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Call Of Duty : Ghosts Review

Cart: Call of Duty: Ghosts
Cab: Xbox 360/PS3
Coin: Infinity Ward

One of my favourite FPS games of this generation was Call of Duty 4, a game so influential that its own endless series of sequels are little more than money spinning clones of the original. It is fair to say that Activision struck gold with COD 4, and has been burrowing the same mine ever since.

Not that you can blame it, as the annual new releases always sell in their millions, with no sign of the success stopping. The problem has always been a desperate lack of innovation, and a feeling that you are only paying for a souped up map and mode pack every year.

Yet, millions of gamers quite happily stump up wads of cash for the latest installment every year, and then pay through the nose for (shiver) season passes. Now it is very easy to lambast these gamers, but they are happy enough to do it, and why shouldn’t they be? Activision is only giving them what they want; more of the same.

Near future. Or something.

Near future. Or something.

However, it does amaze me how many positive reviews the games get every year, such as this one from IGN, which reads more like a press release than an actual review. They defend such unwarranted praise by saying that they have to judge a game ‘on its own merits’, and not set it against previous entries in the franchise. A ridiculous standpoint. What would they do if a games company literally released the same game every year, with a new title and nothing else? Judge it on its own merits, right?

Ghosts adds very little to the yearly franchise. Yes there are new modes and gadgets, but this is very much another COD 4 in new clothes. There is one excellent addition, Squads, which adds A.I bots in a calmer approach to online gaming that may suit the single player looking to expand the game’s non-competitive offerings, and the cooperative, alien hunting mode is also a quality distraction.

The campaign is a step back from the branching story of last year’s release, which was in itself a throwaway tale. The story here is predictable, forgettable and with enough utterly over the top set pieces to ensure it all fades into one grey lump of big bang/wake up dazed/big bang/wake up dazed mess that has all the emotional interest of a broken brick. (Although it may seem as if I am attacking IGN a bit too much, I must point out that they said the story had an  evocative character focus and includes interesting human drama. They actually said that. Really.)

Moving away from the campaign, which took me the best part of six hours to trudge through, the online portion is as good as it has ever been. Tight controls, thrilling matches, well designed maps and an assortment of weapons and perks that lends the game a natural style with almost arcade like qualities. You can really put your own stamp on the matches, and feel that you are always improving and discovering new tactics and methods, which is helped by the way the game eeks out upgrades to you.

There is a bit in space. It is silly beyond measure.

There is a bit in space. It is silly beyond measure.

The online mode has an innate addictiveness that even its big rival, the vastly-superior-in-every-other-way, Battlefield, has never been able to capture. The problem is that Ghosts is no better, more addictive or compelling than any other game in the series. I tested this by going back and playing online on COD 4 and Modern Warfare 2 and it really did feel like I was playing with different maps, and little else.

It is this that has to stop me recommending this to anyone who is growing at all tired with Call of Duty or has played a few titles in the series before. You are not getting anything you haven’t played before.

And yet, and yet…there will be millions of gamers that will get billions of hours of entertainment from this game. I myself will no doubt be one of them, popping online for a game here and there in a game series that simply can’t be matched for the immediacy and addictiveness of its online play.

I just wish that Activision would look over at Battlefield, and much like EA did with FIFA and Pro Evo a few years ago, decide that they are going to win on all fronts, not just with the perfect mechanics of a game that got it right in 2007.

Our review of the next generation version of Ghosts, for PS4 and Xbox One, will go live nearer the launch of the consoles!

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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.

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