It’s that time of the year again, and Activision delivers again with the new Call of Duty game from Infinity Ward. By now, the Call of Duty franchise has become a household name and its games are met with both patronage and ridicule in mainstream pop culture. If you’re a loyal fan, then you’ll be pleased to know that it is just as good as any other Call of Duty game out there. However, dropping $60 for yet another one when you’re still enjoying Black Ops II may be a pain for a lot of gamers. Perhaps it will take a bit of convincing to show that this game could be worth buying.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is the latest installment of the Call of Duty franchise from Infinity Ward and Activision, and it’s no longer called “Modern Warfare”. It could mean a new direction for the Infinity Ward titles, and that should be a good thing. In terms of production value and polish, this game does have them in spades. The presentation is just as good as it has ever been, with stunning graphics and environments courtesy of Infinity Ward’s engine. In fact, it seems like everything is in its place, but it does have additions that will please COD fans.
There’s still the singleplayer campaign to build things up for players, with pretty good pacing and variety. You still get a plot full of militaries going after baddies from mission to mission, and a bit of both badassery and tomfoolery in between. But perhaps the best part of it is what the gaming press had raved about for some time, which is the dog. Whenever dogs are featured in a Call of Duty game, they’re enemies that quickly come in and pounce on the player character. This time though, there is a German Shepard named Riley that is on the player’s side, which may not seem to be a big feature but is still kind of nice like in Fallout 3 and Dragon Age: Origins.
If you wish to play with friends, then you can actually do that in the new co-op mode that actually does a lot to satisfy. Aside from the usual campaign co-op, you also get the new Extinction mode that pits you against aliens. If Treyarch is known for putting zombies in their games, then Infinity Ward seems to be setting a new trend of putting some XCOM into their own games. In this mode, you get to pick between four character classes according to the role you want to assume in your effort to keep the aliens at bay. Each of them can be leveled up as you gain more experience, and they have their own weapon and equipment loadouts. Mind you, this gameplay mode can only be unlocked when you finish the campaign, so it will take some time to get to it.
As for the multiplayer, there is now more gameplay modes than ever before. There’s Search and Rescue, Search and Destroy, Cranked, Domination, Kill Confirmed, Blitz, and Infected to accompany the usual Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes. It still has most of the bells and whistles that you’d expect from COD multiplayer, like the leveling system and unlockables. There are some new features though, like Squads that can level up as a whole like individual soldiers. You can also play as female soldiers, which perhaps addresses feminist concerns about the series. It’s now a lot like Rainbow Six: Vegas, which featured female operatives since 2006 (a year before COD4 was released).
The problem with assessing a title like Call of Duty: Ghosts is that it’s a formula that works really well, so much that it now falls under the category of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Whether the franchise is now a victim of its own success or merely too good to overhaul, it still has its high place in the gaming market. It does work for the most part, but it’s also rather sad that what Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had established back in 2007 has now become the stereotype in action games nowadays.
It has gotten so far into the cookie cutter set that even the ending looks a lot like that of a previous Call of Duty game. Here is video with side-by-side comparison between the two. Credit goes to the uploader.
Perhaps what Activision and Infinity Ward doesn’t get is that it could really be broken. The fact that a creative product has become a copy of a copy of a copy is in itself a flaw due to how it slowly becomes a parody of itself, as well as its usual players. The very first Call of Duty was successful in its aim, reflected by its project name “MOH Killer”. It did kill EA’s Medal of Honor franchise, but it has now become the target. Detractors are now waiting in epicaricactic anticipation for the game that will knock Call of Duty from its high horse, and they’re starting to fall a bit with this title getting less sales in its first week than the previous game. However, it is also worth noting that most of those detractors do miss the real point.
What the post-2007 Call of Duty titles display is consistency and constant refinement, which is something not seen in most other game series. There are others like COD like Assassin’s Creed and the Batman Arkham series that has seen regular releases in recent years, but it’s always COD that gets the most attention due to its mainstream status. That and the kind of audience it draws with its online multiplayer is mostly why it gets most of the negative attention. Perhaps they’re right to raise their eyebrows, but it’s not easy to blame the developers and publishers for maintaining their course with all things considered. If there were really big changes, it would garner just as much criticism, if not more. But perhaps what we really want for once is some consolidated effort to bring more new things to the table that would actually work.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is a refinement, and that is what makes it good on its own right. If you’re really that apprehensive about buying this game though, but still interested in a new Call of Duty game, then maybe you’d want to wait for what Treyarch will come up with next.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8/10