Quantcast
Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts - Destructoid

DestructoidJapanatorTomopopFlixist



Call of Duty: Ghosts  




Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts photo
Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts

2:01 AM on 11.05.2013

Old dog, old tricks


While Call of Duty is often regarded as the epitome of the annualized, cynically produced, lazily constructed videogame franchise, I've always maintained that both Infinity Ward and Treyarch expended much more effort than they were ever given credit for.

Whether it's the underestimated storytelling prowess of Modern Warfare or the noble efforts to revitalize the COD formula with Black Ops, the overwhelmingly popular series is far more cognizant of its own criticisms than many like to believe. 

My defense of the consistent quality of Call of Duty has certainly caught criticism of its own. Indeed, I am lauded as a hypocrite for daring to suggest that Modern Warfare 3 was not objectively, factually, a mediocre game. I still believe that, and I still have respect for Call of Duty as a series. However, I've always been mindful that the gravy train cannot last forever, and as "military shooters" are in 2013 what World War II shooters were in 2008, it's high time Call of Duty underwent another dramatic transformation, the likes of which gave us the original Modern Warfare

Black Ops II was a step forward in this regard, an earnest attempt to inject fresh life into a flagging idea. By comparison, Ghosts is not only a failure to capitalize on the goodwill Black Ops II earned, it's a disappointing step backward. 

Call of Duty: Ghosts (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher: Activision
Released: November 5, 2013
MSRP: $59.99

While most fans consider their Call of Duty campaigns to be little more than additional fluff, tacked onto the multiplayer, I've always found them a compelling draw. The stories aren't the most engrossing, nor are they particularly deep, but they are at least energetic, explosive, and highly effective at drawing a reaction from the player, even if a few cheap tricks are employed the get it. Ghosts, by contrast, offers a startlingly lethargic solo experience, with a story lacking in character -- or indeed, characters -- and going through the expected motions with little evidenced enthusiasm. 

The campaign isn't exactly bad, but it is a banal shooting gallery without the remarkable setpieces or memorable moments to carry it. Very much a COD-by-numbers affair, players quickly blitz through the usual tasks with dutiful obligation. Indeed, "obligation" is a fitting word to use when talking about Ghosts' solo missions -- the obligatory bit where a temporary player character dies, the obligatory aircraft sequence, the obligatory escape while shooting things from the back of a vehicle, the obligatory sniping part, the obligatory chapter where you're walking quietly in grass. More than any other Call of Duty, there is an overwhelming sense of having been there many times, and having done that more than you can count. 

The combat is solid, but its solidarity is matched only by its tepidness. You move from small wall to small wall, shooting the enemies ducking behind their own walls, and avoiding their endless grenades. After the mission variety and unique optional objectives found in Black Ops II, it's difficult to go back to "normal" Call of Duty, which feels comparatively dry and plodding. Without an interesting story (the American invasion plot feels like a rehash of Modern Warfare 2), and without the usual explosive pace I've come to expect, there's really very little worth experiencing here. 

Ghosts' one big attempt to stand out is the inclusion of Riley, a dog. It's a dog. That's what it is. In missions where Riley accompanies you, you can press a button to make the dog attack an enemy. Every now and then, you might get to control the dog and let it sneak around in grass to attack people. That's about it. There's something about the game industry that compels it to market dogs as massive, game changing inclusions in games. They never have been, and if Ghosts is a continuation of a trend, they probably never will. 

Without a campaign of note, Call of Duty hinges on multiplayer more than ever and ... it's okay. As always, various tweaks and refinements have been added, but Ghosts' online efforts suffer in the same way its campaign has -- the previous installment added too much, and did too many things better, for this to be considered a worthy successor. While there are some new toys to play with, and you can even customize the look of your character (as well as play as a woman, finally), the core experience feels like business as usual, moreso since we've lost the near-future gadgets found in 2012's installment. 

A new mode, Squads, allows you to command your own team of characters in a multiplayer scenario, cooperating with friends and challenging others with AI-controlled teammates. I'll be honest, I don't really get the point. You're not commanding anybody, or doing much more than experiencing an official simulation of a multiplayer match with half a lobby full. Its presence isn't offensive, and it may be of use to total newcomers who aren't ready to jump into full competition, but it failed to really excite me. 

