Call of Duty: Ghosts

PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, X1, Wii U, PC
Developed by: Infinity Ward
By Matt Ross
Dec 17, 2013

There's an unavoidable sense of expectation that accompanies every new Call of Duty game. Very often, it’s merely the assumption that whatever Infinity Ward (or franchise tag-team developer Treyarch) have cooked up will be at least as entertaining and satisfying as previous outings – there aren’t many gamers who expect radical innovation from their Call of Duty experience. And Ghosts, the 10th major installment in the franchise, does little to buck the trend.

The game, set in an alternative near-future that sees the Middle East destroyed in a nuclear conflict and the U.S. at war with a coalition of South American countries, has just about everything you’d expect. There’s a suitably cinematic narrative, a couple of big name voice actors (Stephen Lang and Brandon Routh), and a series of epic set-pieces that play out like a Hollywood wet dream. Pretty standard so far.

Ghosts makes a couple of attempts to spice things up. As soldier Logan Walker, you’re accompanied by (and, occasionally, given control of) a highly trained German Shepherd. It’s a novel mechanic, but given so little screentime as to be instantly forgettable. And there’s a smattering of new multiplayer modes, the best of which is co-op romp Extinction, which sees you taking on a bunch of aliens for reasons that are never really explained. Multiplayer maps are more destructible, and there are in-game tasks that can be collected from vanquished enemies, but while the particulars are different, the overall feel of online combat (inevitably the most scrutinized aspect of a modern shooter) is similar to what’s gone before.

There’s no disputing that Ghosts is very good. There’s a sense of gravitas to the franchise that few of its rivals can match. The storytelling (once you suspend your disbelief) is grandiose and well-paced. Ghosts’ single-player is far more than a parade of gunfights in exotic locations. But playing online is still guaranteed to occupy the majority of your free time in the coming months. And it looks and plays as well as you’d expect from a title with this much pedigree.

Releasing for both next- and current-generation consoles is undeniably tricky. As such, Ghosts was never going to be a revolution, nor a true demonstration of what the future holds for the genre. But it is a fun, well-executed title with a lot of selling points. If we’re going to see anything truly ground-breaking from Call of Duty, however, it’s undoubtedly going to be when the series moves exclusively to the newest hardware.

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