(PlayStation 4)

Call of Duty: Ghosts (PlayStation 4)

Game Review

Call of Duty: Ghosts Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Ben Potter

Same old sheet

Over the past five years, the Call of Duty franchise has slow-motion breached its way into popular culture, with millions of fans worldwide eagerly enabling last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II to earn over $500 million in just 24 hours. Whether this trend continues remains to be seen, but the bigger question is: does Call of Duty: Ghosts deserve a similar level of success?

Renowned for their po-faced military dialogue and set piece fetishism, the narratives of recent titles haven’t quite been able to live up to the staggering bar set by the exceptional Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and unfortunately, not much has changed this time around.

You command the role of heavy breathing mute, Logan – an American living in the not-too-distant future. In this interpretation of events to come, the nations of South America have banded together to form a fearsome coalition of countries calling themselves the Federation. Having broken a treaty with the USA, the fierce faction launch a devastating orbital strike on major cities all over North America. The fate of the rest of the world is unclear – although this is Call of Duty, so naturally other countries don’t take priority.

Skipping ahead a few years, Logan is now a fully trained soldier trying to keep Federation forces away from what little is left of unoccupied US soil, and it’s while out on patrol with his brother Hesh (a dog name) and their dog Riley (a human name), that things predictably begin to unfold. Our silent protagonist is then thrust from place to place, where he must shoot people, infiltrate enemy bases, and engage in a little stealth, before eventually stumbling upon and joining the ranks of the legendary Ghosts – a squad of highly trained elite soldiers.

One of the major additions to this instalment is dogs. While they’ve appeared in previous games as foes in the campaign and as a reward in the multiplayer, you’ve never been able to take direct control of them. Although Riley is only playable in a few scenarios, these sequences are stand out moments throughout the latest campaign, and it’s a shame that he’s not available more often. Viewing from the perspective of a camera on his head, his duties involve taking out enemy personnel, and, in one mission, crawling through long grass to avoid detection. While we’re not entirely sure whether a war-ready German Shepherd would be all that inconspicuous when crawling through knee-high grass, the experience is exhilarating, as you attempt to remain undetected while scouting out foes, providing a reminder of the ghillie suit missions of old.

Besides the addition of Riley, the glaring issue with the campaign is its familiarity. You’ll frequently find yourself “Running to location A” or “Hacking object B” – it may be a different game, but it’s precisely the same gameplay that you’ll have experienced in previous titles. Another problem is the frequency with which you jet across the globe, as it becomes easy to forget why you're in a particular location at all, especially when it’s merely to gather nondescript ‘intel’.

Nevertheless, these simple tasks almost always result in massive explosions, a huge loss of lives, and raise numerous questions regarding the status of the revered Ghosts themselves. While we understand that a mission where you walk into a building, hold square to "gather intel", and then walk out again wouldn’t be very interesting, it just doesn’t fit thematically when the titular team are supposed to infiltrate enemy bases undetected, yet somehow end up detonating sky scrapers.

Furthermore, despite the fact that the remainder of the US is treading on eggshells and is a shadow of its former self, it seems to have no problem going toe-to-toe with the Federation, matching, and more often than not, beating them in combat with fleets of tanks, helicopters, and jets. This all begs the question: why didn’t they fight back sooner? It is plot holes like this that will completely rip you out of the experience, and with the main villain being a man who’s made it his mission to eradicate the Ghosts one by one, it feels like the Federation only exists to give you something to do during large chunks of the adventure.

Ultimately, the campaign feels inconsistent, with poor dialogue, a completely daft story, and characters that you could never emotionally connect with. There are a couple of great missions – one of which sees you engaging in a shootout in space – but they fail to redeem the lack of compelling narrative.

While the series’ single player department continues its unfortunate downward spiral, though, Call of Duty enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the multiplayer is bigger than ever, with new modes, customisation options, and class combinations. The first thing that we noticed when we jumped into an online game was the visuals. In prior PS3 releases, there was a noticeable drop in graphical fidelity from the campaign to the multiplayer component, but on the PS4, it looks identical. Every sign is legible, the small print on the side of flash bangs is decipherable, and even the seams of uniforms have made the transition from placeholder blurs to what the developer originally intended for you to see. It may be subtle, but it makes all the difference in the world when you can actually distinguish far-off moving shapes as other players.

New game modes include Grind, where you must collect the dog tags of fallen enemies and bank them at a specific location, and Cranked, where you're pressured into maintaining a killstreak before you explode. In addition, there's Hunted, where everyone starts with a pistol, and must rely on ammo drops to gather new weaponry. These join the plethora of existing modes to round out a well-stocked and varied multiplayer experience, even if some of the maps aren’t as convincing as others.

