Who you gonna call?
These aren't the kind of Ghosts that the Ghostbusters deal with. Call of Duty: Ghosts represents another solid entry in the CoD franchise, but the IP is looking a little thin and the yearly release schedule is a case of familiarity breeding contempt amongst some gamers. However this said, the Infinity Ward instalment of this popular gaming franchise does attempt to bring some interesting ideas to the table and presents a longer campaign compared to previous CoD entries.Story
The Federation (Not Star Trek, no sorry), uses the ODIN weapons platform to level the US in a series of orbital bombardment strikes. Now pushed on all sides the US struggles to maintain its last cities and relies on the help of a secretive group of warriors called the Ghosts: living legends that operate in No Man's Land outside of the last remaining defensive wall.
It's a Call of Duty sci-fi scenario meets a dash of post-apocalyptic shenanigans with all of South America as the bad guys.
It's a little cut-paste from previous CoD games, but if you can blast your way through it you can find some reasonable storytelling, some solid set-pieces and a pretty good setup for further games in this universe.Gameplay
Single player casts you in the shoes of Logan Walker, brother of Hesh Walker and the sons of Elias Walker (he's supposed to be a famous badass in this timeline). You'll pop into the shoes of other soldiers, chopper pilots and tank drivers now and then through the (roughly) ten hour long campaign and experience a variety of familiar CoD based gameplay. There are some refinements to the typical shooting action, the usual QTE's, slow-mo breaches and rail shooter style sections. Atop this you have some simple vehicle controls (such as choppers and tanks) that are a lot of fun to play.
There's an (optional) auto-lean system in place when you're in cover that's quite nice. All you need to do is get behind something, look for the yellow arrow on your reticule and when you aim you'll lean out from cover. This little iteration makes for some better tactical options and allows a modicum of stealth if you need to minimise getting your head blown off.
Then there are remote sniper rifles to control and the chance to synch up to A-10 tank hunter drones, your bro's dog Riley (in a few stealth sections) – Riley is a pretty neat mutt to control and you can order him onto the attack quite simply when Hesh gives you command of the dog. Otherwise at times you'll synch up with him through a remote camera-vest and control him in dog-cam.
These stealth sections are pretty neat and Riley can perform sneaky takedowns, trick enemies by barking and savage them when they come to investigate.
You won't be customising weapons, or toting around a badass ninja-arsenal of gear with you. You'll get the mission loadout, picking up new guns and trading weapons with the enemies when you run out of ammo.
There are some familiar shooting mechanics at play here and it feels familiar, comfortable and that's perhaps the danger. Like an old pair of shoes it fits and why bother to change, if it's going to work and it's not too worn.
Unfortunately the new mechanics and set pieces don't quite pull you out of the feeling that you've done it all before elsewhere. There is one section that I really loved, where you get to sneak into a heavily guarded base and you need to use disguise tactics. It's quite heavily scripted but it works in the context of the story and the gameplay elements are nigh on flawless for this particular sequence.
The game has generous checkpoints and doesn't punish you too hard for failing a particular section. It also has the usual slew of difficulty modes, with the hardest showing a badass level of difficulty.
Finally: the game comes on two discs, with disc 2 being a mandatory content install for the single player. You'll need to throw that second disc on for the single player campaign to function properly and it seems to contain the high-def movies and video files used for a lot of the single player game's intermission sequences and on-screen sfx videos. Such as computer banks and hero tools.Graphics
The CoD engine on current gen is looking a little bit dated now, but don't get me wrong, this is one pretty game for a current gen machine. It's got a good level of detail in terms of the mission areas and the design itself. The character textures are solid and there's a broken realistic beauty to the environments that means it's not just all browns and greys, there's crumbled skyscrapers amidst the wrecks of devastated US. There's lush jungles/forests and snowy arctic conditions... there's even a beautiful set of underwater sections, as well as zero gravity space sequences with their unique textural palettes and lighting effects.
The frame-rate remains solid and there's no texture pop or tear. Animations
A significant step up from previous CoD entries, the animations for Ghosts are excellent and extremely lifelike. The character interactions and the lip synch, facial animations are some of the best I've seen yet for the CoD series and the context sensitive AI kill interactions are solid stuff. Riley's takedowns are quick and brutal and there are various nuanced animations throughout the whole game that feed into both the single player and multiplayer.