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Call of Duty: Ghosts (Video Game Review)

Call of Duty: Ghosts was announced earlier this year, and the new release from developer Infinity Ward and publisher Activision will be the tenth release for the franchise dating all the way back to 2003. Infinity Ward set the bar for the first-person genre on current generation consoles with Call of Duty 2 as a launch title for Xbox 360, and the company later raised the same mark by creating one of the most beloved first-person shooters of all-time with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The Call of Duty series has since established itself as the most played first-person shooter series during a generation of console gaming that has produced more games from the shooter genre than any before it, and the annually released juggernaut doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Enter Call of Duty: Ghosts. The new game promises to be the biggest Call of Duty experience yet with an all new campaign that takes players to a futuristic, war-torn society where America has ceased being one of the main world powers, and more importantly, the players can take control of a new type of soldier that's furry and runs around on all fours. The game's multiplayer experience has also been overhauled more than ever before with more than 30 new weapons, a new soldier creation system, new controls, new game modes and tons of other new features. The pressure was definitely on Infinity Ward to produce a new Call of Duty experience unlike any other, and it seems they have delivered on all accounts.

Call of Duty: Ghosts to a near future where terrorists have seized control of a powerful space station known as the Orbital Defense Initiative also known as ODIN. The powerful weapon was turned on the United States and many other countries in the free world, turning much of the world as we know it today into destroyed rubble. The setting allows the game to set an eerie feeling as though much of the world is a ghost town, an empty shell of its former self, and the only way to get things back to the way it once was is by fighting back with your family by your side. Battles in the game will take players around the world battling against a new world power with some of the best trained soldiers around, and it creates the best fictional setting featured in a Call of Duty game for the entire series.

Players take control of a couple of different characters for the duration of the Call of Duty: Ghosts campaign, however, you will play mostly as Logan alongside your brother Hesh. With the United States crippled a short time after the takeover, its up to an elite group of soldiers and some of the last remaining resistance for the country known as the Ghosts to battle back against the new foe known as the Federation. The Ghosts team consists of Army Captain Elias Walker, voiced by Stephen Lang, as well as his sons Logan and David “Hesh” Walker and other elite soldiers united in the fight against a new enemy. Each member of the team brings their own reason for fighting, and each has a separate personality that helps create a believable and meaningful story to Call of Duty: Ghosts. Then there is the trained German Shepherd, Riley named after Simon "Ghost" Riley from the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, that brings an added dimension to the team and some of the most memorable scenes for the entire game.

The missions in the Call of Duty: Ghosts single player campaign are mostly linear, but like some of the games that preceded the new release, players can find a few easter eggs that provide some interesting moments and will give players more of a reason to replay the campaign multiple times in search of each secret. The campaign in total will last players over six hours and includes well over ten unique missions that takes players around the world and includes a variety of different environments and objectives from quietly infiltrating a snowy military base to busting up a skyscraper full of bad guys like your name is John McClane. The missions available in Call of Duty: Ghosts are varied enough to keep players plenty invested in the storyline, and the narrative is the best the series has seen since the original Modern Warfare. Players will experience a wide variety of environments that include traveling underwater to face off against Jaws, riding snowmobiles across icy terrains, defying gravity in space and much more making the single player campaign in Call of Duty: Ghosts the most interesting and immersive one yet. Most of the single-player campaign will be trying to stop Rorke (an ex-ghost) who now aids the Federation and is out to kill the Ghosts while destroying what is left of the world.

Call of Duty: Ghosts is built for the next generation of gaming in mind, and that begins with all new Call of Duty App. In a lot of ways, the new app allows Call of Duty: Ghosts fans to access Call of Duty: ELITE features on the go even when away from their home console. Players can use the app along with their Call of Duty: ELITE membership to access career stats across the entire game series and compare them with other players and friends in seconds. Players can also search for a and join clans, check previous match statistics or access special media accessible only to Call of Duty: ELITE members, but the new app is more than that in Call of Duty: Ghosts.

With the new Call of Duty App, players will have access to exclusive content that allows for second screen interactions to take place away from the game including customizing soldiers and editing loadouts pre-match. The app also allows Clan members to communicate and plan game sessions across multiple platforms. There are even in-game features available to the app featured in special game modes where players can earn additional experience points and other benefits while using the app during Clan Wars, and players can continue to manage their loadouts with every spawn during the game with a touch of a button, and the app communicates with the game instantly to make player's mobile devices an extension of the controller.

Call of Duty: Ghosts offers two new choices for players teaming up in online multiplayer. The first is the previously mentioned Clans feature that allows friends or players of similar skills to team up and enjoy the game together. While Clans aren't completely new to the Call of Duty experience, the game feature has been overhauled for Call of Duty: Ghosts to allow Clan members to play together and enjoy Clan exclusive unlocks including background for their player cards and play in Clan exclusive game modes to see which team is truly the best around. This also helps level the online multiplayer playing field by giving good teams a place to go and prove themselves against other teams rather than entering public matches against random teams of players that don't have the same communication and teamwork needed to succeed in Call of Duty multiplayer matches. Clans are also available cross platform, which allows players to continue connecting with their friends no matter which game console each player prefers.

