Activision once again unleashes it’s yearly sales monster. Call of Duty: Ghosts, the tenth in the main series, the sixth made by series originator Infinity Ward, is easily one of the worst shooters released on the public. Using the words incompetent, inane and boring to describe the story missions would be far too kind, the online doesn’t fare much better. It’s still going to sell an incredible number of units so why try to make something good?
The oil producing nations of South America have banned together to form a new superpower called The Federation. Not just content with saving themselves from an impending global financial crisis, conquering Latin America and the Caribbean, they attack the US’s brand new orbital superweapon known as ODIN. Of course they take control and start to use it on… guess who? That’s right. They use it on the US. Of course two American Astronauts survive the initial attack and destroy ODIN. In space. It’s one of the worst sequences to come out of Call of Duty’s “once a game level where your character has to die because it’s all emotional and stuff”. Fortunately, while Odin is being attacked, we are also treated to the first eyesore cutscene that sets up the story of the Ghosts unit. Because Ghosts seems to take place in a universe where stealth and guerrilla tactics had never been heard of before, these guys are legends it seems. Not that any of it really matters since ODIN is raining hot death on the North American continent from space and setting up the war with The Federation where the main story will pick up a decade later. Seems without ODIN The Federation is pretty incompetent or maybe the Ghosts are just THAT good.
One of the story’s biggest failures is the characters. They’re not flat, cardboard standees spewing inane vaguely militaristic terms. They’re stupid, flat, cardboard standees spewing inane vaguely militaristic terms. That’s worse. The dialog is painful to hear and it is all delivered by actors who just don’t seem able to bring a single inflection to it.
Let’s be honest… if you’ve played a Call of Duty since Modern Warfare, you’ve played every mission in this game at least once before. There’s nothing new or unique here, with the sole exception of a dog being used as the replacement for drones. Your four legged friend, tragically, is controlled during some of the least tense stealth missions ever released. Dog stays low, you barely push forward on stick, occasionally you find yourself behind an enemy (whose back is ALWAYS turned to you), press attack button, repeat. *YAWN* Really that these segments got into the full game is further proof that Infinity Ward has just stopped trying. I won’t even bother talking about the rest of the story missions, there’s nothing to say really. There’s a sniper bit, there’s a stealth bit, there’s a bit where you man a vehicle turret to defend your escape… and all these standard bits feel ripped directly out of previous installments.
Visually Ghosts is perfectly passable. The characters look human, the environments look like places. None of them look particularly good. Jungle foliage is stiff and you magically slide through it while crawling with your character’s hands pasted to the middle of the screen and moving in a way that is distracting. Faces are stiff and plastic looking. Ken dolls in a plastic playsets. Cover still takes as many bullets as is thrown at it. Nothing like the old “bulletproof box left, happily, between you and objective”.
Wait… wait… you’re right. This is Call of Duty. No one gives a damn about how bad the single player is. It’s all about ONLINE! So let’s take a look at that. The maps are of decent size but with only 12 to 16 players, depending on mode and what you’re playing on, they’re a bit too big. The fast paced, heavy fire of earlier CoD is replaced with plodding through the map with brief exchanges of fire. The weapons have been rebalanced to make them all nice and equal. Respawns usually happen far too close to enemy fire. The dynamic maps are an incredible disappointment, after Battlefield 4’s grand destruction and game changing dynamic events, the occasional closing door or missile strike is not as impactful as you’d expect and not very cinematic either. They feel tacked on. All the usual modes are present and five “new” modes. The new modes are just small variations on the classic modes that don’t really offer any new challenge or interesting gameplay. They’re worth a couple quick matches and will probably never be played again.
Since this is an Infinity Ward CoD and not a Treyarch CoD… there’s no Zombies mode. Instead Infinity Ward has tried to make it’s own unique mode, Extinction. Trying to be more derivative of Left 4 Dead, it’s a four player co-op mode mini campaign with a couple decent sized maps. The aliens are poor attempts at being nimble and smart. They scamper over walls and jump over obstacles. To balance this out, the aliens are stupid and not nearly as fast as the designers seem to think they are. The special powers and level up tree makes what could have been a nice little mode, even if derivative and no where near on par with Zombies, instead it’s just another incompetent showing. Extinction gets boring quickly.
Activision needs to hang up their Call of Duty release schedule for a couple years. The series is really starting to show it’s age. Infinity Ward reeks of being desperate in trying to recapture its Modern Warfare glory days. Maybe a couple years out of the spotlight and some serious work can bring us the Call of Duty that deserves the yearly (*cough* BOUGHT *cough*) praise that’s heaped upon the series every year. Honestly as gamers and consumers, we deserve better products than this.
Review by Dave Gray