Call of Duty: Ghosts Xbox 360 Review

Author: Lydia Sung
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Friday, November 15th, 2013
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/call_of_duty_ghosts/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Call of Duty: Ghosts is the latest annual installment in this long-standing shooter franchise. Who hasn't heard of Call of Duty by now? For better or worse, the Call of Duty series has remained one of the top-selling names in gaming, and while Call of Duty: Ghosts hasn't broken any records set by its predecessors, it's still the most-played game on Xbox LIVE right now.

I'm not what you would call a fan of the series, I've gleaned enough enjoyment from the various Modern Warfare games to at least like the Call of Duty name. Yet Black Ops was around when I lost interest, after action seemed to overshadow narrative intrigue, and enemies wouldn’t stop charging out of some monster closet hidden in an inaccessible corner of the map. Well, that’s no longer an issue.

Ghosts represents what I wanted from Modern Warfare 3, and I’m quite happy with that. There’s a familiarity to it that the last several Call of Duty games just seemed to lack, and all the changes that Infinity Ward implemented to multiplayer only confirms that this is a series Activision will continue supporting into the next-gen. The dog was pretty cool, too.

The Homefront

In Call of Duty: Ghosts, the foreign threat is brought directly to the United States. It’s certainly not an isolated attack either. Rather, a South American group known as “The Federation” hijacks a military weapons satellite and lays waste to the US. Giant laser beams from space blowing the hell out of populated cities? That’ll do it. The result is an almost post-apocalyptic setting, as we’re introduced to an alternate universe where the US is occupied by hostile forces, and citizens are just as easily executed as soldiers.

Brothers and protagonists Logan and Hesh offer us a window into this dark setting. Eventually, the two will join with an elite military group known as “Ghosts,” soldiers known and feared for their expert stealth and guerilla tactics. Not that Call of Duty has suddenly become a stealth game. In fact, Ghosts is still very much an action shooter, with all the gunfights and explosions you’d expect from at Michael Bay film. Stealth is more prevalent in Ghosts than any recent Call of Duty, as far as I can remember. The brothers’ German Shepherd, Riley, plays a large part in some of these stealth sequences, during which you can actually control the dog and pull off some brutal stealth kills. Who needs a knife when you’ve got all those teeth?

Overall, the game is much more accommodating of differing play styles. If you like to run and gun, then you can, of course, still do so. However, players like myself who prefer a more subtle approach are entirely free to use their preferred methods. Sniper rifles dropped during firefights give you the option to be a calculating killer – or not. This, for me, is one of the best changes to the single-player campaign. One of my biggest annoyances with the Black Ops games and Modern Warfare 3 was how unforgiving the enemies were in their numbers. Not everyone wants to be Rambo, after all.

Aside from the improved spawn rates, Call of Duty: Ghosts also introduces a few new mechanics that might add an extra bit of immersion for any players who care about that sort of thing. Climbing over objects feels noticeably better, with movement transitions being smoother. This includes everything from sliding to leaning. Rather than being a separate action with its own button, leaning around cover just requires aiming, so long as you see the little yellow arrow indicating a “leaning” is allowed. Sliding, which I consider to be one of the most useful gameplay additions to Call of Duty, allows you to hit the crouch button and slide into a prone position directly from sprinting. Definitely a nice feature to have, especially in multiplayer.

The campaign story is what I’d consider an improvement over the last few Call of Duty games as well, and that’s probably to be expected, seeing as how writer Stephen Gaghan was brought in for the job. While I wouldn’t call the Ghost plot a stellar example of video game storytelling, it’s not without strengths, with plenty of “holy crap” moments. Sure, you can guess a good portion of events before they happen on-screen, but several plot twists still manage to find their way in, including one at the very end. A direct sequel is practically inevitable.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer in Ghosts has undergone some significant changes, with new player customization, dynamic maps, and the new game mechanics mentioned above. Heck, you can actually play as a female soldier for the first time in Call of Duty history. Yet Ghosts remains fundamentally Call of Duty at its very core, maintaining enough familiarity to keep its fanbase comfortable. You’ll still experience the same frenetic, action-heavy environment, and any gameplay improves – like sliding – just add to that.

While the much-loved Zombies mode is gone, Ghosts players still have options beyond the traditional multiplayer, which not everyone who plays Call of Duty can claim to enjoy. This time, you have Squads and Extinction as alternatives, the latter being rather similar to Treyarch’s Zombies. In the new Extinction mode, players team up to fight off hordes of aliens, complete with weapons, upgrades, and a total of 30 levels to strive toward. As you progress, more defenses are unlocked. Like I said: very similar to Zombies.

The other new mode, Squads, is tied closely to the main multiplayer experience. Here, you create and level AI-controlled soldiers, who share progression with multiplayer. Leveling one will improve the other as well. Competitive modes are available in the deathmatch and team deathmatch varieties, just under names like “Squad vs Squad” and “Squad Assault.” Alternatively, a squad survival mode gives players a more cooperative experience, letting you team up your squads to fend off waves of AI enemies. 

I should note that Call of Duty’s competitive multiplayer is still not my favorite, as far as shooters go, namely due to my distaste for the focus on action. Despite all the features, I’m still left wanting when it comes to player freedom. That said, I do recognize the distinct style this game has, setting it apart from competitors like Battlefield and ArmA.

Final Thoughts

What more can be said about Call of Duty: Ghosts? At the end of the day, for better or worse, it is a Call of Duty game. For the series’ massive fanbase, however, it’s another step forward, a sign that their favorite tactical (action) shooter isn’t going stagnant despite its age and popularity. All the changes, as far as I’m concerned, are a positive thing and come just in time for the next-gen transition.

Do I have any complaints? Sure, and they’re the same complaints as I’ve always had about Call of Duty. For one, I would really like a longer campaign, where the narrative can be presented at an easier pace. I can’t complain much about the linearity, because not having to think too much is sometimes a good thing when you’re shooting bad guys. As for the dog? I loved Riley so much. Go ahead and keep the “Call of Dog” joke going, because Riley is definitely worth it.

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