Nov 112013


It’s November, and that means it is indeed time for the annual shooter influx to hit the consoles. Battlefield? Check. Call of Duty? Check. A few others who want to throw their hat in the ring? Check. New console launch? A once in a long few check. What’s the difference this year you may ask? Well, for starters, the games are out on both current and next-gen consoles so it’s hard to judge since your experiences might vary depending on the version you get your hands on. Even so, here is the Call of Duty: Ghosts review you’ve been waiting for (or not).

Disclaimer: I feel like this is the first time I need to do this. This version has been reviewed on PC (as that is the code that we were provided by the publisher) on highest settings. Multiplayer review comes from PC and Xbox 360. We did not get the opportunity to play the next generation version.

Anyways, Call of Duty: Ghosts ladies and gentlemen.

If you’ve played previous Call of Duty, you can probably recite the story without even trying. There is an evil faction, it works to invade the mighty U.S. and of course, you as the resistance get to fight it. In this case, the Federation is a South American coalition that decided that they’ve had enough. You play as a regular Joe (your actual name is Logan, but that’s irrelevant) who is plucked from his life in suburbia and has to fight the “good fight” because your father is now the leader of the resistance.

The story is straightforward and all of the “twists” are telegraphed from mission to mission. In many ways, it’s just an excuse to take you from set-piece to set-piece.

Yes, there's dogs here to complement the destruction

Yes, there’s dogs here to complement the destruction

If I may speak candidly for a second. Why do FPS games bother with including a single player campaign element if it’s just going to be poorly constructed and be finished in under five hours? We all know that the people who pick up these titles are more interested in jumping head first into multi-player. I’d actually be interested in seeing stats for how many players finish a single-player campaign. My bet? Under 50%. Stop bothering, work on just putting out a great multi-player product.

The sound is great during the campaign. As we’ve come to expect from Call of Duty, each weapon sounds different when fired and there are a lot more peripheral noise either in single or multiplayer. You hear enemies moving better and your digital allies actually give you “heads up” warnings and other indication throughout.

The biggest knock here is the voice acting. I think at this point, even the actors know what they’re in for. Granted, the story isn’t exactly an Oscar worthy screenplay, but at least try. Some lines are delivered with no emotional weight. There is little indication that the characters actually feel the way the story implies they do. While Call of Duty normally delivers great production value, this is the one time they fall well short.

Visually, the game is a step-up from previous versions, at least in blown up resolution on my PC. I don’t want to make a judgement call on how it looks in next-gen, but if I had to venture a guess, I’d say I got that experience playing my version anyway.  There is a level of detail to the main character, the weapons and some of the levels are simply breathtaking (which the game doesn’t hesitate to flaunt). Unfortunately, upon closer examination, there are a lot of rough textures and smoothed over corners. Bottom line is, it looks gorgeous, as long as you don’t look too close.

In-game sure does look pretty throughout

In-game sure does look pretty throughout

The campaign is a standard affair that you will wrap up in under five hours. It’s mostly set up to set up so the game can flaunt some of its set pieces right in front of your eyes. There is a visit to an international space station, interstellar gunfights included. A very gorgeous underwater level, and of course you get to “pilot” a dog. If that sound weird, don’t worry, it most definitely is.

The game gives you very little agency in what happens and you feel like a puppet. Sprinting cover to cover, firing some shot at enemies who tend to ignore your squad mates and focus on you exclusively. Additionally, nothing will move unless you reach a certain invisible check-point, even if you’re supposed to be following someone. The first Modern Warfare was fun, the second one was okay, but at this point there is no fun left. You get dragged on a leash and even the exciting moments are reduced to a button press. It’s a watered down experience that holds none of the weight or wonder if the first time the series took a step into the modern world.

The multiplayer is what you’re here for and it’s a standard affair. Ever since Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward has been playing a steady tug of war, focusing on refining the formula that works over constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. A number of new game modes add to the fun with unique twists. In particular the hectic scramble of one mode left me impressed. Here, after you get your first kill, you get a set amount of time to get another or you will explode. It can be both a frustrating and an exhilarating experience. Definitely the new memorable mode.

What impressed me the most is the level of verticality to maps. Infinity Ward finally figured out that what works best is smaller, condensed maps with a higher probability of mayhem. Most of the maps follow that philosophy but with an added element of multiple levels. It’s fun to traverse maps and increases chances of sneaking up on people.

It's Gravity, with guns. Lots and lots of guns

It’s Gravity, with guns. Lots and lots of guns

As an answer to Treyarch’s zombie mod, Ghosts introduces “Extinction,” but unfortunately falls short. You, and some of your buddies get to liberate a town from an alien extinction by destroying hives. Multiple classes and escalating enemies make the mode fun, but just for one play through. You get to cooperate on your way to success, but there is only one map and the layout barely changes game to game. This is definitely something that will see DLC love, but at launch, it won’t take up too much of your time.


We received a review code for Call of Duty: Ghosts.  All opinions are honest and of the minds of the staff.


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