- Editor's Rating
- Refined multiplayer
- Loads of customizable features
- Extinction mode exceeds expectations
- Same quality, fast-paced gameplay
- Same quality, fast-paced gameplay
- Lackluster single-player campaign
Call of Duty: Ghosts refines its multiplayer offering, but does little to differentiate itself from previous titles.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is an entry aimed the series’ most devout player base.
At first glance, it’s easy to see the installment as a lazy and conservative effort. The game removes many of the bells and whistles that have been tacked on over the years, while only offering a handful of new features in return.
But Call of Duty: Ghosts isn’t so much regression as it is a refinement. The game builds upon much of the progress that the series has made over the years, altering its class system, weapons and kill streaks to offer what is perhaps the most balanced Call of Duty (CoD) game to date. Those expecting this franchise to evolve or improve upon its single-player campaign will inevitably remain disappointed, but Ghosts is not the lifeless retread many players might expect.
Call of Duty’s patented frantic twitch-based multiplayer returns as the main draw in Ghosts. Fundamentally the game is still very much the same as it has always been, revolving around lightning-fast reflexes and outmaneuvering opponents.
But you need only to glance towards the sky to see that not everything is the same. The days where kill streaks — rewards obtained by amassing consecutive kills — dominate player matches are long gone. Call of Duty: Ghosts tones down the impact of kill streaks by replacing many of the game’s rewards with weaker ground-based variants.
UAVs have been swapped out for Sat Coms – stationary recon turrets – which are less efficient than UAVs at first, but become more powerful when many of them are deployed in unison. With the majority of the game’ streaks being stagnant, working with your teammates to consider when and when to deploy these rewards is paramount to success.
The rebalanced streaks help to lower Call of Duty: Ghosts’ barrier to entry, making the game friendlier to newcomers and removing one of the series’ more frustrating elements. While using devastating air support to reign down terror on the enemy’s spawn can be enjoyable, it’s infinitely more frustrating for those on the receiving end. The new streaks feel much more tempered. Many of the lethal streaks such as the remote control attack drone require a deft touch. Skilled players will still be able to rack up impressive kill counts, but you won’t be able to simply acquire a few kills and rely on your kill streaks to do the rest.
In another effort to refocus the game’s attention towards its shooting mechanics, Ghosts tweaks explosive damage slightly reducing the lethal radius of grenades and equipment (i.e. rockets, C4). Much like kill streaks, explosives are often fun to use, but being sent to kingdom come by a randomly tossed grenade is hardly enjoyable. Of course, explosives still have their uses, rooting out players behind cover and clearing out capture points. The change forces you to be methodical in your deployment; blindly lobbing grenades towards the enemy spawn will no longer guarantee a kill. And that’s a good thing.
Building on Black Ops II’s ‘Pick 10’ setup, Call of Duty: Ghosts offers the most flexible class systems in the series, encouraging players to explore a wide array of perk and weapon combinations. While Black Ops II afforded a lot of the same flexibility, it also penalized players for using obscure class constructs. To add extra perks or weapon attachments in Black Ops II, you’d have to spend one of your ten allotted points on ‘wildcards’, which in turn reduced the amount of weapon attachments or perks that you could use. Ghosts has no wildcard mechanic, thankfully, meaning that players will be able to spend the same amount of points whether they use a more traditional build or something completely original.
Call of Duty: Ghosts introduces five new game types, the most interesting of which is Cranked. A modified version of Team Deathmatch, Cranked is Ghosts’ answer to the long standing issue of campers (or players who sit in odd positions of the map for extended periods of time in order to catch enemies off-guard).
After successfully obtaining a kill in this mode, you become ‘cranked’, gaining a significant boost to agility, endurance and reload speeds. Upon entering this state you’re given 30 seconds to get another kill, failing to do so will cause you to die via spontaneous combustion. There’s an incentive to keep the streak alive, as scoring additional kills while cranked will offer double the points to your team’s score.
The result is a game mode that perfectly encapsulates the essence of Call of Duty; it’s hectic, aggressive and refuses to relinquish for even a second. Sitting in the back of the map waiting for an unaware foe is not an option here; you’ll have to seek out the opposition to be successful.
For those that would rather team up with others online, Ghosts offers Extinction. The new cooperative game mode pits you and up to three others against a horde of alien monsters. Hopeful alien exterminators will be able to select one of four different classes, each with their own unique set of perks and skills. Similar to multiplayer, experience is earned over time unlocking new rewards and weapons that allow you to better define your class. In Extinction, the best teams are the ones that work closely together and utilize a variety of classes and builds. The strong emphasis on team cohesion makes Extinctions an ideal cooperative game.
Ghosts may offer the most refined multiplayer experience in the series, but it’s certainly not without fault. Its maps are noticeably larger than previous installments, which runs counter to the usually compact playgrounds that helped augment the game’s intense pace. While the majority of the maps manage to retain that feeling, the two largest levels (Siege and Stonehaven) are simply too expansive, forcing you to spend more time traversing the landscape than fighting one another.
And while many of these maps are spacious, it’s still not uncommon to find enemies randomly spawn within your direct vicinity. Spawn issues like this don’t take place every match, but there are still instances where players will find themselves mercilessly thrust directly into an enemy’s sight line with no chance of survival. It’s worth noting that these issues are often experienced during the launch of a multiplayer shooter, and Ghosts is most definitely not the first CoD game to suffer from them. Chances are the spawn system will be refined later down the line via a downloadable patch. Luckily, they aren’t pervasive enough to mar the overall experience in the interim.