If one is to be diplomatic, one can say Ghosts is still better than a lot of cornball military shooter knock-offs, but formula and familiarity have won the day, as Infinity Ward finds itself too afraid to shake anything up in too dramatic a fashion. As with the campaign, a checklist of obligatory elements appears to have been steadily worked through, as the usual format of ranking, unlocking, and customization trundles along with methodical reliability.

And don't get me wrong, it's as reliable as it's always been -- if all you've ever really wanted is the same Call of Duty every single year, then you're going to love this, because it's as Call of Duty as Call of Duty gets. A few cute modes help break up the usual stable of gametypes, such as Infected (one player slowly turns the others into zombie-like creatures) and Cranked (chaining kills makes you tougher, faster, and able to score more points). These modes can make things less monotonous, but they riff on ideas seen in many other shooters, and really aren't worth the buying the whole game for. 

Except players can also have dogs now. Dogs make everything good. 

I've made no secret of my love for Call of Duty, and I've been avidly into the series up until last year, but this time around, I barely struggled to keep my eyes open for more than a handful of matches. I feel I've officially done this too many times to care anymore, and for as much as I've supported the series, this is the one that's turned me off -- at least as far as the Infinity Ward installments go. While Treyarch has steadily gotten better and braver with each new game, Ghosts sees Infinity Ward step into the role of pretender, of flagging inferior, one that doesn't seem to care much about improving its status, not when it could churn out any old guff at this point and come out on top of the sales charts. 

To that end, Infinity Ward takes a page directly of Treyarch's book with Extinction, a wave-based cooperative mode that performs functionally similar to the ever popular Zombies mode. However, while Zombies always had a unique sense of humor and an amusing arcade quality, Extermination is a fairly bland slice of chaos, in which fairly uninteresting aliens are mowed through across blasted cities littered with quivering pustules. 

As aliens are killed, one earns cash, which can be spent on new weapons, while skill points unlock temporary items that support the team. As with everything else in Ghosts, it performs its job adequately, and is not a terrible experience. It's just not very exciting either, and yet again plays catch up to things done far better in previous installments. 

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record at this point, everything I've said can be said about the visuals as well -- they're not the worst, they're far from the best, and yet again they feel highly lacking off the back of Black Ops II, which at least had cool futuristic designs to play around with. Ghosts' vision of a not-quite-post-apocalyptic America is bourgeois at best, an unremarkable representation that could have been eerie and unsettling, if it were presented with anything more than sociopathic carelessness. Audio is the same way -- uninspired music, and the usual shooting noises, alongside bored voice actors. 

A few buggy elements rear their heads too, such the audio frequently cutting out during campaign loading screens, and guns failing to switch properly when they run out of ammo. I also had to restart a checkpoint due to an event not triggering as it should. Nothing game breaking, but at this point, one doesn't expect to see such silly little glitches in a game that's not done a whole lot to reinvent itself. 

Call of Duty may have picked up a reputation as one of the laziest, most callously developed cash cows in the business, but I've always believed that reputation was undeserved. Call of Duty: Ghosts, however, with its slapdash campaign and unambitious multiplayer, contains enough factory-standard cynicism to earn itself plenty of scorn. Nothing Ghosts does is especially bad, but nothing Ghosts does is worth paying any attention to. It exists to exist, a stopgap bit of filler spat out as the industry transitions from one generation of consoles to another. 

Contrary to the old saying, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Black Ops II demonstrated that with style. Ghosts, however, is a dog that simply doesn't want to change. It knows what it is, and sticks with it. It would be a respectable endeavor, if it didn't lead to such an underwhelming and predictable little product. What a sleepy, sleepy dog. 

Goodbye. 



THE VERDICT - Call of Duty: Ghosts

Reviewed by Jim Sterling

5 /10
Mediocre: An exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit 'meh,' really. Check out more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.





