Unfortunately, the meticulous detail afforded to game’s multiplayer is completely absent from the single-player campaign. As Infinity Ward’s first departure from the Modern Warfare series since 2007, Ghosts had the opportunity to usher the franchise in new direction. But it doesn’t. Sure, Ghosts is set a unique universe, but that doesn’t stop it from providing the same uninspired experience that the series has been repackaging for years.
Even worse, the narrative, which is the only part of the solo game that’s actually new, is a convoluted mess. Set in the near future, a coalition of well to do South American nations have unified under the banner “The Federation” to become a major military power capable of competing on the world stage. This is a Call of Duty game, so naturally a conflict arises between The Federation and the United States. At some point the risk of war was subdued via the signing of a peace treaty, but the calm of peace proves to be a false respite, as The Federation invades a US space station to hijack a powerful experimental weapon and wipe every major U.S. city off of the map.
This concept is not inherently terrible (at least relative to other Call of Duty plots), but it’s all crammed down your throat within the first 10 minutes of the game. It’s part of Infinity Ward’s fatal flaw here – they’re so focused on offering the most action-packed game possible that everything is thrown at you a mile a minute. Ghosts is completely devoid of pacing, as you’re continuously ushered from set piece to piece without pause. The result is a series of gunfights and explosions that blend together in one big blur.
Admittedly, Ghosts hosts an array of impressive action sequences, but games need a balanced mix of highs and lows. If every moment is just as “epic” as the last, you’ll have a game where nothing stands out. In a game where even earth-shattering explosions fail to resonate, there’s little chance you’ll be able to contextualize the major geopolitical paradigm shifts going on in the background.
More likely, you’ll miss the game’s opening explanation and find yourself inexplicably thrust into a war-torn United States. Set several years after the Federation’s successful attack, Ghosts‘ United States is a shell of what it once was. Fighting for its survival, the nation’s only hope rests with a mythical force of highly trained operatives known only as the Ghosts. You then take the role of Logan who, with help of his father and brother Hesh, will attempt to join the Ghosts and repel the invading Federation force.
The game’s narrative construct and character design are cheap attempts to evoke an emotional connection through external association. It’s as if Ghosts is hoping that by simply taking place in the United States, you will be distraught by the wanton destruction before our eyes, and feel compelled to stop it. It puts too much reliance on our simple recognition of relationships between brothers and fathers, believing that you’ll somehow feel a connection to these otherwise hollow husks, merely because it tells you they’re related.
Yet for all of its faults, the single-player campaign does play well, and it offers the same concise controls from its multiplayer. It’s just a shame that campaign fails to make better use of them.
The Big Picture
Call of Duty: Ghosts improves upon what the series does best: its multiplayer. The rebalanced kill streak rewards and toned-down explosives serve to place the game’s focus back on the player’s ability with a gun. While these changes will likely please the game’s core audience, they’ll do little to alter the perception of the less enthused.
In the big picture, Call of Duty’s multiplayer remains wholly the same despite Ghosts’ many refinements, and after another lackluster single-player offering, it’s easy to see why some players have become burnt out on the franchise. Unfortunately, Ghosts does little to reignite that flame.