With E3 2017 approaching, Call of Duty has recently decided that, rather than kamikaze into the drain, maybe we can pull back on the lever and get the nose up.
As of now there are but three different companies attached to the CoD franchise. But I feel it’s time to look at the objective point to which CoD started the downhill slide. The infamous game that is CoD: Ghosts. CoD Ghosts is the least profitable game of the entire AAA releases. Infinite Warfare doesn’t count as I attribute its feathers being melted in the glow of Battlefield 1 in its Icarus flight.
The game is held by fans to be the point where CoD truly started going past the event horizon into a world of space marines, angry trolls, and skill gap compression. But is Ghosts truly a terrible game or is there something to be salvaged?
CoD: Ghosts was supposed to be hailed as a stealth based CoD set with America as a crippled nation with the South American Federation as the main antagonist. This was a lie. There is very little stealth in this game, and it ends up being like every other CoD. The few missions that do require stealth standout by truly fitting the narrative. When you’re sneaking through the jungle, the heart beat sensor makes the game come alive. Unfortunately, these segments are never long and hardly engaging enough. America is supposed to be in a crippled state, but the game almost never shows you this. There’s no slums, no poverty. Just a few craters and a vague story told in cutscene briefings.
As a fun little experiment: Ask someone who’s never played a CoD to play one of the games, skipping all the cutscenes. Then ask them to explain the story. You’ll get some fairly interesting narratives.
Okay, so it’s clear the campaign isn’t great and there’s nothing to salvage there.What about the games multiplayer? There were several new ideas launched by CoD including dynamic maps that could be changed, a little. From full map smoke screens to mortar barrages forcing battles in doors, to K.E.M strikes completely leveling the map. At the time CoD: Ghosts held the fastest kills across any game with the average weapon killing in three shots. What also came about was the scope peripherals that at first dissuaded quick scoping, but then made it worse, according to some.
The inclusion of a melee based enemy: The maniac. A guy who would run around with a big knife, a throwing dagger, and plenty of armor. Keeping the maniac at a distance was crucial for surviving his attack making players think smart and forcing a teamwork mechanic. If the maniac rounds a corner and charges you, he can close the distance long before you kill him. So three people hosing him down is the best defence. The wide range of customizable characters was something CoD: Ghosts broke ground with and in spades. You had a choice between women and men, of all ethnic groups, along with full customizable outfits, headgear, loadouts, and perks. This was by far the best part of the multiplayer experience.
CoD: Ghosts also featured a point-pick unlock system. By ranking up and doing well in matches, a player got a squad point they used to unlock weapons and attachments. This left players to be entirely responsible for choosing weapons for play. This also lead to a more balanced game since the higher ranked players didn’t receive better guns just because they played longer. The game also incorporated a lean and slide function to the experience in order to augment movement. It was fairly easy in past games to spray into running enemies, once you had a bead on them. Now with sliding and leaning you can more easily check highways and get to cover with a higher chance of surviving an engagement. The infamous LMG Lean camper was still prevalent, which exists in every game to equal or lesser degrees.
To supplement the lack of a Zombies, the games “Hoard Mode” in COD: Ghosts offered up a side quest focused on a story about feral beast like aliens invading Earth by means of a meteor shower. Now this was actually quite fun. There was a class-based loadout system, weapons scattered about the map, and a progress system based around challenges such as accuracy rate, killing target enemies etc. The game offered 1-4 person multiplayer with it being beatable on one player mode. Ideally, 2-4 people gave optimal results. For a spare fun side game it was honestly a worthwhile pitch. That didn’t add to the game, but certainly didn’t take away. It also offered a longevity to the game it wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Overall the only lacking thing in CoD: Ghosts was the campaign. Considering the campaign only made up about two to three hours of playable content it should have been easy enough for the developers to add to. The multiplayer tried some new features and functions, and the side-op game mode was more than adequate to kill a few hours with friends with a challenge based game. I feel that CoD: Ghosts simply gets a bad wrap due to a sour tone. Compared to other titles in the franchise, the game made an attempt to change the formula. I would never knock a game hard for attempting to break the mold and try new things to test new ground. It’s with that I say that CoD: Ghosts may have been a lackluster game, but it truly wasn’t as bad as some groups made it out to be.
The bulk of the hate, I would say, came from the odd Battlefield/CoD sibling rivalry: of which Battlefield 4 was objectively superior. It was also the point in time where CoD started recycling their formula. With the disappointment of CoD Modern Warfare 3 and the DLC train that was Black Ops and Black Ops 2. But that’s all the more reason for supporting the Ghosts formula. It did try some new things without radically shifting the system. It tried to innovate, and that alone earns CoD: Ghosts a decent rating among its brother and sister games.
With the future of the series on the horizon in CoD WWII, and the leaked news of Modern Warfare 2 Remastered on it’s way. Be sure to stay tuned for all the latest news and review.
This review was written by:
Park N. Robinson
Gaming activist since 2001, offering well-balanced opinions and personalised reviews and articles on gaming matters, because gaming matters.