During the fall season you can always expect three things: the changing of the leaves, a drop in temperature, (depending on your location), and of course another Call of Duty game, even though you’re still probably playing last year’s version of COD. Let’s face it, this series is a goldmine and Activision will keep pumping out a new game every year until gamers find another horse to ride. What makes the game more appetizing this year is that not only is there one new next generation console, but two, and they’re literally launching right on top of each other. Both Sony and Microsoft are coming out guns blazing with their next generation consoles, the PS4 and the Xbox One. Developers Infinity Ward, Neversoft and Raven have joined forces to deliver an all assault on current every console on the market with the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Is this game ready for the next generation? Let’s find out.
As with all recent COD games there are two gaming experiences hoping to spike your adrenaline. One is the single player story mode that plays out like a Michael Bay action film, and then there’s the multiplayer mode, which is the true meat of the game and keeps Internet service providers in business. Let’s be honest, there are many players who skip the single player campaign mode all together, thinking of it as merely an added bonus feature, and dive into multiplayer head-first. The choice is yours, but for those of you who enjoy playing the game solo, the campaign is actually quite exciting this year.
The setting takes place in a “What if?” scenario where the Middle East has been nuked to near obliteration, and the oil producing companies of South America set-up The Foundation to get control of all the oil of the planet. When an American satellite is hijacked by The Federation and hacked to attack targets on American soil, a military unit known as Ghosts are dispatched to save the red, white, and blue before imminent annihilation is unleashed. Yes, it’s far-fetched, but it plays out in such a thrill ride that the implausibility factor will not matter. This campaign has you fighting on the land, sea, air and even in space.
You play a chunk of the story through the eyes of a family, Elias Walker who is one of the original Ghosts, and his two sons Logan and Hesh. Thrown into the mix is also their super loyal dog Riley, who becomes very useful in certain areas of the game. Sure, this family element can be on the corny side, but it keeps you attached and gives you something to follow, otherwise it would just a bunch of mindless shootouts where you don’t care about the outcome.
Anyone familiar with previous Call of Duty games, or any FPS for that matter, will have no issue making their way around, because the rules of play are still the same, with a few extra touches. For instance, during specific missions Riley can assist you by going into places you can’t and doing tasks such as sniffing out explosives. Your loyal canine will also help you in a fight if you are ambushed by tearing his fangs into an enemy soldier, and if you’re down he will even drag you out of a tight situation. Sure, it’s gimmicky, but it works. The only thing that would have made this feel better on the PS4 version is if you were able to control Riley by using the DualShock 4’s touchpad, in the same manner the OWL is used in Killzone: Shadow Fall, but that opportunity was lost here.
This is one of the longest COD campaign modes than the previous games in the series, stretching into 10 to 12 hours of gameplay. There are definitely various kick ass moments that will make you want to applaud when the mission is over. One that stands out is the space battle, and after seeing the film Gravity, this just makes you hungry for more. After the credits role on the campaign, you can jump into multiplayer to take on the world, (which will be detailed below in relay value).
Both the PS4 and the Xbox One versions of the game have their strengths and weaknesses, but the gameplay is the same on both. The standout of the PS4 game is that it runs natively in 1080p whereas the Xbox One can only output 720 and is upscaled. But on the flip side the Xbox One’s 60 frame per second rate is much smoother than the PS4’s, so fanboys can just battle it out in forums to see who wins here. No matter which console you play it on, you will still get your money’s worth.
The game was released first on the current gen systems and looks good, but on the PS4 you will see a noticeable difference in sharpness and colors. Is it a major leap that will make your jaw drop? No, not at all. Realistically, the average consumer will not notice the difference unless they had two TVs sitting side-by-side. The character resolution and facial expressions in the cut scenes are very detailed and the animation for gunfire and explosions jumps out at you. Since this game was not built from the ground up for either the PS4 or the Xbox One, you’re not getting the full monty either way. We’ll discuss graphics more on next year’s COD, which will do more to harness the power of the new systems.
Everything in the audio department is top shelf, with excellent voice work, (including former Superman, Brandon Routh), sound effects that will make you believe you’re in the middle of a war zone, and a Hollywood style music score. The big bangs sound good, but in those moments when you have to sneak around is stealth mode, just listen to the environments around you and you will appreciate the sound design even more. If you plan to set up your console to a surround sound system, you will appreciate the experience even more.
The Call of Duty series is multiplayer heaven for players, so obviously this is where the true soul of the game lives. Personalization is the main feature this time around, sporting a Create a Soldier system that gives you nearly endless options of configurations. For die hard COD multiplayers, this new feature offers about forty weapons and thirty five new perks that will make you become obsessed with conquering the perfect loadout. It should also be noted that for the first time female soldiers have been added to multiplayer, which is a very cool option because there are many girl gamers out there who have never been represented.
Out of the box, there are fifteen maps, and depending on what system you are playing the game on, some offer exclusive bonus maps. The maps range from backdrops from the solo campaign to new environments designed for multiplayer. Obviously, more maps will be available throughout 2014, so players should have no problems finding their map of choice, whether they are playing on the PSN or over Xbox Live.
The variety of games is plentiful, featuring the Legacy Mode that includes such favorites as Search and Destroy, Team Deathmatch, Domination, Infected, Kill Confirmed, and Free-For-All. Some of the new modes are Cranked, where after killing a player you must kill another player within thirty seconds or you instantly die. Then there’s Blitz, a team mode in which to score points you must successfully shoot your way into the opposing team’s base zone. One of the most popular new modes will most likely be Extinction, a co-op mode that is a new take on the previous Zombie mode, but this time you’re up against an alien attack.
Reviewed by Johnny McNair