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Call of Duty: Ghosts review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • Fantastic, polished controls the series is known for
  • Multiplayer is as entertaining as ever
  • Single-player missions are a snoozefest
  • Squads is more of a practice mode for beginners than a successor to Spec Ops
  • Extinction doesn't hold the same appeal as Zombies

I'm the kind of Call of Duty player that pops open the game case, gathers up my buddies, and jumps right into the fantastic, addictive multiplayer with less than a glance at the single-player and co-op modes. And that's how I suggest you approach the latest entry in the Call of Duty series. Call of Duty: Ghosts hits all of the Call of Duty bulletpoints: precise controls, refined multiplayer gameplay, and a ton of content to keep you coming back again and again. But it doesn't take any chances or bring anything significant to the table, especially in the single-player and co-op modes. Never before has a game in the series felt so stagnant. While the shooter is a solid FPS experience all around, it's missing the creative passion that made its predecessors shine.

Call of Duty: Ghosts' story takes you to a new, near-future era. Modern Warfare’s Soap and Price are nowhere to be seen and have been replaced by the young brothers, Logan and Hesh, who are fighting against a fictional superpower called The Federation. Your faceless enemy remains faceless throughout the game, with the story's only antagonist being a uninspired Federation lackey. As a result of the enemy organization's ambiguity, you never really know the motivations behind it hijacking a weaponized space station and bombing the bejeezus out of the United States, so why care? The plot plays out so by-the-numbers that you know what to expect before it even happens, making every dramatic moment less impactful, every cliched plot twist fall flat, and every line of military jargon that much more cheesy.

But what about Riley? Fighting with a dog through war must be an emotional rollercoaster, right? Well, he has his moments of badassery and distress, but he is more Hesh's best friend than he is Logan's (you). So, all of the emotional attachment you experience is witnessed looking in on Hesh and Riley's relationship--you're just the third wheel. In the end, not having your own pet proved to be just another missed opportunity to suck me into Ghosts' story and world. But don't blame Riley, he's still a good boy.

The story's shortcomings could have been softened by memorable single-player missions, but these instead quickly become stale. Call of Duty has always relied on its super epic set-piece moments to create a memorable, action-packed experience. The frequency of these intense scenes has been upped a notch in Ghosts, but the action often fails to impress. Far too many of the levels break down like this: you play sneaky for the first third, go guns-blazing for the second third, and escape explosions, falling buildings, or overwhelming enemy forces in the last stretch. When used sparingly, these sequences build anticipation for the strenuous firefights of the coming battle, and give a satisfying "whew"-conclusion to the mission. But here, the formula is used so often that it becomes predictable, and thus leaves Ghosts without much dramatic impact.

That said, the campaign does have its strong moments. You'll shoot your way through new and interesting environments. Floating through an orbiting space station in zero gravity, swimming with the sharks in the ocean, and even manning a tank makes for a visually intriguing contrast to the been-there-done-that feeling of the repetitious and cover-centric on-foot battles. Infinity Ward has also abandoned the pre-mission map loadscreens from previous games and replaced them with stylish cutscenes that more clearly detail the next step in the story, a welcomed addition.

The next-gen difference

With the current-gen version of Call of Duty: Ghosts, the visuals are some of the most impressive there have been in the series. You'll be getting the same feature set on the PS3 and 360, minus the 18-player, Ground War multiplayer mode. 

If you're a stickler for playing first-person shooters with as crisp and detailed visuals you can possibly get, you'll want to save up and go next-gen. Otherwise, the current-gen versions will do just fine.

Whereas the single-player campaign dipped below expectations, Ghosts' multiplayer is right on par with what you'd expect, but not much more. Yes, there are new elements like the ability to slide, peek out from corners, interact with certain doors, and blow up sections of the map, but the added features do little to freshen up the gameplay. Opening and closing doors in particular can be almost completely ignored if you aren't playing an objective-based team game, since there's no real need to restrict the enemy team from an area of a map in a deathmatch mode. The level destruction is limp, especially when you look at Battlefield 4's map-changing advancements with levolution. We've been blowing up walls in other shooters for years, so watching a designated section of a wall disappear in a C4 explosion is no big whoopdeedoo, and a map-altering chemical nuke only works in one map. That said, the competitive modes are still some of the best shooter experiences you are going to get online thanks to the smooth-as-butter controls, vast character customization, and map variety.

Ghosts' biggest multiplayer addition is the soldier customization. There are a ton of unlockable faces, uniforms, weapons, and streaks to choose from, which you could spend hours tinkering with. The breadth is staggering and a bit overwhelming at first. Perks, weapons, and streaks are no longer automatically unlocked when you reach a level threshold--you purchase them by earning squad points. Unless you're a veteran player and know exactly how you want to outfit your character, you'll be doing some guesswork and experimentation, which can slow down your progress. On the other hand, with the huge number of options, you can truly create a soldier that works exactly how you want him or her (you can choose to play as a female soldier!) to function. Want to make a demolition class with extra grenades, an underbarrel grenade launcher, and increased explosive damage? Go for it.