The strongest location by far involves a ruined castle, its grounds, and a hamlet on a hill. From the winding tight corners of the hamlet to the open, hilly landscape outside of the castle walls, it really is a standout piece of design, allowing for all classes and play styles to thrive. Unfortunately, the other locales simply can’t live up to it, with more industrial maps than you can shake a stick at. It's true that most players won't pay too much attention to the scenery while shooting out adversaries, but the aforementioned map was so good that it really made us sit up and take a hard look at the others.

Loadout customisation remains practically unchanged, albeit with new perks, weapons, and strike packages (kill streak rewards). One strike package in particular sees some of Riley’s canine brothers make the leap from the campaign, but rather than swarm enemies in a gang before disappearing, as with previous titles, they’ll follow you around. It’s not possible to directly command your hound, but it’ll tail you closely, rushing any nearby enemies that it sees, and should you die, it’ll trot back across the map to your spawn point in order to rejoin you.

Perhaps the largest addition is character customisation. You can now name, tweak the uniform, and select the gender of your online combatant before taking them into the fray. It’s also possible to unlock multiple characters, customising them all with their own unique loadouts and fashion sense. This is for one of two reasons: the first being that you might enjoy the ease of switching to a whole new character, and the second being Ghosts’ new Squads mode.

Taking pride of place on the main menu, Squads sees you customise your six-person army and lead the computer-controlled warriors into a variety of game types. It’s essentially a bot mode, where you can either shack up with some buddies and take on a team of them, or, flanked by your custom bot team, challenge other players' squads to a showdown – even if they’re offline, with the individuals in question being replaced by more bots. While there’s been a lot of work done to the artificial intelligence since the series’ last outing, though, they still have a nasty habit of acting a little Terminator-like, and you’ll see many a kill cam where they’ll eerily snap onto you through foliage and walls. Also, when playing against an opposing squad, the two teams do tend to rubber band quite a lot, with one group doing extraordinarily well before taking a dive as the opponents attempt to clean up.

Rounding off the impressive amount of content on offer is alien blast-em-up, Extinction. Playing either in split screen or in a team of four online, this sees you transport a compact drill around an alien infested town, protecting it while it destroys the extraterrestrials' hives. Upon placing the drill at one of these burrows, the disgruntled owners will make their opinions known, attacking both the tool and your team, in forms ranging from small, leaping grunts to larger, armoured beasts.

By actually giving you room to breathe and a set of objectives, Extinction already has a huge advantage over its Treyarch developed alternative, but it’s with the addition of loadouts that it really starts to pull away. These aren't the same as those found in standard multiplayer, as you select a class, handgun, ammo type, team support, strike package, and equalizer. Ammo types include incendiary and explosive, and can be thrown on the ground for your team to plunder, while team support includes explosives and armour, equalizers provide high-damage items like miniguns and grenade turrets, and strike packages feature sentry guns and vulture drones.

Just like with zombies, if you die you lose all of your progress and must start from the beginning, but as with the multiplayer, you level up, unlocking more items to kit out your loadout. Everything in your loadout other than your class and choice of handgun is assigned a d-pad direction, and as you kill things and destroy hives you’ll earn money, which can then be spent on placing and using your selected items.

Upon destroying a hive, you’ll be presented with a skill point. This can then be put into any of your loadout slots, from increasing the ammo that a thrown ammo box will award you and your team, to enhanced weapon damage and sentry gun range. There’s a real tactical aspect to setting up your equipment, and no decision should be undertaken without first discussing it with your team. Our fully upgraded armour box came in extremely useful as the level progressed, effectively affording our comrades double health.

Having to begin from the start each time is a little frustrating, and it does get really rather difficult towards the end – but Extinction is a well thought out and slickly executed offering that should provide hours of entertainment all by itself. Attempting to infringe upon Treyarch’s massively popular Zombies mode was always going to be a dangerous game to play, but it looks like the developer in question will have to pull up its bootstraps if it wants to compete in the future.

Conclusion

Call of Duty is a series that's getting stagnant. This latest edition is a solid shooter, with highly tuned mechanics, an addictive multiplayer offering, and a plethora of content to play through – but it very much feels like a familiar game with a few minor adjustments. The new Extinction mode is particularly good, but it's the highlight in a title that's following a tired recipe. Fans of the series will enjoy Call of Duty: Ghosts regardless, but those of you looking for something new will have to dig out those night vision goggles and search elsewhere.

