If there is a single franchise in need of a next-gen shot in the arm, it is Call of Duty. Although yearly installments continue to fly off shelves, sales numbers are trending downwards. Because gamers only care about the end result, game-makers are forced to bear short development cycles while producing material that is not repetitive yet still good. New hardware capabilities provide a unique opportunity to reinvigorate a franchise. While Call of Duty Ghosts for Xbox One mostly sticks to the franchise’s tried-and-true formula, it is far from fresh makeup on an old face.
Call of Duty Ghosts’ single-player campaign tells the age-old story of a good guy turned bad. Elias Walker leads a team of elite U.S. soldiers called Ghosts. Players follow Walker’s sons, Logan and David, who become Ghosts in order to put an end to a 10-year-long war that is locked in a stalemate. The goal throughout the campaign is to hunt down and kill former Ghost and main antagonist Gabriel Rorke.
The game’s plot is mundane, predictable and can sometimes be hard to follow. Cutscenes are few and far between, leaving players with little connection to the characters. When they do occur, these moments only highlight a lack of depth and below average voice-acting. However, what Ghosts lacks in story, it more than makes up for in action. While playing through the campaign, players will swim alongside sharks, drive tanks and repel down a skyscraper. The experience is enjoyable in the same way that watching The Expendables is — the action is so fast-paced, players will forget about the poor storyline.
Veteran Call of Duty players will no doubt experience deja vu while fighting through some of the game’s levels, but never has the franchise taken gamers to space or given them the ability to bite enemies to death as a dog. While Call of Duty Ghosts will throw players into familiar gunfights, the variety of weapons and unique experiences will keep gamers engaged throughout the four-to-five-hour single-player mode.
Much like the campaign, multiplayer in Ghosts does not veer far from the Call of Duty standard. Gamers who have any experience with the franchise will have no problem jumping right into the action. However, maps are set up differently and are larger than previous installments. Verticality plays a major role in multiplayer levels that have less open space and are stacked on top of each other. Snipers will have to pick their spots wisely as matches are more fast-paced and action-packed than ever before.
Maps are brought to life by dynamic events. As its name suggests, small quakes will send shockwaves through the Tremor map. This can have a huge effect on aiming and accuracy. Players located at certain locations throughout the map will even take damage. There are no set patterns to memorize for each map; dynamic events can take place at any time or not at all. These events bring the cinematic experience to multiplayer, creating memorable moments for gamers playing with friends.
Ghosts has a revamped prestige system and players will need to use Squad Points in order to earn new weapons and perks. Each gamer can use up to 10 different characters in multiplayer, with each leveling up separately. In order to customize loadouts, players must purchase items with Squad Points. The in-game currency is earned by racking up kills and completing challenges. This is a welcome addition as players will get to change the appearance of their character and choose their own unlocks as they level up.
Extinction is the game’s answer for Zombies. Gamers work with a group of fellow soldiers to take down alien hives while holding off alien forces. Enemies will become increasingly difficult as players advance. In order to combat this, soldiers must set up defenses such as Sentry guns and turrets. There is an enjoyable degree of strategy in Extinction as the mode is part shooter and part tower defense. Players will want to explore the environment but wandering off too far will make gamers an easy target for enemies.
Visuals and textures get a well-needed shot in the arm courtesy of more advanced hardware. This does not have a major influence on character models but locations are beautiful. Environments are bright and detailed. Players will stop to admire everything from lush jungles to war-torn baseball stadiums that are vividly created and display advanced lighting techniques. Each mission is also introduced with a graphically artistic cutscene that ties the storyline together.
>Unfortunately, the items in the environment do not act next gen. As Ghosts make their way through bushes, plants are lifeless and still. While some objects are completely destructible, it is inexplicable why others do not react at all. Grenades also have little effect on surrounding areas.
Call of Duty Ghosts provides a solid next-gen foundation for the franchise to build upon. Portions of gameplay are stale and feel like old Call of Duty experiences. This is especially true in multiplayer. However, an updated engine, improved graphics and a unique campaign breathe new life into the Call of Duty franchise. With scarce competition on the market, Call of Duty Ghosts is a must-have launch title for Xbox One.