- Developers - Infinity Ward, Raven Software, Neversoft and Treyarch
- Publisher - Activision
- Platforms - PlayStation 3 (tested), Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Wii U, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Release date - PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows and Wii U - out now. Xbox One - 22 November. PlayStation 4 - 29 November
- Price - £39.99
A Call of Duty review, in three sections:
- Section One: The Campaign. Some sections shine more than others and there are some explosive set pieces, but overall it feels tacked on. It's badly written also.
- Section Two: The Multiplayer. This is where CoD continues to shine. It's as fast and technically proficient as last year with a few neat new game modes added. Not a big leap, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
- Section Three: Conclusion. Call of Duty: New One is an evolution rather than revolution from Call of Duty: Previous One. The campaign isn't great but the multiplayer is still solid. 9/10.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry to sound like a cynic and a smart arse. But frankly, after six years of reading and writing Call of Duty reviews, I'm weary.
Actually, no. I'm disheartened. I was a teenager when the original Modern Warfare came out, and I remember feeling like I wanted to play it. Now, six years later, Call of Duty is something that I have to play. It doesn't matter if it's the same as last year, or morally repugnant, or just outright bloody rubbish. I have to play it so that I can take "the pulse of the industry."
If I don't have anything to say about Call of Duty, I'll worry that my writing is uninformed and that my friends will think I'm a snob. It's like X-Factor - it's so big and popular that you feel obliged to play it attention, even if you're not interested in it.
I suspect the team at Infinity Ward feels this way, too. Call of Duty: Ghosts would suggest so.
It's not that it's a bad game - they are never bad games. It's just that it's so bored. I don't know. It's just "there". It's benign - it just "is". Honestly, I'm struggling to review it. What can I say? You know what this is. It's Call of Duty. It's like Christmas. It comes every year, the small things change but the big things don't, and everyone flocks out of their homes to go spend money on it.
Infinity Ward must have had similar thoughts. Same as I've realised that neither my complaining nor rhapsodising about Call of Duty will change anything about it, Infinity Ward has clearly figured out that no amount of laziness, or inventiveness on its part, is going to make that much of a difference.
It's next Call of Duty game is going to review pretty well. It'll probably make more money than last year's. If it doesn't - if this is the year the market's natural fatigue boils over - then so what? It was still good while it lasted. And CoD's accumulated so much money that Activision or Infinity Ward or whomever can take a hit.
There's no risk involved and, I suspect, after you've made several billion dollar selling games, no real sense of reward either. It just happens. It just "is". We all bloody know already.
That kind of thing
So, yes. Ghosts is a tired game, a game you feel like you've played before you've played it. The mechanics are as per - shoot, and avoid being shot - and the story is the usual. A shadowy group of foreigners has blown up some of the United States and is threatening to blow up even more, and so a crack team of military specialists, the eponymous Ghosts, is dispatched to stop them.
It still, fecklessly, decides to cast the American military as the underdogs and it still features some of the hammiest dialogue this side of The Room. "You were never one of us," says a character. "You're not a Ghost." It's that kind of thing.
Some of the levels are quite good - a night-time strike on a Caracas tower block is the high-point - and there are a few minor optimisations to how the shooting handles, including a Killzone-inspired tweak that lets you lean automatically round cover by holding the aim button.
The missions set in space look fantastic and there are few cutaway moments, like when you play as a dog, which make for welcoming changes of pace.
But mostly this is CoD as you, and the 35 million other people who buy it each year, know it already. You won't be surprised but you won't be disappointed either.
Basically, see Section One.
Some of the new maps, like Tremor and Octane, are duds and some, like Whiteout and Stonehaven, are better. Stonehaven in particular actually. It's set inside this crumbling castle in the Scottish highlands, a big departure from the single-player levels and a heck of a setting for deathmatch. I'll give CoD: Ghosts that actually. I like the Stonehaven map a lot.
In terms of new game modes, Cranked is the most interesting. Named for the Jason Statham film Crank, it gives any player who scores a kill 30-seconds of superpower, allowing them to earn more points and utilise more Perks.
However, if they fail to get another kill inside that 30-seconds, they explode and die. It's a good game mode for forcing people onto the field. If you get wound up by campers, play Cranked.
Another addition are Field Orders, which you unlock by killing two of the highest scoring players on the opposite team. Once you complete your Field Orders, which are usually specific objectives like get a kill using your knife or kill two people with one grenade, you can call in airstrikes that will demolish parts of the map and, in theory, change the flow of the game. But like Battlefield 4's Levolution feature, it's not really for that. It's more of a pretty fireworks show, a big spectacular bomb you can set off that, despite looking nice, provides no real tactical advantage. Still, though.
Anyway, same as last year, and the year before, the multiplayer in Call of Duty is good. Not all the new features work exactly and there's the usual mix of good and bad maps. But overall, yeah, fine.
Basically, see Section Two.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry if this review seems unconventional. I'm writing it two days after the press embargo has lifted, and two days after the game itself has come out, so it feels a bit redundant just listing off features. You've read about them already. You've played most of them for yourselves. There's nothing I can tell you about Call of Duty: Ghosts that you don't know, or don't feel like you know, already. You all get it and I don't want to patronise.
All I really want to say - all I really want to emphasise - is just how good Call of Duty used to be. The original Modern Warfare was brave and intelligent. It criticised the American military establishment. As we, critics, punters and I think even the developers of Call of Duty, all become more tired of it, the fact that it was once brilliant will be easier to forget.
So Ghosts is fine and all. It's made a lot of money and a lot of people will have fun with it. But for what it represents, another nail in the coffin of CoD's reputation, a coffin which is slowly being sealed shut, year-by-year, screw this game.
- Gameplay: 6/10 - A few small optimisations and distractions stave off rigor mortis for another year, but boy, is the fatigue setting in or what?
- Graphics: 8/10 - Can't deny this one. The missions set in space are absolutely beautiful. But it's a shame you're always running past everything and shooting, since you don't get time to breath in the visuals.
- Sound: 5/10 - Your standard videogame orchestral score coupled with disinterested voice actors. Guns sound better than usual, though.
- Writing: 4/10 - An incomprehensible plot, naturally, explored mainly through bad dialogue, naturally.
- Replay value: 6/10 - A sticking point. The campaign isn't worth revisiting, and since we get CoD every year now, the multiplayer, rather than being "endless fun" will only last until next November.
- Overall: 5/10 - At its core, Ghosts is as competent as most other Call of Duty games, but more than the others - more than Black Ops 2 especially - it feels tired and wheeled out. When this franchise finally dies, people will point to Ghosts as the tipping point.
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