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User Comments (29)

Reverend_Skeeve

#2

Reverend_Skeeve said:

Good review, giving a good, un-fanboyish impression of how the game is. But, this being the very first PS4 review on this site, I'd like to have read more about the technical side...y'know...graphics and stuff. I mean, this is the first PS4 review EVAR, so a little more, maybe? But: good review, nonetheless! Confirms what I thought this game would be, so this is a no buy for me...lost interest in CoD after MW 2.

Scollurio

#4

Scollurio said:

An honest review. Wow. Thanks for that. Im not interested in COD for a while now, this just helps my cause. Thank you!

Confused_DudeStaff

#6

Confused_Dude said:

@Reverend_Skeeve thanks for reading! What we had to be careful with was not to review the console itself, but rather the game. As Sammy's iluded to, there'll be an article going up later that derails the major difference between the PS3 and PS4 versions :)

Reverend_Skeeve

#10

Reverend_Skeeve said:

@Confused_Dude @get2sammyb Awesome, can't wait to hear what you guys have to say about the differences. Again, good review. You guys not buying into the CoD-hype and giving an honest opinion about a launch-next-gen blockbuster just reconfirmes why I appreciate Pushsquare so much. Don't comment always, but I read pretty much everything you guys post on this site and enjoy all your work a lot! Keep up the excellent work!

banacheck

#11

banacheck said:

I read a few reviews of COD today, one from a website i trust and give an honest opinion & if thay've come across any issues thay'll will tell you. The review is very much the same as yours, while adding that the PS4 has the better graphics over the PS3. But i came across a review that makes it sound like COD Ghosts on the PS4 has major framerate issues, the video thay showed didn't show any framerate issues i could see. Thay also made out the graphics are not really a step-up from COD Ghosts on the PS3, so i do find this review puzzling. Please can you comment if you've come across framerate issues and how bad if you have time, thank you.

Confused_DudeStaff

#12

Confused_Dude said:

@banacheck interesting... Honestly I never came across any framerate issues what so ever. As I mentioned further up, there's an article outlining the differences between the PS3 and PS4 version incoming which should clear up your concerns.

get2sammybAdmin

#13

get2sammyb said:

@Reverend_Skeeve Thanks for reading and glad you're enjoying the site. We're just hitting our stride so it's only going to get better from here. Having said that, it's worth stressing that on our scale a 6/10 represents "not bad", so I don't want anyone to think we're suggesting you shouldn't play it. It's a solid game, it's just getting a bit tired. I personally skipped Black Ops 2, so I'm ready to give this one a shot.

@banacheck You can read our comparison here: http://www.pushsquare.com/news/2013/11/what_are_the_main_differences_between_call_of_duty_ghosts_on_ps4_and_ps3

banacheck

#14

banacheck said:

@Confused_Dude
Thanks for the reply, i'll be definitely be reading your article on the differences. A very good review of COD Ghosts i like your honest opinion, because COD has been going for so long you know what your buying gameplay wise, which is good but also can be bad.

Thanks get2sammyb for the link,

Reverend_Skeeve

#15

Reverend_Skeeve said:

@get2sammyb Yeah, I have been reading here since the Feb. reveal of youknowwhat and even "back then" the site was good to read. And, as I said before, I especially enjoy the community here. And I didn't perceive the review as CoD Ghosts being a bad game. As written by Ben, I expected the Game to be more of the same (just shinier) sp-wise and a refined offering of the beloved mp-part...which it is, it would seem. Which is fine. I'm sure the set pieces are all bombastic and such, but I hardly play mp at all (too many screaming teens and morons) and the ooh rah!-esque single player "stories" of modern fps' are getting too tiresome and just bad for my liking.

So the review just reconfirmed what I expected: mediocre single player and a refined mp-offering for the fans.

Much more looking forward to Killzone. The game looks gorgeous, the mp seems fun and fresh and the single player has a very interesting setting...especially since the presumed good guys might not seem so good after all. Also, I live in Berlin, Germany, so this cold war/city divided by a huge wall setting is of particular interest for me. :)

Azikira

#16

Azikira said:

FINALLY, a review site that isn't afraid to scrutinize the most sterile game series ever produced!

cherrypoppa

#17

cherrypoppa said:

Wow, a 6! so good to see a site base reviews on what they think of the game , not what fanboys want the score to be(ign gamespot)!! thank-you push square joined your site a month ago and nevered looked back!! great stuff keep up the awesome work!

NathanUC

#18

NathanUC said:

It's a game I wanted to like and a game I really hoped would be something different.. but it feels exactly the same as the others to me. It's definitely not bad, but I wouldn't consider it good either. A 6/10 is perfect. I've only played the PS3 version but I'd still like to try it on PS4 when I can. It's not a game I'd buy for full price.

