Call of Duty: Ghosts
PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Another year, another Call of Duty, another 400-odd dirhams. For pretty much a decade, this has been the standard routine for gamers, and to not follow its now well-trodden path is rather like asking about the vegetarian options in a steakhouse. And there has been good reason: the titles have mostly been absolutely superb, setting the benchmark for first-person shooters and being the main reference points whenever video gaming is compared to Hollywood.
But the trouble with continued blockbuster success is that it can stifle the urge to get creative. Sure, the old paradigm “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might be fine for, say, a car, but with games, you’d probably prefer that each instalment brought something new to the table. And it’s this that is perhaps the greatest let-down of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Whereas franchises such as Assassin’s Creed have managed to totally revamp the gameplay in their old(ish) age – the latest and sixth game being a perfect example with its greater emphasis on naval warfare – with Ghosts, it’s largely the same tried-and-tested format.
Naturally, it’s a high-octane familiarity from the offset. In the main single-player campaign, you engage in a zero-gravity shoot-out on a space station, survive an earth-shattering missile attack on San Diego and partake in some convert operations in dystopian Los Angeles in the hands of a shadowy South American organisation called The Federation.
These big-set pieces are CoD’s mainstay and are as impressive as anything we’ve seen from the series. But, oh, to be a first-time player. Anyone who has been religiously buying a new copy each November is – sadly – likely to feel that “CoD fatigue”, with the niggling sensation that you’ve been here before.
The story, too, is arguably the game’s weakest to date, once again pitting the US against a world of international terrorists and criminals. Last year’s CoD Black Ops 2 managed to take on the use of drones and turn them against America, hinting at the dangers of such remote-controlled military. But with this, it seems like plain ol’ Us vs Them territory.
Of course, with CoD there are countless souls out there who couldn’t care less about the single-player options. Alongside the usual classics for multiplayer, Ghosts gives us four new competitive modes. With Hunted, ill-equipped players fight for control of zones to win better weapons. Search & Rescue sees you re-spawn fallen allies by collecting their dog tags. Cranked turns things up a notch, blowing players up if they don’t kill within 30 seconds of their last takedown. Finally, Blitz is a rugby-with-guns style game where points are scored by entering the enemy team’s zone.
Ghosts still is the king of shoot-em-up multiplayers and is likely to be the main source of lost man-hours for the next 12 months.
For those who simply want a good first-person actioner to keep you entertained for a few weekends, there really is nothing wrong with Ghosts. It’s intense, offers edge-of-the-seat action and is gloriously entertaining. You’d just hope they mix things up a bit next time. But what does it matter what we say? You’ve probably already bought it.
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