The Call of Duty series is one which has been met with significant controversy regarding the similarity of each successive iteration. As such it comes as no particular surprise that Ghosts’ is a very similar beast to its predecessors. As you’d expect from a solid sequel, Ghosts retains the staples that the series is founded on, as you’d expect from a solid sequel. However as we pass into a new generation with games like Battlefield 4 pushing the boundaries of current gen hardware capabilities, it begs the question is Ghosts doing enough to keep the series relevant?
From the outset Ghosts makes it clear there’s no reluctance to mimic it’s predecessors. The games single-player campaign greets you with the same fiery explosions and semi-incoherent plot you’ve come to expect from the franchise. The cinematic set pieces haven’t changed, they’re just as good as were in prior instalments; this is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand if you’re looking for the same experience you’ve come to expect from the franchise over the last 5 years, then Ghosts treats you well, but if you’re looking for more, you may need to look elsewhere.
Gunplay is just as fluid and fun as always, the singleplayer campaign features the same old shooting gallery, linear funnelled design as games prior. If you’ve not grown tired of this already, then it’s enjoyable. You’re thrown from mission to mission with frequent time skips across a variety of locations, ranging from overgrown suburban areas and gritty back-alleys to baseball stadiums. The problem the game suffers from is that it doesn’t really change in any way, whilst from time to time action is interrupted by the occasional gameplay addition such as the ability to control an attack dog, or remote sniper rifle. This doesn’t change the pacing of the game, or offer anything liable to keep you engaged. It all boils down to the same process, enter new area, clear enemies out with gunfire or whatever support the games presented as available to you, rinse and repeat. If you’ve played prior entries in the series, considering the narrative here is one of the weaker presented to players, it’s difficult to justify playing the games singleplayer campaign.
It’s difficult to spare Call of Duty in 2013; other franchises like Battlefield are pushing for significantly improved graphics and mechanics even on current gen consoles. The Call of Duty series has never been aesthetically pretty, but its graphical inadequacies are becoming more evident in comparison to its competition. Pulling no punches; the game is visually ugly, textures are noticeably low resolution, and when combined with a relatively generic green and brown colour palette the entire game looks as what can only be described as very ‘muddy’. There are horrific aliasing issues to boot, jagged edges prostrate themselves across every individual frame, there wasn’t a single moment where I stopped to admire any aspect of the games visual fidelity, and this is true across both the single and multiplayer modes.
Of course, despite critisism none of the aforementioned problems are what have made the series a success. The multiplayers fast paced, fluid, 60 frame per second gameplay remains relatively intact. Map design is relatively improved over Modern Warfare 3 especially with the inclusion of the dynamic level elements. The game comes with a good collection of guns, perks and equipment for players to play around with which is all presented within the new ‘create a soldier’ system. Each soldier ranks up separately and has his own set of classes, this is an interesting mechanic, as you can specialise soldiers differently depending on the type of playstyle you want to associate them with.
It might be a little complicated for players new to the series, however veteran players will definitely appreciate the additional levels of depth provided by what is effectively a vastly improved ‘create a class’ system. With that said, these inclusions are nice but don’t detract from the fact that the game is fundamentally unbalanced. Call of Duty has never offered a particularly balanced multiplayer environment, perhaps aside the first two games. However a sudden inclusion of melee attacking boosts via killstreaks (specifically; juggernaught maniac) seems particularly bizzare considering how scrutinised the assisted knifing in the Call of Duty games already is. The particular killstreak in question, Juggernaught manic, enables players to run round at an increase speed, with around 5 times the health they used to have, knifing other players. In the right hands this is practically unstoppable, and ultimately this and similar killstreaks only serve to dilute the game-play, detracting from real engagements & gunfights.
Questionable inclusions aside one bizarre detriment is the fact that Ghosts’ multiplayer only supports online for up to 12 players, and split screen for a maximum of two. If we bear in mind that Ghosts’ is not prettier than Call of Duty games prior, it’s difficult to understand exactly why the player count has been lowered. The maps are of equal size, or perhaps a little larger in many cases the reduced player count results in a lack of action. Things play out at slower pace, and it seems less pick-up and play thanks to the reduction in online combatants. With the reduction in both split and online players considered, it begs the question what this iteration has to offer over prior games in the series.
Bad Ultimately Ghosts’ feels like a stop-gap between this generation and the next. Unless you’re desperate for new maps and weapons there’s objectively no reason to invest here. The game doesn’t look any prettier than it’s predecessors and features reduced functionality and overall quality across the board. The games singleplayer isn’t worth playing through with perhaps the worse narrative in the series history, and the multiplayer whilst still enjoyable offers nothing significant that isn’t available from either Call of Duty games prior, or the games competition. Whether you’re playing on XBOX ONE, 360, PS3 or 4; Call of Duty Ghost’ is by no means a bad game, it’s just not a good game relative to prior series entries, or its competition.
Ultimately Ghosts’ feels like a stop-gap between this generation and the next. Unless you’re desperate for new maps and weapons there’s objectively no reason to invest here. The game doesn’t look any prettier than it’s predecessors and features reduced functionality and overall quality across the board. The games singleplayer isn’t worth playing through with perhaps the worse narrative in the series history, and the multiplayer whilst still enjoyable offers nothing significant that isn’t available from either Call of Duty games prior, or the games competition. Whether you’re playing on XBOX ONE, 360, PS3 or 4; Call of Duty Ghost’ is by no means a bad game, it’s just not a good game relative to prior series entries, or its competition.