Munkyknuts

#20

Munkyknuts said:

Good review :) I've never played COD I don't like online multiplayer gaming and the single player campaigns always seem tacked on. I played Battlefield 3 but only because it came up on PS+ a while back. Honest reviews of the big game releases are hard to come by, and your review clearly justifies why the game got the lower score and doesn't trash it just to be all controversial and edgy.

jgrangervikings

#21

jgrangervikings said:

Biggest problem that I run into with Call of Duty games is that I suck. Let me restate: I'm pretty good, but compared to the COD fanatics that play the online component for hundreds of hours, I'm lousy. So, when I jump in and I'm level 15 and everyone else is totally leveled up with all the weapons unlocked, I get blown away. I want to see COD come out with an online mode where level 1 has all the weapons and unlocks, and as you level up you actually LOSE weapons. It would finally level the playing field: Give the noobs the big guns and make the COD masters work hard to get their kills.

DHW

#22

DHW said:

I find it weird CoD finally starts to gets bad reviews when Ghosts comes out, which I thought was REALLY good compared to earlier games! Note, it's the first CoD game I've actually bought since CoD4.

But I'll respect anyone's opinion. :)

Gamer83

#23

Gamer83 said:

@darkhairwarrior

I was thinking the same thing. To me, the time to start really lacing into the series was Modern Warfare 3. I actually like that game quite a bit but it is the definition of 'been there, done that.' Ghosts at least changes some things up, and naturally, here come the negative reviews. On the one hand it's nice to see people finally asking for big change but on the other the poor reviews could make the devs go back to something like MW 3 rather than move away further away from it since reviews for MW 3 were very positive. Anyway, I'm still looking forward to getting this one, if nothing else I know I'll enjoy the multiplayer with some friends. I fully expect Killzone: Shadow Fall will stand head and shoulders above all other FPS this fall though. At least for me. I enjoy KZ multiplayer and I've also always enjoyed the campaigns and Shadow Falls looks set to have the best campaign in the series so far.

hydeks

#24

hydeks said:

call of duty is a series getting stagnant?!!? It was stagnant since World at War came out lol

Bad-MuthaAdebis

#25

Bad-MuthaAdebis said:

I played world at war, mw2 and black ops. I don't understand the frenzy. They're all the same game. I was considering buying ghosts but this review swings it. No thanks.

Cirno

#26

Cirno said:

Wow I never though I'd see the day when a professional journalist gives a COD game anything less than 7.

From what I have seen/played 6/10 is a fair ranking.

DarkKirby

#27

DarkKirby said:

Glad to see this site didn't cave and give Ghosts a good score because Activision hands out advertisement money.

Ghosts is not just a bad game from the perspective of how stagnant the series is getting, it's a bad game compared to other CoD games.

Hilariously, when MW3 crashed on PC the window that came up says Modern Warefare 2 has crashed.

At least Treyarch tries, Infinity Ward literally doesn't give a sheet because they are well aware the game will sell well regardless and have no shame in abusing that fact.

odd69

#28

odd69 said:

I'm glad for this review, i think its awesome someone give this series the score it deserves. But shouldnt it be the best one since the upgrade and score a 9 while the others should be a 6 LOL

GhostFourTwenty

#29

GhostFourTwenty said:

I made an account just to have my input on this review because i felt like the review wasnt very accurate.

First things first. COD is COD. It isnt going to drastically change into some completely different game. Its just another COD and personally, i like that. I like the solace in knowing every year there will be a new COD experience. The people who complain about it being too similar to other CODs are clearly a little bit slow. It doesnt take a genius to figure out that ghosts is going to be a lot like other CODs.

What they have done with ghosts is bring a new style to the COD franchise. This isnt like mw2 or 3 where the engine is quite rigid and the shooting is very cold and in all honesty quite unrealistic. It isnt like black ops with the cartoony touch to it, with rusty chemical waste styling and hazard signs everywhere.

Its more like a mix of the two. You can see a touch of mw in there, along with a touch of some kind of military/futuristic cartoon touches thrown in. On the ps4 specifically it is stunning and the graphics combined with the dualshock 4 make a highly pleasurable gaming experience, even if you arent a huge fan of the game itself.

The weapons are more realistic, their attributes more varied and the bullet damage is more realistic as well. This isnt some kiddies black ops 2 game where you can run about with a pistol and turn on people with smg's, its a lot more tactical and much harder than other CODs. I think thats part of the reason there is a lot of hate for this COD. People just bought it, got their ass handed to them and then went onine to rage about it.

The perk system allows you be very creative and its actually paramount to your success. If you.dont get the perks and know the maps, you will get smoked, and that is the best part about it i think.

Its actually a challenge and a game that takes real skill to play. Any true COD player will love it on ps4.

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