First of all, it's Call of Duty. Of course you've got some of the best feeling FPS controls in the genre, and thankfully this time around most of the weapons and weapon sound effects are fun and satisfying to use. The campaign also has some legitimately cool and fun moments such as "Federation Day" as well as the under-water and space levels.
The writing is horrible, and not even the good kind of horrible that you can take as dumb fun, it's just bad. The dialogue is really bland, with some of the least memorable characters Call of Duty has had since the original Call of Duty 1 and 2. The only character that has any personality to him is Rorke, and even then that's mainly from the voice actor as well as the 3D character model doing a great job, because as a character he makes no sense to an infuriating degree. Apparently getting tortured for a while is a good way to turn anyone unquestioningly evil and send him on his way to murder his best friends according to this game. The dialogue doesn't even match up with the visuals some times, for example, they all act like Elias chose to let Rorke fall, when you clearly see in the scene there was no way in heck Rorke could have been saved. Yet, they still try and make that a big deal and plot point for motivation for Rorke to hate everyone and for the main characters to feel bad. There is also a section where Rorke brutally murders one of the main characters, but it falls completely flat. Why? Because none of these characters have any character, and you just can't bring yourself to care about them. It feels like they designed the Michael Bay style set-pieces to show off for the trailers and then squeezed in the story later as an after-thought. Finally, I hope you weren't hoping for a decent ending, no loose ends are tied and the game even leaves you on a nonsensical cliffhanger that may as well have had a "Pre-Order Call of Duty: Ghosts 2 now!" flash up after it.
The rest of the campaign, besides certain highlights, is just your basic Call of Duty affair. Nothing special, which as this is the series tenth installment, is becoming less and less forgivable. The campaign is ultimately passable, but I'd honestly say it's the worst of the non-"classic" Call of Duty campaigns.
Good GOD, my time with this game was infuriating. I kept forcing myself to go back and play more since the game was rented, but I groaned every time. Remember how MW3's map designs seemed to be built around preventing camping, and how Black Ops II had things like the millimeter scanner and not only made Ghost harder to get but also made it so that it only worked while moving, because camping is a cheap tactic that wrecks everyone's fun? Welp, Call of Duty: Ghosts ignores all of that completely. Hope you like getting killed by mines and someone hiding behind a corner half the time, because that's how this game goes. I ended up going on a five-death streak from a recent match just from unavoidable hazards right in front of where the game spawned me.
Create-a-Class seems to have gone backwards this time around. Black Ops II used the pick-ten system, which had a perfect balance of remaining optionally simple, but giving you just enough extra options to allow you to have more control over customizing your class without it being over-whelming. Ghosts on the other hand, says "*bleep* ALL THAT NONSENSE, LET'S MAKE IT AS COMPLICATED AS POSSIBLE AND BASE IT ENTIRELY ON PERKS!!!" So basically, they decided to center it around perks, of which now there are tons of, and they aren't separated into categories, instead being thrown into one big mass of different point values, making it far more complicated then it needed to be and also further encouraging players to find over-powered set-ups to help the game move away from being skill-based and more towards "who had the best class equipped?"
Create-a-Class did almost do something right, they did what I thought Black Ops II was doing in that you get purchase points that you can use to purchase new equipment and you can select anything you want so there are no restrictions based on rank. That would be great if they didn't make the economy GARBAGE. It shouldn't be at level twenty and only have three basic classes, Infinity Ward. They have made it so that you get so little points so slowly that you really have no room for experimentation anymore, unless you dump alot of time into the game, you better hope your weapon unlock choices were good ones. Also while strike-packages are back they also chose to ignore Black Ops II again by going back to point streaks rather then score streaks. Yes, score streaks were a little unbalanced in some game modes, but that just means you rebalance them, not remove them entirely! They were a great idea that if handled properly could add much more balance, and I personally thought seeing the score bring my meter up to my next award from doing anything was alot more exciting then just getting one point when I kill someone or take an objective.
The squads mode falls completely flat if you intend to play online and haven't spent massive amounts of time in the multiplayer, and by that I mean the kind of time that would have you at fifth prestige in Black Ops II. They use your multiplayer unlocks for squads, you know the slow ones that barely give you any unlock points? The point is wrecked if I can't have a large fully customized squad! That problem is fixed if you go offline but then you have to manage the load-outs for all of your soldiers, and the new perk system just makes all those classes you have to make extra frustrating.
Also finally the maps, where it's nice they were a bit more sniper-friendly this time around, they also are "Let's camp in a corner with a shotgun!" friendly as well. The dynamic elements ultimately add nothing, as all of my matches were unnoticeably affected by them, they actually just felt like they were just shoved in there because they were trying to compete with Battlefield for some reason. I just don't get it. Also I don't generally talk about visuals but alot of maps are down-right ugly to look at, with a boring art design and mix-match quality textures to boot. While some textures look alright, others like like something you'd expect on a PS2 game. It's rather inconsistent and quite perplexing.
Also the game now has a system where you pick up a blue floating brief case and it rewards you with a care package for tea-bagging, so take that as you will.
This... mode... is... boring... I played it with a couple friends who also got PS4s, and good God, the objectives were all drawn out way too long, and the aliens just weren't fun to fight. We were all bored to tears, and had to cleanse ourselves by turning our 360s back on and playing some Black Ops II. Going back to the sound issue, remember when in zombies on Black Ops II the zombies often times ran at you really fast and constantly were making loud, threatening, warped yells, that made them come off as an actual threat? These aliens are mostly quiet and move around really slowly. Your bullets don't seem to have any meaningful and satisfying impact on them either, it's just bad. They seem to have gone for a Left 4 Dead format but also forgot some of Left 4 Dead's core concept such as the special zombies that would incapacitate players, forcing the players to rely on each other to survive, you know, like a co-op game should. Oh but there is something you need to rely on your teammates for, it's just exactly the kind of thing that shouldn't have been!!! They brought over the challenge idea from Spec Ops survival, but they made it so that it's not just for one player, if ONE player fails the challenge EVERYONE gets screwed over, so good luck playing with randoms, and even with coordinated friends it's surprisingly easy to forget to check the challenge and slip up screwing everyone over.
- It's Call of Duty
- Some cool moments in campaign
- Blitz mode is fun
- Abysmal writing
- Mostly under-whelming campaign
- Multiplayer caters to cheap tactics
- Over-complicated create-a-class
- Mines, mines EVERYWHERE
- Ranking up and unlocks are too slow
- Extinction is boring
It's passable, it's a game, it gets the job done, it's fun. The problem is that it has nine games behind it, almost all of which are arguably alot better. I expect alot more from this franchise, especially after Black Ops II's quality. Where you could tell Treyarch put care and passion into their game, Ghosts feels like it was just spat out with no true vision. Infinity Ward is continuing to show it's a shadow of it's former self, most likely due to most of the leads going to work on Titanfall.
I wanted so badly to like this game so that I had an excuse to spend some more time on my new console, and while it's passable just as a game, it's out-right bad as a Call of Duty game, with one of the most insignificant and forgettable campaigns the series has had, frustrating multiplayer that feels like a step backwards, and a boring Extinction mode, I can't recommend Call of Duty: Ghosts at almost any price. I know you want a game for your next-gen console, but you should probably spend your money somewhere else, whether it's on a different game for your console or for one of the older, better entries in the series for your old console. There's no rule saying you can't still enjoy your 360 or PS3. Ghosts, I'm sad to say, is simply a disgrace to this great franchise.
Originally written January 6th, 2014. Photos taken by me using the PS4's share function.