Call of Duty: Ghosts Review
Another November, another Call of Duty entry. The blockbuster FPS series has become one of the most popular and polarizing in gaming history, with each holiday season bringing in bigger and bigger sales. This year, developer Infinity Ward, who made the series-defining Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, is back at the helm and while Ghosts may not be as memorable as that landmark title in FPS history, it should be good enough to keep shooter fans happy while they wait for Santa.
Since we don't really need to go over the basics, let's start by talking about the single player campaign. Admittedly, this is my only real area of interest as I'm not much for online multiplayer. As can be expected by now, the campaign's story expertly straddles the line between Metal Gear-levels of incomprehensibility and "LOL WUT" goofy extremes. You play as Logan, a soldier who, along with his brother, teams with a group called the Ghosts. From there, the game trips over every tired clich� in the action movie handbook. Would you believe that Logan's dad runs the Ghosts? Or that a former Ghost is a terrorist now? Mmm... melodrama. What is worse is that the individual levels don't have any flow from one to the next, nor do they fit with the overall narrative the game is trying to walk us through. Each level is a mystery akin to, "Hey! I'm in space! Wait... why am I in space again?" That isn't to say the levels themselves aren't interesting, they just don't fit together very well.
Love the series or hate it, there is something undeniably exciting about the single player campaign. Each of the 18 missions has its own sense of style to it, and if you haven't played another Call of Duty game, it will all seem very exciting. To those of us who have been through this before, you'll see a lot of repeated objectives and mission structures. What you won't see is the memorable sequence or cutscene that really drives the point home. Infinity Ward knocked everyone's socks off with the nuclear blast in Modern Warfare, but that kind of "holy crap" moment is missing from Ghosts. There are attempts at that moment, but with no solid story foundation to build on, it all comes across as pandering.
Lastly, and I'm afraid this is becoming the order of the day when it comes to online shooters, the campaign is very short and extremely easy. You'll more than likely breeze through most of the levels without more than a death or two; even the final levels, obviously designed to be more challenging, don't provide any real obstacles between the player and the goal. The lack of challenge makes the game feel even shorter than it is; you should be able to do everything in single player in less than a weekend.
Since multiplayer isn't so much my thing and it has been discussed to death already, I'm going to say this: If you've played Call of Duty online before, you know just what to expect here. The real shake up to the formula comes in the form of Extinction, the you vs. aliens mode that thankfully replaces the tired zombie stuff from the Black Ops games. In this four-player co-op mode, you've got to defend a small town against an alien invasion, making due with the limited ammo and paltry gun selection the game gives you. Though similar to the previous titles' zombie mode, it provides much more excitement and will hopefully signal a shift away from zombies, pop culture's most played out... anything. Zombies are more overexposed, more off-putting and more obnoxious than Miley Cyrus' lady business at this point, and the less we see of them, the better. Back on the topic of Ghosts, the Extinction mode can provide some serious fun and shouldn't be overlooked in the deluge of new and different takes on the same old multiplayer deathmatch.
Because I couldn't think of anywhere else to put this, it goes here. The selling point for Ghosts has, since day one, been the dog. I really wanted to get into this new feature - the idea of having an attack dog to help win the war is a cool one. The problem is that all you can really do is give it basic "kill that" commands, and it didn't work the way I wanted it to. The idea is definitely there, but the execution made it just another Easter egg that was all but ignored.
If you are playing Call of Duty: Ghosts as an exclusively single player game, you probably aren't going to be too happy with it. The campaign is short, easy and lacks any real emotional "pow!" moment. The story makes almost no sense at all, and the levels seem to be thrown together in a haphazard order because of it. Still, there is some real excitement to be had if you can overlook the problems. If you are a multiplayer person, you'll be much better off with this one. All the modes you love are back, and Extinction (finally) replaces zombies with a fresher otherworldly villain. Infinity Ward was once responsible for the best FPS on the shelf, but Ghosts can't capture that same lightning in a bottle.
Final Rating: 82%. It's more Call of Duty, but this one is missing its pow.