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Call of Duty: Ghosts (PS4) Review

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I have an illness and it involves me buying Infinity Ward developed Call of Duty games despite my disappointment with their previous instalments. The combination of $40 price tag, high trade-in value and short campaign helps rationalizes such purchases but I usually have a singular reason that convinces me to pull the trigger. What was the tipping point this time? It’s a Call of Duty game for next generation platforms and they finally added dedicated servers for console players.

I didn’t invest much time into the multiplayer but it was what I expected. The foundation was strong. Net code seemed to be on point and the game ran at 1080p resolution and mostly 60FPS. However, I longed for Black Ops 2’s feature set. In many ways Ghosts’ multiplayer felt like a step backwards with the lack of Gun Game or other party modes. It’s ludicrous that such a divide exists; each Call of Duty title should be building upon the features that the previous instalment introduced.

 

And despite it being a stable product compared to Battlefield 4, I actually preferred the imperfect Battlefield experience which was why I traded it in already.

Before letting it go, I took my time and played through the campaign. Again, I longed for Black Ops 2’s efforts. Treyarch tried to expand the campaign experience with selectable missions, loadouts and branching story lines. Infinity Ward didn’t lift any of those features. They continued down the same path of mindless enemies and bombastic set pieces.

To their credit, unlike with Modern Warfare 3, some of those set pieces were at least memorable. I couldn’t tell you what happened in Modern Warfare 3. It was easily the weakest Call of Duty title this side of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Three quarters of Ghosts’ campaign was serviceable. There was a bar of quality that was met and I found myself enjoying moments. But out of the blue, Infinity Ward was out of their element. Call of Duty games always trivialized vehicular combat but the tank piloting in Ghosts was laughable. The original Call of Duty approximated tank combat better. And no other moment highlighted their engine’s shortcomings like a tank mission in the wide open desert.

As far as I’m concerned, the original Ghost from Modern Warfare 2 is the only Ghost that matters. This whole mystique about Ghosts that they tried to build throughout the campaign reeked of “Black Ops” knockoff. Only this time there was a marketable mask to tie it altogether.

There was an effort made to establish a new villain but in the wake of Treyarch’s Black Ops saga, this was a poor effort. Rorke was thrusted into the villain role without much build up and I was supposed to sympathize with the characters and hate him? I also didn’t comprehend why the world hated the United States so much. In fact, I felt like America must have been the villain in this global conflict if these “Federation” folks were willing to go to such extreme measures.

Even without the backstory or justifications, Rorke was my favorite character in Ghosts. Everyone else was bland as the firefights in-between the set pieces. At least Rorke had some personality — even if it was being a dick. But most importantly, he was a voice and not just a silent faceless character.

I’m tired of the silent protagonist. Treyarch demonstrated how giving the player a voice was plus and once again, Infinity Ward disregarded that addition. I was miffed at this omission because I spent so much time playing as one character. I wasn’t a faceless soldier in this game, I was playing the son and brother of two of the game’s main characters. Watching my in-game brother speak to me like a mute was silly and it’s time Infinity Ward did away with that direction.

There’s playing it safe and then there’s Call of Duty: Ghosts. Where Battlefield 4 stumbles around with its bugs and networking issues, Call of Duty: Ghosts hums along like they’ve done this a thousand times already. It’s a routine game and while others are okay with having a true high definition Call of Duty console experience for the very first time, I wanted more. Let’s hope Treyarch delivers next year because at this rate, Call of Duty might as well not exist in two year’s time.

Verdict:
Worth a try

Ratings Guide

For more information on Call of Duty: Ghosts, visit the official website.

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