Ask a serious gamer about Call Of Duty, and you’re liable to get more than a few disdainful sniffs, before they mention ‘COD noobs’ and lament anything that came after Modern Warfare. Certainly, the spectre of simplistic multiplayer and scripted, linear story campaigns hangs over the Call of Duty franchise: but Ghosts supposedly marks a new chapter for the franchise- a franchise which has exploded into the public consciousness and sold millions of copies repeatedly. The question is: can it deliver?

For those not in the know, Call of Duty is developed by two separate studios- Infinity Ward, that handle Modern Warfare and, now, Ghosts, and Treyarch, who work on Black Ops. They each release a game every two years, timed to make sure a new Call of Duty comes out every year. Modern Warfare may be the more well known brand, but most players will tell you that Treyarch make the better product. And, unfortunately, they still have a point. Call of Duty: Ghosts has joined the collection of games released recently that suffer from early bugs and issues- although not to the same degree as Battlefield 4 and Batman: Arkham Origins. The PC version is full of bad graphical glitches, random freezing, and occasional server crashes. While first day/ week graphical issues sometimes happen, the recent spate of ones that could, potentially, break your game is pretty unacceptable. Console versions seem to be suffering less from this, but still, it pays to be careful. In general the PC version is pretty badly ported- A complete lack of FOV slider, the aforementioned graphical glitches, and an overall iffy graphical quality compared to other games. The console version should be up to scratch (though, obviously, we have yet to see how it will run on PS4/ Xbox One), but it’s difficult to judge.  It’s not dreadful, but it’s worth noting that Treyarch managed to get a lot of this right last year. Why Infinity Ward can’t manage it is a discussion for another day.

Single player wise, the campaign seems to have taken a (slight) step back from the excesses of Modern Warfare 3. The story is still ridiculous- South America teams up to form the Federation, and America has to deal with it with its new ‘Ghosts’ unit- because obviously, no-one else is any more competent- but gone are the crumbling Eiffel Towers of yesteryear. Oh, sure, there’s a space segment, and a tank section with ridiculously lightweight controls that make you feel like you’re piloting a ballerina, not a juggernaut of death. And the campaign still likes to send you down corridors far too often, which chafes after a session of Battlefield or Planetside. But the slightly more restrained feel and varied sections is a welcome change: though, bizarrely, the story ends on a cliffhanger and a ‘see you in the sequel’ moment- an odd choice for the first story in a series.

Multiplayer isn’t exactly what you expect- there are some surprising new additions. The ability to buy new weapons using ‘Squad Points’, which are points earned ingame, is an idea they’ve finally brought over from Treyarch- a very good choice, as it erases the irritating grind for better guns that made so little sense in previous games. Character customisation is now a thing, including the welcome addition of female characters. Characters now get four perks (abilities and upgrades) instead of three, and the killstreak system (a way of rewarding players for their amount of kills before dying) has been reworked. There are several new modes as well: Hunted, which relies on you picking up better equipment from airdrops, Cranked, a game mode that rewards you for quick kills, and Blitz, which kind of works like Capture the Flag. The game does feel like it’s trying new things- but at the same time, it’s hampered by its need to please its fanbase. Everything feels a little too generic, a little too much like Modern Warfare 3. Gone are some of the more interesting weapons of the last Black Ops- instead, it’s back to the ever so slightly futuristic weapons. Which are basically current weapons without the trademarks that mean royalties.

Extinction is a Co-operative mode, played in a squad of four, where the objective is to progress through a level, destroying alien pods and murdering the hordes of extraterrestrial beasties. The mode is pleasant- there is a feel of urgency, and certainly a nice difficulty curve, that adds some tension to the proceedings. Weapons are bought in a similar way to Black Ops Zombie modes, and the aliens themselves are, if not original, at least refreshingly agile compared to the aforementioned walking dead. There are still issues- it threatens to become repetitive, and the sub-missions need to be fixed in order to prevent ignorance costing you points- but it’s nice to see at least some originality being attempted by Infinity Ward.

To sum up, then, COD Ghosts is the same old COD with a brand new but shoddily applied lick of paint, some new features that generally improve the game (but not by much), and the same old multiplayer that divides the gaming public. If you liked it before, you’ll love what they’ve done to it now. If you didn’t, it’s probably worth picking up Battlefield 4. At least, in a month’s time, when they’ve patched it.

Alex Davies


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