Squads is the second new way to team with friends and enjoy Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer with a new design. The special new mode allows players to create matches against AI controlled enemies similar to the training modes available in the previous entires in the Call of Duty series, only the intelligence of the enemy players have been dramatically improved. The new opponents imitate the playstyles of online players that may camp, drop shot, quick scope or use other tactics to gain an advantage over players, and it really allows beginners to get better introduced to the online experience while still being allowed to customize difficulties to match their own skills.

There are a variety of different game modes available in Squads including the tactical Squad vs. Squad mode where one player creates a team that will face off another player and their team. The mode is a lot of fun between friend, and it offers a new way to get bragging rights beyond facing off in one on one sessions while still offering both players a chance to control how their team plays in a match. There are also cooperative game modes such as Wargame that allows up to six players to team together to take down AI controlled enemies with different match objectives or Safeguard that lets four players team together and survive increasingly difficult waves of enemies while completing various objectives. The new Squads mode is definitely an improvement over the previous training modes, and the mode isn't just a useful tool for learning to play the game but also just to have fun.

Many players will be excited to jump headfirst into the original multiplayer in Call of Duty: Ghosts when they first load up the game for the first time and understandably so. For Call of Duty: Ghosts, developer Infinity Ward has made arguably the biggest changes for any section of their new game including an all new soldier creation feature, over 30 new weapons, a new create a class system that is modeled after the Pick 10 system from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and added plenty of great new game modes for fans to enjoy. One of our best experiences with Call of Duty: Ghosts was with Extinction mode which has four players teaming up to fight and survive against gruesome alien-type creatures in a post-apocalyptic world. Extinction features objectives that involve destroying alien hives with a drill and keeping it safe while you are swarmed by incoming enemies. Players can choose between four classes which are Weapon Specialist, Tank, Engineer and Medic. By completing various objectives, gamers will unlock credits that can be used to purchase ammo, weapons and other items for battle. If you are a fan of Valve‘s survival-horror game Left 4 Dead then you will love Extinction mode in Call of Duty: Ghosts. Extinction mode was a fantastic experience and adds a great deal of replayability to the game for casual and hardcore gamers alike.

Rather than simply creating a class in Call of Duty: Ghosts, players will need to create a soldier. Instead of being a nameless soldier heading into battle that looks the same as teammates, players can customize clothes, faces, skin tones and other features of their soldiers, and Call of Duty: Ghosts allows players to control a female soldier in online multiplayer for the first time ever. Once a player has created a soldier, it's time to create the classes the player will use in online matches. Loadouts are fully customizable this time around with primary weapons, secondary weapons, grenades and equipment all costing points off the total allocated to a class, but all are fully optional as well. Players can add any unlocked attachments for their weapons for free this time around, though most primary weapons can still only have two attachments, while secondary weapons typically have only one attachment.

The classic perk system been changed for the new release as well. Perks allow soldiers to gain additional passive benefits such as silent movement, quicker reloads and more, and it's a system that has been a staple of the Call of Duty franchise for many years and imitated by nearly every game in the industry in some way over recent years. Players will be allocated eight points for the new perk system that includes 35 unique perks, and better perks will cost more points to equip rather than each costing the same amount as in previous releases. Players also have an option to remove secondary weapons and equipment in a loadout to have even more points to spend on perks. Combining the new create a class feature with create a soldier feature essentially means each player will be allowed to create the perfect soldier for any match type and play-style, and there will be a better variety of of soldiers on the field in a single game.

Killstreaks return in Call of Duty: Ghosts as well, but the feature hasn't been changed nearly as much from previous entries. Players still equip three different killstreaks that are awarded for getting kills without dying or performing various objectives in the game's different game modes. Although Call of Duty: Ghosts takes place in a more futuristic setting, the killstreaks are now more ground based, which fits with the storyline of the game, since many advanced technologies are not capable for many of the once world powers, but it also helps balance multiplayer by allowing the action to stay on the ground instead of looking for killstreaks to shoot down out of the sky. Some examples include ground-based UAV devices and new attack dog killstreaks and an ability to call in Riley from the single player campaign to run by the player's side during combat. As always, it's fun to experiment with the new killstreaks, but the excitement soon fades in favor of a player's preferred set of in-game performance rewards.