Multiplayer also includes new game modes: Most notably Cranked and Blitz. Cranked is team deathmatch with a twist. Every time you get a kill, you have 30 seconds to kill again before you self destruct. It sounds like a blast, in theory, but I rarely felt any pressing immediacy to score a kill--either I found an enemy right away (resetting the timer) or got killed myself with plenty of time to spare, negating the rush-to-avoid-exploding concept entirely. Blitz was the most entertaining new mode. It's like running a gauntlet as every player attempts to move through the opposing team's defenses to reach the goal on the other side of the map. Because any player on a team can score, it's like playing a game of cat and mouse where you're both the cat and the mouse all at once. Good times.

Outside the multiplayer, you can also play with your friends in co-op. Infinity Ward has broken the co-op into two different modes: Squads and Extinction. Squads allows you to create a group of AI soldiers and play alongside them in various team vs. team and cooperative modes. While the concept of building your squad to challenge your friends sounds intriguing, it really just boils down to: you're really just playing multiplayer matches with bots. Even Ghosts'  Safeguard horde mode (another co-op mode in Squads), which pits players against waves of mindless, gun-toting enemies, is bland, especially compared to the thrill of fighting an army of enemies in the previous games' Spec Ops co-op.

Then there's Extinction, Infinity Ward's answer to Treyarch's Zombies. In it, you'll have to shoot your way through hordes of encroaching aliens as you attempt to destroy their nests, which are spread across the map. Blasting away at the aliens in Extinction doesn't hold the same novelty as shooting the undead, and the mode isn't as substantial an offering as Black Ops 2's Zombies mode simply because there's less to do. There's only a single Extinction mission to play through over and over as you grind your way up the ranks toward additional unlocks and class types. Until Infinity Ward releases new DLC Extinction missions, playing through the same alien-infested town will make that grind a long one.

All in all, Call of Duty: Ghosts takes the FPS formula established by its predecessors and doesn’t innovate. Instead, it just adds more. You’ll have more killstreaks and perks to choose from, more monsters to kill, and even more explosions to stagger away from. And while you’re running through a collapsing building for the hundredth time, the thrilling sensation and excitement you felt in the previous games is numbed. There are no memorable characters to hang on to, no jaw dropping twists--just more of what you've already seen before. The seller here is the multiplayer. The ability to completely customize your soldiers, the polished gameplay, and a few entertaining additions will keep you coming back to gun down your friends for hours on end. Just don't expect to be blown away.

More Info

Release date: Nov 05 2013 - PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Infinity Ward
Franchise: Call of Duty
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language

Ghosts is a cookie cutter game with a little touch of alien frosting on top. However, the well-designed multiplayer maps, soldier customization, and polished gameplay is more than enough to sink your teeth into.

This game was reviewed primarily on the PS4 at a review event.

56 comments

  • MattRosso - March 16, 2014 10:35 p.m.

    This game was made with the Noob in mind, no one else. I refuse to believe that a company such as Infinity Ward "accidentally" made a game with a multiplayer as bad as Ghosts. This absolutely had to be dileberate, it's just that terrible. Spawn structure is absolutely sporadic at best, coupled with the joke of a UAV replacement, the SAT COM, is just a recipe for disaster. The spawn layouts and lack of Radar usefulness have left this game in a state of campage like you've never seen before. Multiplayer is flat out boring if you're an experienced COD player, but it's a noobs paradise. If they do not plan on fixing the radar and spawns, then the least they could do is update BO2 for the players that don't suck and actually want to enjoy playing a real FPS game that isn't chaotically structured.
  • MilkDud2 - March 7, 2014 8 p.m.

    call of duty ghosts was ok, I think that the graphics could have been waaayy better , the story was kind of corny but after all the COD franchise is just in a bit of a slump. there is no need to hate! plus, the new dlcs look awesome which adds to GHOSTS best component, it s multiplayer! I really cant wait till this years new release, but my point is, everyone stop hatin!!!!!
  • forbes - February 12, 2014 4:32 p.m.

