November 7, 2013

Call of Duty Ghosts

Lasting First Impressions

It has long been said that the annual Call of Duty cycle is just the same game over and over again and yet millions of players still flock to obtain the next game in the series.  Call of Duty Ghosts is not different in that regard.  In the first day alone, Activision has revealed that it has sold over $1 billion of Call of Duty Ghosts into retail.  Call of Duty Ghosts has been developed by Infinity Ward and, for nearly a year now, they have been promising he biggest and most exciting Call of Duty game ever.  Set 10 years after a massive attack on the North American continent that has left it mostly in ruins, an elite group of soldiers, called the Ghosts, finally begin taking the fight to the enemy.  Call of Duty Ghosts is full of beautiful and incredible action-packed set pieces.  Unfortunately, it never really moves away from that; a bunch of set pieces that look amazing but simply leave the player behind.

COD Ghosts Screen (5)

The game starts with an heart-pounding set piece as the first attacks hit American soil.  Caught in the midst of the attack, players must follow their older brother through the rubble that was once their home.  Then we move to 15 minutes before the attack to find out exactly what just happened.  And we’re in space. In zero gravity. And its actually very cool.  Except it doesn’t last very long at all.  Then we’re 10 years later and we’re the first character again. Following our brother. Again.  Oh, but now we have a dog with us so it’s all good.  Eventually we’re playing as yet another character in the past.  Jumping around the timeline and playing as different characters like this never instilled any care into the story for me.  I never truly cared about anyone.  The characters seemed so one dimensional and were just yelling instructions to me while I followed behind them like a good little puppy.

That’s what the single player campaign of Call of Duty Ghosts really seemed to me. I just felt like I was running through some amazing set pieces, with lots of yelling and explosions, all designed to invoke some sense of excitement in the player, all the while just playing Follow the Leader while someone barked orders telling me what to do.  Press this button to control this drone. Press the same button to control the dog through the tall grass, stealth like. Press that button again to do something else.  Do this. Do that. Go here. Go there. Follow me.  Sure, there were plenty of different types of things to do, but there was never a time in the game that I felt like I was doing any thinking of my own. I was simply a mindless automaton, there to do what the game wanted me to do in order to move the story along.  All these great, fun sequences were only there when the game needed you to use them instead of giving the player an arsenal of options to use as they saw fit. Call of Duty Ghosts simply uses the player as a tool to move the rather uninspired story along. There’s nothing fun about that.

COD Ghosts Screen (3)

Several times I received a game over screen with some instructions on what I did wrong, only I had no idea why I did it wrong.  At one time I apparently did something that killed the dog. Really? How? What did I do? I never knew.  Another time I apparently shot one of my own soldiers.  Hmm…well perhaps it would help if they didn’t all look like the enemies I’m supposed to be shooting!

After so many years of pumping out another Call of Duty game, I honestly thought it was time we might see something new and fresh.  I’m not saying the game has to be totally turned on its head, but move the game ahead somehow.  Adding amazing set pieces and gorgeous visuals isn’t enough.  Being the dog isn’t enough.  It’s really come down to the fact that the Call of Duty franchise truly lives on the multiplayer and that’s where Call of Duty Ghosts shines.  They’ve added some great new multi-player options for veterans and beginners alike.  Extinction is like Horde Mode in Gears of War.  Gone are the zombies, and in are the aliens.  Players must work together to keep the aliens at bay as they protect drills trying to destroy the alien hives.  Squads allow players to create their own teams of virtual players and play against AI controlled opponents.  Of course, the tried and true multiplayer is still there too.  Ultimately, however, with the multiplayer part of these games taking the spotlight, the single player campaign continue to suffer from been-there-done-that syndrome.

As beautiful as the game may be, there isn’t much enjoyment to be found in the single player campaign in Call of Duty Ghosts.  The longevity of these titles lives on in multiplayer, and, as such, the single player has suffered immensely.

Activision, I gave you an hour and I am NOT IMPRESSED.

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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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