Call of Duty: Ghosts; or, Call of Duty: Again
I was going to review Call of Duty: Ghosts, but it occurred to me that I was much more excited to play the campaign on the Xbox One than I was on the 360, because it had been designed to make the most of the One’s hardware and capabilities. So for the first time in my life, I bought a game just to immediately play only the multiplayer, and that’s all I’ll discuss below.
Call of Duty: Ghosts (Multiplayer only)
Console: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC, [Xbox One], [PS4]
Developer: Infinity Ward
The most remarkable thing about Ghosts’ multiplayer is…well, nothing in particular. It’s hard to sit here and tell anyone that it changes the genre in some, or really any, meaningful way. It has equipment unlocks that parallel Black Ops, with “tokens” that you spend to buy new attachments and guns, versus the “only available at level X” system of the old days. Perks, on the other hand, are level-restricted.
I prefer this system, largely because I no longer feel that players that are better because of more time spent in the game also have an edge because they get better guns. In fact, despite buying several guns and trying them out, I found myself preferring my starter guns most of the time.
Another new feature is that of “soldiers” that you choose to unlock, versus just having a collection of varied loadouts. You have to choose a specialization for each soldier to start with, such as CQB or Stealth, which grants them early access to a few perks that are otherwise beyond their level reach. That’s right, you have to individually level up each soldier, as well (and you thought prestiging one profile all the way was hard).
Each of your soldiers can have multiple loadouts, with customized perks, guns, attachments, grenades, gadgets, etc. This leads to a nearly endless ability to have a solution for every problem your team is having. No more will a round be decided because one team doesn’t have any of a specific weapon that would help them out; now anyone can be a jack-of-all-trades.
The maps are gorgeous, and impressively large. From dark, convoluted hallways to massive open fields of grass or sand, each locale gives a completely unique feel to every match, and every map comes with new and interesting ways to attack the opposing team. It’s no longer a world of two “sides” and a combat area in the middle of the battlefield. Instead, the maps create conflict in a dynamic, and dare I say, more “realistic,” manner, with more shootouts happening unexpectedly around corners or in debris-crowded halls.
The multiplayer features a neat mechanic that Battlefield and Call of Duty seem to have borrowed from each other this year: “contextual lean.” When you’re near a pillar, wall, crate, etc., and in a stance that puts it above head height, you can trigger “contextual lean” by aiming down the sight of your gun while obscured by the cover. This makes your avatar lean outwards slightly, giving you a chance to shoot from within cover, not just awkwardly crouching behind barriers that aren’t really protecting you.
Some of the nonsense that has plagued the series, and FPS titles in general, remains. Deaths from tiny spurts of lag, frustrating spawn migration that sometimes doesn’t kick in until after you’ve spawned in the midst of the other team, etc. Some weapons seem to perform completely unlike their stats would indicate, making it something of a game of experimentation before you find what really suits your play style.
And more than anything else, the community remains largely the same. While there are some players, especially now (right after launch), that want to talk tactics and share in fun times together, there are also plenty of gamers, young and old, that just want to make excuses or make you mad.
Every time they lose?
“Well, you were all camping.”
Every time they win?
“[Insert profane comment about intercourse with mothers of every member of losing team].”
It’s almost as if people on the internet are more defensive and crude than they are in person….
In all seriousness, it’s a normal, average community. The loudest mouths tend to be the most irritating, but every now and then you’ll meet a great individual that you’ll want to play with again later. It happens. It’s part of the deal when you go into online matchmaking, in any title.
The multiplayer side of the game, overall, is fun. It’s dynamic. It’s a little different, but not really enough to justify anyone picking it up that avoided it before.
Score: 7/10 – Review Scale
Even with all of the small adjustments, the fact remains that this is a Call of Duty game. The multiplayer is twitch-based, requiring fast reflexes, unrealistic maneuvers, and a lot of patience from newcomers. The community ranges from relaxed and welcoming to downright hostile and prejudiced. If you didn’t like the game before, you probably won’t like it this time either. But for long-standing fans and competitors like myself, it’s just the next step in a line of great, explosive titles that offer engaging, quick experiences online.