    I personally think people should stop hating each other because they either like cod or hate cod there is no reason you people can't play battlefield and cod so no need to bring up battlefield in this discussion some ppl prefer fast paced games (COD) and some prefer slow paced (BF)
  • beastxskiilz - February 9, 2014 7:57 p.m.

    and if you dont like what i have to say i dont give a fuck about your opinion the graphics were terrable and you cant see what the other players see if you kill them and you die after on your kill cam it will show that he killed you and that he lever die so people if you dont love how real i am die slow
  • beastxskiilz - February 9, 2014 7:52 p.m.

    ok im bout to turn up. call of duty is a broken,repetitive,irritating, game that has been over-rated since modern warfare 3. the reviews iv seen and read were garbage, this review doesn't even mention the PC version were alot of times i would walk along and randomly BAM the textures turn in to complete shit. this game will have you SUFFERING from an identity crisis like befor i even bought it i watched some game play and after the first MINUET i said to myself i know iv never played this game before but i swear iv played this before. this game is high way robbery its a copy and paste job every year and the fact that people are defending this game is unexceptionable why would you spend 60 dollers for the same game?iv never seen a game so identical from its predisessable form and the fact that the map packs cost 15 dollers? iv never seen a DLC thats over 10 dollars then this game came out im never buying a call of shit game EVER again this game was discussting
  • krol-carrasquillo - January 8, 2014 4:59 p.m.

    I love the call of duty games, but this game is the worst of them all. The maps are huge, you can even see well were the person is, the idea of the points just sucks, this game is the worst of them all.
  • iamtheman2 - December 7, 2013 1:47 p.m.

    you know what, whoever doesn't like GHOSTS is crazy the game blew me away. the multiplayer is AMAZING, the campaign is FANTASTIC, the underwater and space fighting was totally unexpected, I mean what more do you want!!!! I do have to admit I haven't played bf4 but im getting it for Christmas and the story could have better but JUST STOP HATIN !!!! YOU GUYS ARE STUPID !!!
  • william-vue - February 19, 2014 1:36 a.m.

    Iamtheman2....Well I think your stupid for buying this game and think this game is great kid...stop defending this cod shit....maps too huge, many campers, no ground war, game modes are boring as well, rented it and played for a while, your one of those camper that camps in the corner and 1 or 2 shots the other players...that's why this game is fun for ya...this game is for kids and noobs like you
  • gabriel-brest - April 21, 2014 12:05 p.m.

    Ya I don't know what you guys are seeing but I thought the graphics were amazing? And i have the season pass and to be honest, the first dlc is awesome! But everyone's entitled to there own opinion, and who knows if you didn't like ghosts maybe the next cod will be much better # PS4
  • FriskkMkay - December 3, 2013 9:47 p.m.

    how they rate this game 4/5 stars BLOWS MY FREAKING MIND. As an avid and loyal call of duty player, call of duty ghost puts the whole franchise to shame. Yes the game looks pretty, BUT THATS IT. The game play is horrible, the online multiplayer is unbearable, and honestly it seems as though they just put the game together so they could make guaranteed over the top sales. I play mostly for multiplayer and the maps are too big, and it seems as though they just copied and pasted the whole thing. The whole game just doesn't feel like a call of duty game AT ALL. At this point i wish Zipper Would come back and re-release socom 2. I guess a girl can dream :(
  • Kawlisse - January 2, 2014 4:16 a.m.

    Simple, they got paid by Activision :) this game is not even worth a 1 star !!! The PC version was just attrocious, bug filled, and a utter pain in the ass, I tried to get my money back and was of coursed denied...
  • beastxskiilz - February 9, 2014 8:03 p.m.

    you see people thats real shit
  • Asimpleguy - November 19, 2013 7:52 a.m.

    The game is a very fun game to me on multiplayer; the only problem I have with ghosts is the spawn system you an get spawn killed to much. So if the spawns can get fixed on ghost for the 360 that would help a lot of people out.
  • Waldo - November 12, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    That's too bad. Call me crazy, but I played the COD's for the campaigns. They make me feel like I am in an action movie. I play Battlefield for the multiplayer. Without the intense story, I can skip Ghosts and invest my time into BF4. Thanks for the review.
  • kamren-zinzow - November 7, 2013 9:50 p.m.

    This games mp sucks balls right now! I cant take fast I die I feel like im playing hardcore when im really just olaying normal tdm but when I look at my kill cam it shows me being shot a bunch of times when it didnt seem like I did! Not to mention the shoot first die first theory! I dont think I will play online anymore till they patch these problems and thats if they do! I will only play for double xp and thats it until its supposedly patched
  • Shadow Of Death - November 6, 2013 9:57 p.m.

    Bullet point lists two positives, 3 negatives. Main story is apparently rubbish in the reviewer's opinion. Still gives it 4/5? If the Multiplayer is the main reason anyone cares about CoD, then they should just start making Multiplayer-only CoD games and be done with it. Of course, then they wouldn't be able to justify a new release every year...Right, right. I expect at some point (if it's not already in the works) that they'll release a Multiplayer CoD game with greater scope and of course microtransactions. WIll they go the F2P route from the start? I dunno. I don't have a problem with the series myself, I liked Modern Warfare and all, but it seems they're just churning out a title a year for the sake of using it as a cash crop. Still, it's good business for them, as people keep buying the titles. I'd do that if I could, if it meant megabucks.
  • C.King - November 7, 2013 9:35 a.m.

    IKR! weird when you mainly look at the bullets for reviews out of curiousity

Showing 1-20 of 56 comments

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