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When Call of Duty: Ghosts was released in November 2013, it was met with a mixed response from critics, mixed to negative response from players, and much lower sales than Black Ops II.  Now that Advanced Warfare is out, and projected to sell even less copies, it made me wonder about Ghosts.  Is this game to blame for the decline in Call of Duty's popularity?  Is it really as bad as people say it is?  I know that I hated it at release.  However, I now feel like the game deserves a second look, since we now have both its predecessors and a successor to compare it to.

The Bad

Since the popular opinion of Ghosts is negative, I'll list where I think the critics are right.

  • The campaign is lackluster and the plot makes not a whole lot of sense.  I won't spoil the ending, but most people including myself, were disappointed.  I won't say any more about the campaign, since it's not really a big factor for me.
  • The spawns were initially horrible in multiplayer.  I could kill the same player several times within a few seconds in Team Deathmatch.  This was one of the most glaring problems at release, but post-patch, it doesn't happen anymore.
  • The game was badly optimized on PC.  The situation has improved somewhat with patches, but it would have been much better if they didn't make so many drastic changes to the engine.  It runs fine on my PC but there is unavoidable lag in certain places.
  • The game just looks "ugly" to me.  The colors are washed out in many places and the gameplay is affected by poor visibility on many maps.  On last-gen consoles especially, you are not in for a treat visually compared to Black Ops II or even MW3.  I think this is caused by trying too hard to look "next-gen" and not just creating a visually appealing game like Treyarch did.
  • Many of the killstreaks in multiplayer are idiotic and infuriating.  I already get irritated by other players running around with a knife, but a Juggernaut with one?  The dogs are extremely hard to kill, they can survive quite a few shots from my Mk14 EBR, and their behavior of rolling after being shot makes them difficult to finish off.  They are more agile than the dogs I remember from the other Call of Duty games.
  • Some maps are horribly designed in my opinion.  Stonehaven is the sniper's favorite, but it is very hard to see anything and camping is actually much worse then I expected.  Octane is a very washed out map, and there are too many camping places.  Warhawk also has a lot of people camping on the large sign on the street in the middle of the map.
  • A lot of the DLC is just silly.  Weed camos, Michael Myers and Predator, where does it end?  I wonder if this is serious or just CoD trying to make more money by poking fun at itself.  The Predator's death explosion is quite unfair to the other team.  If Arnold Schwarzenegger could escape in time, why can't you?

The Good

  • I think the weapon balance was good overall compared to some of the other games.  This is likely to be controversial, but I didn't really see any major balancing issues.  I can't think of one entire category of weapons that dominates over all the others.  In Black Ops II, the SMGs (rivaled only by shotguns and a select few ARs) ran the show, and this seems to be a recurring theme in Treyarch's games.  In MW3 there wasn't a standout category, but the MP7 and ACR just seemed cheap.
  • The new marksman rifle category is fantastic.  High damage semi-automatic rifles have always been my favorite type of weapon, and players like me have plenty of options in Ghosts.  The default scopes on the four rifles are fine, but I found it odd that iron sights take up an attachment slot.
  • I liked the new unlock system.  In earlier games, I often had to grind for a long time to unlock the weapons and perks I wanted, since semi-auto rifles often tend to be unlocked at higher levels.  On Ghosts, you have a lot more flexibility.  Some will argue that this removes an incentive to level and progress, but I'm not bothered by it.
  • I enjoy the interactivity in some of the maps.  Shooting down a giant tree in Prison Break is pretty cool.
  • You have even more flexibility when making classes than on Black Ops II.  The perk system is better, some players think it's too complicated compared to Pick Ten, but players like me that only use a single weapon can load up on perks instead of grenades and secondaries.
  • The Specialist strike package has returned with a small nerf, the bonus only includes 8 additional points worth of perks.  This may have been necessary due to the large number of perks added to the game.
  • More options for player customization are a plus.  You can finally customize a character and play as either gender.  I'm surprised something like this didn't happen sooner.  The overall customization could have been done better, but it's still something the previous games didn't have.

Conclusion

With all this being said, I guess the criticism of Ghosts is not entirely unfair, but I feel that many would enjoy the game still.  Even with all the missteps Infinity Ward made, this is still a solid game.  If you can avoid the atrocious PC port that has very few players, it just might be the right game for those who aren't satisfied with Advanced Warfare or Black Ops II.  I eagerly await the next Call of Duty reveal, but since it usually happens in May, I'll be playing Ghosts in addition to the other CoD games that I play on a regular basis until then.  If you agree/disagree or just want to mention something that I forgot, please feel free to add comments in the section down below.


Update

Well, I finally bit the bullet and bought a copy of Ghosts for PS4 since I had a gift card.  All I can say is "Wow!".  All the problems I had with the lackluster PC port are gone.  I have no lag issues and there are plenty of games.  At this point it is highly likely that I will be playing this at least until Black Ops 3 (or whatever else Treyarch is making) comes out in November.  I have discovered that I prefer the more well-rounded gameplay of Ghosts to the SMG fest that is Black Ops 2, and while I like Advanced Warfare's gameplay, this game really tickles me.  Ghosts is now my favorite Call of Duty title in the series (based on multiplayer alone) and I strongly urge that people give it another shot, especially if playing on consoles.

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