Pay $2.99 to have Snoop Dogg narrate Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer matches photo


This is what it's like to play as the Predator in the new Call of Duty DLC photo


The Predator confirmed for Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC photo


Call of Duty: Ghosts Free Fall map now available to all photo


New Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC seems like a real waste photo


Call of Duty's Onslaught DLC dated for PS3, PS4, and PC photo


Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Onslaught photo


Nightfall descends on Call of Duty: Ghosts Extinction photo


Real life in the way? Then sign up for CODnapping photo


CoD: Ghosts Xbox 360 update stabilizes Broadcaster mode photo


Call of Duty: Ghosts Updates, Screenshots, & Videos







Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.





timeline following:
Call of Duty: Ghosts



8:00 PM on 04.15.2014
Pay $2.99 to have Snoop Dogg narrate Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer matches

Infinity Ward is rolling out a bunch of customization items for the Xbox versions of Call of Duty: Ghosts on Tuesday, April 22. Among that content lineup is a Snoop Dogg Voice Pack for multiplayer. It's exactly what you'd ex...more



4:00 AM on 04.04.2014
This is what it's like to play as the Predator in the new Call of Duty DLC

Call of Duty: Ghosts Devastation is now out for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 for $14.99. You get four new multiplayer maps, a new gun, a new chapter in the Extinction co-op mode, and most important of all, you can play as the g...more



7:00 AM on 03.31.2014
The Predator confirmed for Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC

The new trailer for Call of Duty Ghost's second DLC pack, Devastation, is pretty standard stuff for the first few minutes. You know -- the typical overview of maps, lots of gunfire, and an Eminem track laid over it. Then you...more



2:00 PM on 03.06.2014
Call of Duty: Ghosts Free Fall map now available to all

Remember that bonus map that was given out to those who pre-ordered Call of Duty: Ghosts? Well now it's available for everyone, similar to how Activision eventually unlocked Nuketown 2025 in Black Ops II, you can now grab Fre...more



8:00 PM on 02.20.2014
New Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC seems like a real waste

This weekend, Call of Duty: Ghosts' multiplayer will be free to play on Steam and the game is half price ($29.99) to own. There's also double XP being offered, from February 21 at 10:00am to Feb. 24 at 10:00am. These are all...more



7:00 PM on 02.05.2014
Call of Duty's Onslaught DLC dated for PS3, PS4, and PC

Call of Duty: Ghosts Onslaught DLC was released last month for the Xbox One and Xbox 360. And like clockwork, the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC versions of the game will see the new content a month later. Specifically ...more



1:00 PM on 01.29.2014
Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Onslaught

Call of Duty: Ghosts is one of the most disappointing games in the series' history. Although I didn't dislike it as much as Jim did, there's certainly something missing that made past games in the franchise appealing, an...more



3:30 PM on 01.23.2014
Nightfall descends on Call of Duty: Ghosts Extinction

Episode 1: Nightfall is coming with the Onslaught downloadable content for Call of Duty: Ghosts, and here's a deeper look at what to expect. It takes place in the Alaskan wilderness, where the Nightfall Program has been rese...more



3:00 PM on 01.21.2014
Real life in the way? Then sign up for CODnapping

Call of Duty's real life ad campaign continues with this year's Call of Duty: Ghosts. The ad starts off almost as an homage to the intro from The Dark Knight with the whole Joker bank robbery scene. Then we see it's that one...more



8:00 AM on 01.18.2014
CoD: Ghosts Xbox 360 update stabilizes Broadcaster mode

Infinity Ward has pushed out Call of Duty: Ghosts' first update of the year on the Xbox 360, addressing complaints from users regarding its Broadcaster mode and how it would sometimes cause the game to crash. The update also ...more




Call of Duty

2:00 PM on 04.04.2014
Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts: Devastation

Infinity Ward's DLC capabilities may not be up to snuff compared to Treyarch's, but the fact that they're trying is good enough for me. Call of Duty: Ghost's Onslaught DLC was a major step up in quality when compared to their...more



4:00 AM on 04.04.2014
This is what it's like to play as the Predator in the new Call of Duty DLC

Call of Duty: Ghosts Devastation is now out for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 for $14.99. You get four new multiplayer maps, a new gun, a new chapter in the Extinction co-op mode, and most important of all, you can play as the g...more



3:45 PM on 03.31.2014
Activision closing down mobile studio The Blast Furnace

The Blast Furnace was Activision's mobile studio based out of the UK, where they made Call of Duty: Strike Team, Pitfall, and Wipeout. Their mobile plans evidently didn't pan out as they had hoped, as the studio will be closi...more



View all Call of Duty






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more