“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” This has defined the Call of Duty franchise in recent years. Call of Duty: Ghosts, the 10th installment in the series, struggles to reinvigorate and capture the success of earlier titles. Maybe it’s time for us to put this old girl down. This is the VGU.TV review for Call of Duty: Ghosts.
I went into Call of Duty: Ghosts with my expectation low; this was the result of previous COD titles failing to achieve the standards that the franchise once held. The new Infinity Ward (IW) team – working with Neversoft and Raven Software – produced a title that lacks serious substance in terms of innovation. Personally, I found Call of Duty: Ghosts at times, nothing more than a recycled copy of Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3. This was evident on several occasions, including the blatant ‘cut and paste’ ending from Modern Warfare 2 used at the beginning of Ghosts. Infinity Ward really does need to return to the drawing board for the next title or take a serious lesson from Treyarch. Albeit Treyarch doesn’t produce the best standards in its COD titles but it has done a far better job than IW in recent years. This Infinity Ward team is really out of its depth compared with the original team. I really think that the team should be fully working on the title, rather than a certain portion. The Raven Software, IW and Neversoft combo isn’t really going to harness the potential that COD could be achieving. The title does have some particular features which I enjoyed but, it’s still lacking the flair that made the earlier installments so successful.
I am about to probe into the covenant ark of the franchise: the multiplayer. The multiplayer from COD will always remain the focus point and it doesn’t improve with Ghosts. The Infinity Ward engine is something which really needs to be changed. It worked perfectly in Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 but since then, it seems rather bland for the newer entries. It makes Modern Warfare 3 and Ghosts seem like a continuous rehash of the previous installments. Personally I think it’s time for them to look for an alternative engine which would better suit future titles. Visually, it doesn’t make Ghosts look at its best. Many would even consider that Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2 or Black Ops look far better.The introduction of a new engine for a new COD title on next-generation could really be something.
The online is decent at times but it continues to offer that frustrating aspect which COD titles are known for. There are moments when a 1 vs 1 battle doesn’t seem to roll out as it should. Pelting the enemy with half a clip and ending dead is really frustrating. The same applies for shooting someone when they’re running at you and they knife you. It makes you feel as if your bullets are non-existent. It seems like the real balance is yet to be found in the online and a huge deal of improvement can be made. I’m also reserved about the future of this title’s multiplayer, especially after the franchise has a known reputation for breaking down in the following months (mainly due to weapon imbalance or glitches being found). Ground War (9 vs. 9 Domination/Team Deathmatch) has also been removed from the multiplayer and a cap of 6 vs. 6 online introduced. This is annoying when popular modes are removed from the franchise and not returned in subsequent titles; this was the case with ‘War’ in Call of Duty: World at War.
Thus far I have been pretty negative about Ghosts but there are some notable introductions which I enjoyed. The knife animation is a warmly welcomed addition into the online. Adding onto this is the custom class layout which is extremely well detailed, allowing players the opportunity to form some serious customization. This also includes the Marksman Rifles, which have been integrated nicely into the weapon classes. The killstreak load-outs return in their three tier set: Assault, Support and Specialist. Furthermore this allows for the opportunity to mix and match set-ups which suit your play style. The reduction made in air-based kill streaks adds for a better balance in the online. Placements of the SAT COM (formerly UAV) are important decisions for the player; especially since people are more likely to destroy them compared with previous titles. The introduction of Cranked is hilarious, bizarre, and fun. It offers an alternative to some of the competitive modes like TDM, Domination, or Search and Destroy whilst retaining a certain level of seriousness. I found the introduction of Blitz as a competitive and intense game mode. Consisting of two rounds, the objective is to capture the opposition’s base. The knee slide feature worked wonders in this mode.
Following on from my last point, the knee slide has to be one of the best additions to COD in recent years. The Dolphin Dive in Black Ops wasn’t the best introduction as it left you more exposed than anything. The knee slide is convenient for pushing into cover and capturing objectives. The leaning system is a feature which is really nice but it doesn’t seem to work well in the title. Standing behind cover and wanting to lean around is often tricky as it may not respond at times. Adding onto this, COD is very high paced in the gameplay which means that its full potential is wasted at times. It was a nice idea and hopefully it’ll be looked at more in the next title.
‘Squads’ seems to be one of the finer additions to Ghosts. Infinity Ward has developed on the ‘Survival’ mode from Modern Warfare 3 and greatly expanded it. Players can form their own ‘clans’ and compete against others competitively. Matches can also be made against A.I bots; helping newcomers to the multiplayer or the opportunity to feel more familiar with the maps. This is a feature which people have enjoyed in subsequent COD titles since its debut in Call of Duty: Black Ops. Safeguard is the best mode from squads, in which players are pitted against waves of enemies. The mode allows for up to four players in one session and the ability to join if there’s an empty slot. Players have the ability to build their characters with the supply drops which vary from killstreaks, weapons, and perks. The mode is a nice addition to the title and offers the opportunity to rank up online at the same time.
Extinction is a mode which was announced shortly before release. I was extremely skeptical at the idea believing that it would be terrible. In fact, the mode isn’t too bad. Offering the opportunity to play solo or four player; the objective is to destroy alien hives using a drill. Players must protect the drill whilst being ambushed by a horde of aliens. The further the players progress, the more upgrades and abilities they can purchase. They can also rank up, unlocking different tiers which can help team mates. I progressed quite far in my first try and it really does pick up in difficulty. It’s a fun mode to play with friends and offers an alternative to the zombies from Treyarch’s series. I don’t think it’s better than zombies but it’s still entertaining with friends. My major issue with this mode is that it can’t be paused, which is really inconvenient. This also applied for COD zombies and I don’t understand why it hasn’t been introduced.
The single player story has been improved in Ghosts. COD retains the option of four difficulties: Recruit, Regular, Hardened, and Veteran. The campaign is about eight hours on regular which feels like the perfect balance for the story. It offers enough action packed moments so that the game doesn’t get to the point when it becomes boring. I went into the story expecting to hate it after the abysmal Modern Warfare 3 campaign. However to my surprise, the campaign served to be a nice treat. Riley serves as one of the best additions to the story and gameplay. I was disappointed that the developers didn’t utilize him more but it was a nice feature none the less. There were moments which I really judged Infinity Ward for what they were doing. Most people will be aware of the plane sequence, which was a blatant rip off from The Dark Knight Rises. Homage? No, don’t even try to justify it like that Infinity Ward.
Call of Duty: Ghosts was a rather disappointing title from the franchise. With so much potential built behind this title, I had that glimmer of hope which most people would deny; that this would be the installment which would bring back the raw FPS nature back to the franchise. There is the introduction of some enjoyable features but the title still struggles in terms of competing with some of the past titles. I warned in my preview that COD could face some stiff competition from other FPS titles like Battlefield 4. Adding to this is the imminent arrival of Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall next year. COD really could be put on the back foot with this franchise failing to deliver the goods. It’ll be interesting to see how this title will fare on the next-generation consoles. With COD being confirmed in 2014, it’ll be down to Treyarch to show us what it can do with the next-generation hardware. COD: Ghosts is an average title from the series and doesn’t produce something to push the franchise forward. For that reason, I’m giving Call of Duty: Ghosts a Grade C.