STAFF REVIEW of Call of Duty: Ghosts (Xbox 360)

Monday, November 11, 2013.
by Brent Roberts

Call of Duty: Ghosts Box art Another battle in the frantic world of first person shooters (FPS) has begun. The never ending war between Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty is back in full swing and this time, Call of Duty: Ghosts takes aim to secure the crown and if the 1 billion (yes billion with a b) in launch day sales doesn't catch your eye, Infinity Ward has two discs of content ready to finish the job. The Call of Duty franchise has seen a volatile history not only between Infinity Ward and Treyarch, but between Activision itself and Infinity Ward. Talks about grand developments were blended with a massive media onslaught and then the fuse was lit. Call of Duty: Ghosts exploded out of the gates on day 1 with 1 billion in sales, however instead of a global cheer of happiness and excitement; there was a global roar of displeasure and ill will. This new Call of Duty: Ghosts seems to be gutted from versions we have played before, but how can this be? Well after reading this, you'll see why:

A) The war between Activision-Infinity Ward-Treyarch has cost the series greatly.


B) I'm going back to Black Ops 2 for my Call of Duty fix.

In the past the Call of Duty plot lines were fairly straightforward and may have presented "omg" moments via the plot but more often were done through over the top cinematic sequences that tried to give gamers a grand perspective of everything going on. This Call of Duty is no different. A massive war is ongoing against The Federation and it is up to you and your team of Ghosts to infiltrate and tip the scales of power in your favor in order to save mankind. The story is following the same watered down suit as we've experienced before in the past and even though the situations have been more over the top than before, the bond with the dog Riley seems to be the best part of the story.

Honestly I never really cared for the story of the Call of Duty games as there never was any real depth or emotional connection. Other games such as Final Fantasy VII or the original Bioshock offered much deeper stories that grasped the gamer and provided a phenomenal storyline. Call of Duty games never seemed to have that; and even though there is a dog in the game, it's a shame that his presence is the best part of the story. What's even more of a shame is that the story is the best part of Call of Duty: Ghosts and here's the reason why:

Multiplayer has always been the heart and soul of the Call of Duty games. Providing a 15 hour or so campaign was nice, but gamers over the globe invested billions of hours online which makes any form of multiplayer that much more important. Earlier I mentioned that Call of Duty: Ghosts seems to be gutted from earlier versions of CoD games and this is where things go from bad to worse. For starters if you wanted to do Co-Op anything you have two choices:

1) Squad mode - which pits you and up to five other people against computer AI throughout various levels. There are different modes to go through, but nothing really groundbreaking or worth justifying a $60 day one purchase.

2) Extinction - I feel that this replaces the zombie mode as now you are trying to eliminate a hostile alien race with extreme prejudice. Yup you fight aliens in Call of Duty. Now I've seen everything.

Neither mode really stood out as something earth shattering which was disappointing given that there is so much potential that isn't being utilized for whatever reason.

Also earlier I mentioned briefly about the battle going on at Activision with Infinity Ward and Treyarch. The reason I mentioned this was because originally the battle was between Infinity Ward and Treyarch to create the best Call of Duty experience you could find on any platform. This was the case for years until the battle switched between Infinity Ward and Activision. Without recalling all the events that took place, the end result was Infinity Ward essentially being stripped down and forced to restaff due to departures. While Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 did get released with the assistance of Sledgehammer Games, Call of Duty: Ghosts is the first Call of Duty title from the new Infinity Ward only. This plays a significant role because Ghosts, pales in comparison to not only past Infinity Ward games, but Treyarch as well. This dynamic shift has had tremendous consequences and not all of them are good. Starting first with the graphics.

Poor. Bad. Outdated. Less quality than Black Ops 2. Take your pick but all of them are easy, one word descriptions that justify the graphics of this game. Buildings seem bland with little to no attention to detail, and upon closer examination of your entire environment, you will easily see a lack of effort in creating a visual masterpiece. Even the dog itself looks better, but upon closer examination looks as if Infinity Ward needs to ramp up on the graphics technology if they are going to have any success moving forward.

Not only are the graphics mildly impressive to begin with, you will also have to contend with frame rate issues throughout the game, which leaves you wondering, "With all this technology available that has created eye blinding beauty in the past, why not use it now?". With games like Battlefield 4 already out, dealing with frame rate issues on graphics that look very outdated isn't something that Call of Duty fans around the globe want to face. But yet they have to. This is even more evident when considering that the Xbox One version of Call of Duty is native at 720p and will only upscale to 1080p. Things have just gone from a downward spiral, to an unhindered free-fall; and the worst is yet to come.

