Call of Duty: Ghosts (Game) Review
Available on: PlayStation 4, XBOX One, PlayStation 3, XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, PC
Rating: PEGI 16
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Finally, after eight years of current gen gaming with the Xbox 360 and PS3 Microsoft and Sony have released their brand new, next gen machines, along with a rostrum of impressive games to boot. Amongst that list is Call of Duty Ghosts - Infinity Ward's latest entry into the series and following Treyarch's Black Ops 2, which came out at the same time last year. With such an impressive launch line up on both next gen machines, should you spend your hard earned cash on Ghosts? Well, after spending around 17 hours both finishing the campaign and then switching over to multiplayer, I can safely say that you will not be disappointed.
Call of Duty Ghosts begins with a father, retired U.S. Army Captain Elias Walker, and his two sons, Logan and 'Hesh', walking in the woods near their home when an earth tremor strikes. When more tremors hit in rapid succession the trio realise that something is amiss and rush home to the aid of their mother only to be met with a scene of total chaos - their neighbourhood is being bombarded by a series of missile strikes from an unknown source. While the three are trying to work out what's going on the story suddenly jumps into space, where you take control of an astronaut on a space walk towards an orbital defence space station, which will be immediately familiar to all that have seen Alfonso Cuaran's Gravity film. As the astronauts reach the space station they are met by fictional 'Federation' troops, who kill most of the crew and hijack the station. What follows is a frankly amazing fire-fight in zero gravity while your character try's to regain control of the station. Although you eventually bring the station down, the Federation hijackers manage to fire off a succession of orbital missiles, destroying several major cities in the US. The game then jumps ten years into the future and finds the original trio fighting in the US Army's elite Ghost Squadron in an attempt to finally quash the Federation threat. Although this all sounds a little far-fetched, I actually really enjoyed the story and thought it offered an interested 'what if' scenario that was pretty believable from start to finish. What follows is 7 hours of action packed gameplay through a series of 18 missions that never suffers a dull moment. Each level feels like the climax to a Hollywood blockbuster, and whether your having a firefight in space, at the bottom of the ocean trying to take out an enemy submarine, piloting an attack helicopter or in the driving seat of a tank or rappelling down the side of a skyscraper, the game has your senses on edge and your adrenaline pumping for every second. It really is that good.
We now move to gameplay and what's immediately apparent from the first 30 seconds of gameplay is that this is a Call of Duty game through and through. The award winning shooting mechanics that we all know and love are here and are largely untouched from previous entries in the series. This isn't a bad thing at all - if it ain't broke don't fix it. There are very few games on the market that can beat COD in this respect. While Battlefield definitely sounds the better game, COD to me still offers the most fun and the most satisfaction after shooting a room full of bad guys. Also new this time round is the addition of a four-legged member to your team - Riley - a German Shepherd attack dog, who accompanies you on missions and who you can sometimes take control of to take down your enemies. This is a nice addition, although you actually only take control of the dog on a couple of occasions, and then he's largely forgotten about until later in the game.
So how are the next gen graphics? Well they're good and a noticeable leap from the 360 and PS3 counterparts, but they don't blow your mind like Ryse on the Xbox One or Killzone Shadow Fall on PS4. There isn't enough difference here to warrant you buying the game again if you've already played it on a previous gen console, but the game looks consistently solid without ever really being stunning. I played the game through on Xbox One and have also seen it running on PS4 and Sony's machine definitely has a slight graphical edge - there seems to be less jagged edges than on Microsoft's machine but, to be honest, most people probably wouldn't be able to see a difference between the two.
And now we move to multiplayer. I can report that the same basic building blocks that the COD series is renowned for are here and anyone who's played a previous iteration of the series will feel instantly at home. There are a few shake ups this time round, most noticeably of which is a new way of unlocking new guns and perks. Rather than unlocking guns at a certain player level, you are now awarded points based on ranking up or doing cool stuff in the game and these points are used to buy new weapons or better attachments for them. This is good thinking from Infinity Ward as now you can have a half decent gun after playing only a few games, rather than having to get yourself up to rank 30 with a water pistol before being eligible to unlock the good stuff. This levels the playing field somewhat and gives new players a better chance against seasoned players, although be warned - you'll probably still going to get beat up for the first few hours until you learn the new maps and get your eye in.
The big surprise for me this time is the inclusion of a brand new mode called Extinction, which is Infinity Ward's answer to Treyarch's Zombie mode, which is extremely popular with fans. Extinction finds you in a small hamlet in a post-apocalyptic setting in a squad of up to 4 players fighting off wave after wave of alien foe. Your objective is to plant the team's drill at a series of alien hives and ultimately work your way through to the nuke in the centre of town. Once the nuke is armed, you make a run for it back to the chopper. There is only the one level to play through at the time of writing but it's a ton of fun. I've had around 20 play throughs so far and am still loving it. There are lots of perks to help you through the level, so an element of team strategy is definitely required if you're going to be successful. One guy for example can rank up his ammo capabilities for the team, whereas the other can be the medic. Think Halo meets Call of Duty. It's left me wanting more and I can't wait for more levels to be released as DLC.
So, in summary, Call of Duty Ghosts is, for me, the best entry in the series since Infinity Ward redefined FPS's with Call of Duty 4. Although nothing here is really revolutionary and the graphics are just prettier, upscaled versions of those seen on current gen consoles, all elements of the game ooze class from start to finish. The campaign is hugely enjoyable and offers hours of action that doesn't let up for a second, the multiplayer is fantastic and Extinction offers yet another excellent gameplay option. If you've played the game on current gen and are wanting to upgrade you won't find anything new here, but if you have just bought a shiny new PS4 or Xbox One and want a game that will make your heart race and put a big smile on your face, then this is it. Well done, Infinity Ward. I really can't wait to see where Treyarch will take the series next.
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