport a varied roster of charming, lethal malcontents. The title boasts over thirty new weapons and over twenty new Killstreaks. Player favorite modes have returned with new additions, so all the favorites are present: Domination, Team Deathmatch, Free For All, Kill Confirmed, Infected and Search and Destroy. There are a few more modes added on as well, including one called “Cranked,” that grants a player more and more powers with each kill, but threatens to destroy said player via a timer countdown that will cause them to explode when reaching zero. Frenetic fun for all!
One of the most fascinating additions to the multiplayer game is the utilization of the long-forgotten “bots” paradigm. Yes, players can join teams with AI controlled teammates and opponents, or mix and match various setups with a single friend. This is a great and long forgotten addition for those who don’t wish do drop themselves into an online arena full of experts that will completely destroy them. The maps in the game are adroitly designed, and the whole multiplayer experience is quite fun and has been fundamentally improved since past titles.
As one may have surmised from the previous paragraphs, the single player campaign is well, just ridiculous. The story lasts barely six hours, and is broken up into eighteen acts, each just a bit more silly than the last. Steven Gaghan, the man who penned the film, “Traffic” is responsible for the storyline, and one begins to wonder if he drew inspiration from conversations with an eight-year-old. The most discussed aspect of the storyline is Riley, the main character’s dog that can be utilized during the game for various purposes, including attacking foes and acting as a general distraction. Riley’s storyline suddenly comes to a halt, leaving most to wonder if they simply ran out of ideas for him. Considering “a man and his dog” was the main thrust of all the original trailers for this game, this comes as a bit of a strange and disappointing outcome.
With a thin plotline and a large helping of ridiculous dialogue, Call of Duty: Ghosts reinforces the idea that these games are cranked out once a year for their multiplayer features. Coming from one who has played every version since Call of Duty 2 graced the Xbox 360 around launch, this lackadaisical single-player offering makes one wish about what could have been. The multiplayer is complicated, fun and offers some renewed features that come as a welcome offering against all the post-Halo shooter world has to offer. If a deep and compelling single player experience is what you crave, look elsewhere. If you just want to get online and go up against the world, then join the hordes of ghosslings already invading your online network of choice.
Reviewed By: Russell Garbutt
This review is based on a retail copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts for the Xbox 360 provided by Activision.