The multiplayer aspect is one that we agree on is the most important for a Call of Duty game because it helps to deliver a very high replay value to gamers, and if that suffers, then so does the replay value, and it's here that we find some of the greatest changes to Call of Duty: Ghosts. Theater mode is now nonexistent. UAV's are but a memory. No Headquarters mode or Hardpoint and I don't know why. Instead of UAV's flying overhead they have been replaced by a deployable item called a SAT COM which sits on the ground and after enough have been activated, a UAV style scan starts to appear. Gone is the dive and it's replaced by a double knee slide (like your soldier went to rock star camp). Starting out you will have access to one squad member out of a total of 10. Each of these squad members has six loadouts, however, you only have access to three of them and you have to unlock them with Squad Points. These points are the currency you need to unlock pretty much everything within the multiplayer game. Weapons, attachments, perks, score streaks, squad mates, loadout slots, and even requesting new objectives cost Squad Points.

Squad points are gained by completing objectives, on the field challenges and ranking up. The field challenges are done by picking up blue briefcases which gives you a random objective to complete. These objectives could range from things like getting two kills while crouched, to killing someone from behind, to even teabagging your victim. Completing these field objectives will net you one Squad Point. You get two Squad Points for reaching the next rank and you get one Squad Point per completed objective. If you get more completed objectives then you can get up to four bonus squad points. Now take into account that some squad members cost over 200 squad points and that some weapon cost over 10 and some perks cost over 15 and you can start to see that if you want to unlock everything you will be investing a good portion of your remaining life to Call of Duty: Ghosts. That is, if it was worth the time.

This new style doesn't seem to feel right given the fact that with Black Ops 2, gamers got to unlock scopes and attachments by utilizing the weapon more and more, instead of just spending squad points to unlock everything. Yes you had unlock points but now you don't need to level anything up to unlock what you want, so if you wanted to, right from the beginning, you can safe up enough points and buy the under barrel grenade attachment for your assault rifle, instead of having to level the weapon itself up (which I may point out, required more dedication than saving points for a purchase).

Another massive blow to Call of Duty: Ghost's multiplayer system is that it only supports up to 12 players in some game modes, not all. When you take into account that the competition offers up 24 player combat (current gen), only providing 12 players on some modes simply doesn't make the cut. What was Infinity Ward thinking? If your competition allows for 24 players, then why cut back by half? It may be because they want to keep the frame rate smooth, however, when you factor in the average graphics of the multiplayer, that doesn't seem to be a logical reason.

On top of all of this the new levels feel much larger in size which means you'll spend more time running around seeing nobody only to be picked off by a camping sniper that’s tucked away in a corner and forced to respawn and do it all over again. With these larger maps you will notice an increase in more tactical gameplay, which is a nice way of saying there's going to be a dramatic increase in camping. All these maps feel that they could have supported larger groups than just 12, but sadly they don't. There's even a new infected multiplayer mode which seems like it took a page straight out of the Halo universe as you're armed with shotguns and the goal of the infected is to kill those who aren't. There are some other new variants and new multiplayer modes, but with an almost straight copy of Halo's infected gameplay and the removal of Hardpoint and Headquarters, you will find a better multiplayer experience in Black Ops 2.

Without question Call of Duty: Ghosts delivers a relatively enjoyable first person shooter experience, however we as gamers have become accustomed to more bells, whistles, innovations, and improvements and sadly we find very little of all of those in this title. Sure your stats carry over from the Xbox 360 version to the Xbox One version, but given the minimal upgrade when moving to the next gen consoles, Call of Duty: Ghosts is still in a world of hurt. With Ghosts being gutted and reduced to a shell of what it could be, the competition providing 24 player matches, a Squad Point system that would be worth investing months into if the multiplayer was better quality, a native 720p performance on the Xbox One, better replay value from older titles and more; Call of Duty: Ghosts is a massive disappointment and for those reasons, if you want a top quality Call of Duty experience, stay with Black Ops 2. There is a silver lining though to this whole debacle and that is we as gamers won't have to wait long for the next Call of Duty game to come out.

On a personal note I want to say a big thank you to Activision for their campaign to help find Veterans jobs when they return home from service. This is a wonderful campaign and I wish them all the success in the world for honoring our real world heroes. If you wish to contribute you can go to your local retailer (mine was EB games) and there they should have a metal dog tag in a package which you can pick up for less than $6.00 and ALL PROCEEDS go to helping veterans gain employment.

As for improving Call of Duty: Ghosts though, without question improve the graphics. Keep the format from Black Ops 2 as a foundation for improvements. Try not to get over excited and remove more than you should. Improve the graphics. Increase the amount of gamers that can play in a match from 12 to 24. Do away with Squad Points. Revamp multiplayer in all aspects.

Overall: 7.2 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.5 / 10
Sound: 7.4 / 10


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