Call of Duty: Ghosts on the Playstation 4 is absolute eye candy, with all the next-gen flair and awesome texture rendering one would expect. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much going on under the hood, gameplay-wise. Ghosts is fun, but not as inventive and fresh as it could have been.
Much of what one would expect of a Call of Duty game is there, with a plethora of fast-paced multiplayer modes, both competitive and cooperative. There’s the usual free-for-all and team deathmatch, as well as six brand new game modes. A couple of these new modes are insanely fun to play with friends, like Cranked (get a kill in 30 seconds or you explode) and Infected (a team of soldiers fights off an opposing team of aliens). The remaining four are all fine and dandy, but failed to hold my attention for more than a match or two, since they were so similar to pre-existing game modes.
Character customization is something that the developers did well; players have a fair amount of freedom to create their soldier, and can play as a female soldier for the first time in the franchise. Players can customize their soldier’s helmet and uniform after they unlock certain preset soldier models. Customization for class loadouts consists of a point system similar to the Black Ops 2 “pick 10” system; the player can have up to ten points to spend on perks, guns, lethals, and tacticals, and choose how many points to allocate to each category. It seems a little redundant after the simplicity of Black Ops 2’s class customization, but it works well.
Maps seem to be larger overall this time around, which means I had to adjust my run-and-gun play style from what I used in previous games. These maps favor strategic play rather than all-out running and gunning, but it does make it all the more rewarding when you throw caution to the wind and earn a killstreak as you’re sprinting through the map. It’s difficult, but if you have the trigger-finger for it, it’s incredibly satisfying.
The new field orders mechanic works surprisingly well, adding substance to the traditional “point and shoot” formula of Call of Duty multiplayer, without bogging it down. Field orders can be picked up when you kill another player, and are totally optional to complete, with extra points as the reward. They add simple secondary objectives to the match that must be completed before you get killed in order for them to count. If you’re taken out before you complete a field order, you lose that assignment as well as the potential points that would have come with it. Luckily, field orders are pretty frequent throughout the match, making it easy for those who want to earn some extra points, yet are easy enough to ignore for those who don’t.
The campaign is where Ghosts manages to be as Call of Duty as Call of Duty gets; within the first ten minutes, you learn that South America has united into a force called The Federation, invaded a United States space station, and used its missiles to destroy most of America’s landmark cities. Oh, and you (Logan) and your brother Hesh are suddenly part of an elite military force stationed in the wreckage of your Los Angeles hometown, fighting off the Federation against the backdrop of a rusted Hollywood sign. Yeeeaaah.
Despite the storyline being full of events that would be incredibly unlikely to actually ever happen in real life (gunfights in zero gravity, anyone?) and massively over-the-top setpieces, the campaign is a hell of a lot of fun to play. Shooting mechanics are as refined as ever, guns are varied and not overpowered, and enemy AI actually seems to think. Enemies will try to flank you and your squad if you stay hunkered down behind cover for too long, or try and flush you out with frag grenades. There isn’t too much variety in the enemy AI character models, however, but they present a decent challenge.
Character facial animations are good, but not great. There are one too many scenes where your squadmates are talking to you, but as much as they wave their arms around, they simply remain dead in the eyes. Hesh, your brother, and Elias (you and Hesh’s father) seem to be constantly grimacing, even as the voice acting for them is very well done. Strangely, the voice acting and animations for some more minor characters is excellently captured, casting the weird animations for two of the main characters in an even more unflattering light.
One of the most notable additions to the Ghosts campaign is Riley, otherwise known to the world as “Call of Duty Dog”. He accompanies you and Hesh on a handful of missions in the game, where he can stealth kill enemies by sneaking up behind them and ripping out their throats. Good dog. On a few missions, you can actually control Riley through a camera on his back, and command him to kill enemies or scan enemy territory for necessary intel. Your squad members are almost as enamored with Riley as the internet was when they first saw him, frequently praising his helpfulness. They aren’t exaggerating, either: Riley frequently acts as an objective marker, sniffing out objects of interest and scratching at doors and vehicles in case you can’t take a hint. The whole thing is adorable, and not unhelpful if you can’t figure out that the one glowing ladder against the building is the one you need to climb.
All in all, Call of Duty: Ghosts is a fun experience, if not a memorable one. Graphics are incredible on Playstation 4, and online multiplayer is smooth and accessible, carrying over some of the better aspects of the previous entries. If you haven’t picked up Ghosts on current-gen consoles, it’s definitely worth playing on PS4.
[+Same fun Call of Duty multiplayer] [+Thrilling, fast-paced campaign] [+Riley, Call of Duty Dog] [-Doesn’t take the opportunity to freshen up the franchise]