Call of Duty: Ghosts has been out for a long time and thoughts have obviously turned towards the impending release of Advance Warfare, but as the last true ‘last-gen’ Call of Duty title (even if it was upscaled for PS4 and Xbox One), Ghosts represents an interesting, and in many respects, underrated entry in the all-conquering FPS series.
While Ghosts is certainly more of the same, claims that it is in any way a lazy or inferior Call of Duty product are certainly wide of the mark. Sure, it’s not the most forward thinking title in the series’ history, and it certainly won’t be remembered as fondly as the like of Call of Duty 4, but Ghosts nonetheless stands as an extremely entertaining game in its own right with a pleasingly ludicrous concept and a fantastic collection of online options.
The campaign, despite the preposterous premise of a South American ‘Federation’ laying waste to half of the United States, actually starts off in a rather earnest fashion. The story of ex-Ghost leader, ‘Rourke’, leading a South American uprising against their northern neighbours via a giant space laser (seriously!), is, almost admirably, played relatively straight for the opening few hours. Here, while the characters and story remain largely forgettable, the somewhat unique premise does lend the game a degree of aesthetic distinctiveness. We’ve all seen the US laid to waste plenty of times before, but there is something to be said for the artistry on show in those first few stages.
Saying that though, it’s not until about half way through that the game becomes something resembling its own beast, at which point, thanks to a true abandoning of realism and common sense, that Ghosts truly comes to life on both an aesthetic and conceptual level. Call of Duty is a series that is often at its best when sanity is cast aside, and so it proves here. A bout of space-based shoot-outs, some truly absurd vehicular combat and a genuinely memorable ending all combine to make Ghosts’ campaign a technically safe, but conceptually intriguing entry in the series, and one that, despite its faults and over reliance upon well-worn Call of Duty staples, was the most fun I have had with a Call of Duty campaign in quite some time.
As entertaining as the pleasantly brief campaign might be (5 hours is more than enough for me), as always, it’s the multiplayer that proves the real star of the show and is surely the aspect of the package that gamers will still be utilising so long after its initial release.
As expected, Ghosts is home to an array of perfectly balanced maps and the accompanying gameplay once again provides the slickest, most polished take on close quarter online combat around. It’s easy to be blasé about its many successes, and it’s certainly popular to bash the current king, but the fact is, there is a very good reason as to why millions of gamers play Call of Duty: Ghosts each and every night – it’s brilliant.
Sure, there are no major changes to the addictively fast-paced gameplay other than a handful of entertaining twists on long-standing game types, and it’s a shame that the core maps, while perfectly formed, are often a little bit on the bland side (the subsequent DLC invariably offered up the more visually arresting maps), but despite these issues, Ghosts successfully delivers yet another bout of undeniably explosive online action.
It’s easy to be dismissive of the ‘Dynamic Events’ introduced for Ghosts given what was delivered in EA’s, Battlefield 4, but while they certainly do little to change the way the game is played, they do at least show an interesting glimpse of where the series might head in the future. There’s nothing as dramatic as that found in EA’s premier shooter, but some of the events do at least change the layout of the map and ensure that a change of approach is occasionally required.
The big change though comes in the form of the all new, ‘Extinction Mode’. Essentially, Infinity Ward’s take on Treyarch’s, ‘Zombies Mode’, this at least offers a more well-rounded and complete experience than the fun but ultimately shallow, zombie equivalent.
With the usual gun upgrades alongside additional class types and a wider range of equipment, Extinction offers up a surprisingly robust package, and thanks to its more structured sense of progression, is a more appealing long term prospect than the more throwaway zombie-based offering of previous releases.
As always, be it on the 360/PS3 or the Xbox One/PS4, Call of Duty: Ghosts isn’t the most visually impressive game on the market, but thanks to its rock solid mechanics and moments of artistic flair, once again manages to win out against many of its more technically gifted competitors. Critics will point towards it being more of the same, and they certainly have a point, but that doesn’t change the fact that Call of Duty: Ghosts stands as yet another perfectly crafted slice of FPS action. Be it the slick, rollercoaster ride of the Campaign, the robust Extinction Mode or the outrageously addictive competitive play, the Call of Duty franchise has once again delivered a fantastically well-rounded package, one that will continue to be played long after Advance Warfare makes it bow.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.