With 30 new weapons to unlock in the game and the most total weapons ever included in a Call of Duty game, players will be playing hours on end to get a new level and a new unlocked weapon. The new arsenal includes favorites from the series' past such as ballistic knives and Semtex grenades, but players will also find plenty of new weapons that include a brand new set of weapons known as the Marksman Rifles. These new guns are a lot of fun to try out in multiplayer matches and are comparable to the Ballista with Iron Sights attachment from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 or older rifles seen in earlier entries of the series or in Zombies mode. The rifles deal damage comparable to sniper rifles or single burst assault rifles but can equip a variety of different attachments including red dot scopes and suppressors. Of course, there is a good mix of assault rifles, sniper rifles, SMGs, LMGs, shotguns and pistols to give players that prefer different styles a nice selection of weapons, and though weapon balance is good for the most part, there are already some that seem to be the best in class as players would see in any Call of Duty game.

In addition to Clans and Squads, there are an abundance of new game modes for players to experience for the first time in Call of Duty: Ghosts. Some classic game modes return in the new release including Team Deathmatch, Domination and Kill Confirmed, while there are some tweaked game variants as well including the new Search and Rescue that is similar to Search and Destroy but with fallen soldiers dropping dog tags that can be recovered by teammates to allow respawns to make the mode more of a tug of war than ever before. Cranked is a completely new mode that forces players to get a fresh kill within 30 seconds of getting their first kill, or they explode once the timer has run out. Blitz is another new game mode that requires teams to rush the spawn of enemy players to score points, which is what most players already do anyhow, but both team spawns are up for grabs at the same time to make the game somewhat similar to a mode like Capture the Flag.

One other great new feature to online multiplayer in Call of Duty: Ghosts are dynamic maps. For the first time ever, the terrain and layout of maps can be changed during a match to alter tactics for both teams. If you think your base is well protected, an enemy player may find a destructible wall that can be blown away to provide a new entrance into your spawn, so it's important to not only learn the layout of maps but how they can change as well. Some of events triggered in the game are more impressive and can range from a gas station explosion in the new map Octane to an air-strike across the map in Strikezone and a collapsing building in the preorder map, Free Fall. Nearly every map in the game features some sort of special tweak that can change how players approach each map, and it not only makes each match more strategic, but it's simply really entertaining to blow up parts of the map just for the fun of it.

Call of Duty: Ghosts introduces some new controls for the series including an ability to look around corners without being totally exposed to enemy gunfire. The feature has been included in many shooters before including some Call of Duty releases on PC, so it's a feature that has been tested plenty and is implemented well in the new release while allowing many console gamers to experience it for the first time on Xbox and PlayStation systems. Characters in the game also have an ability to quickly vault over low lying debris and windows while running without having the need to stop and hit the jump button to continue moving. The new feature is subtly integrated, and yet it's difficult to ever go back to the old style of Call of Duty without this feature. Players also access to a new tactical move allowing the character to slide into prone while running, which is far more efficient to "dolphin" diving to prone in previous releases, since the player can continue shooting while performing the new action.

Along with improved controls comes an overall better presentation that includes vastly improved graphics that are most noticeable in the lighting featured in the game. Shadows now play a bigger factor in the aesthetics of a map, and the shadows caused by other players can often times be the difference in getting a kill or not. It's also entirely possible to have glares on the screen when in bright, outdoor areas, though many of the new lighting textures are easier to spot in the next generation versions of the game. Character models have also been improved for the new release across all platforms, and another subtle, yet important, new feature allows the player to see their character vault over items in the map to let them know they actually have leg!  Let's just say that Call of Duty: Ghosts is frankly a work of art. C'mon, look at these environments!

Infinity Ward has always had an advantage in improving the sounds featured in Call of Duty including the recent improvements to the sounds guns produce when being fired in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The improved sound quality trend continues with the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts and includes more than better sounding guns. While sound has been improved so that players with great audio setups can tell the difference between gunfire that is close to them and in which direction, other players can receive similar cues just by listening to the chatter between in-game characters during matches. It's fairly common to hear teammates' characters shout out enemy locations or key areas of the map that need immediate attention during objective based matches even when the players themselves may be silent or only busy cussing each other. The combination of enhanced graphics, improved controls and great sound design gives Call of Duty: Ghosts the best presentation value the series has seen yet.

Call of Duty: Ghosts is available in Hardened and Prestige Editions that both include exclusive player backgrounds, cards and patterns, the Call of Duty: Ghosts soundtrack, Free Fall multiplayer map, special steelbook packaging, paracord strap and the Call of Duty: Ghosts Season as well as a 1080p Tactical Camera with the Prestige edition. Of course, the Call of Duty: Ghosts Season Pass is also available for players that aren't able to snag these special editions and can be purchased for $49.99 to gain access to new map packs when they become available at no extra charge and additional Call of Duty: ELITE content. Fans will also be interested in the Next-Gen Upgrade that allows gamers to purchase the game for current generation consoles before upgrading to a new copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts on next generation consoles for only $9.99 while still retaining all experience points earned, levels gained, unlocked content and Season Pass privileges.

Fans who have anxiously been awaiting the return of Infinity Ward's Call of Duty will definitely not be disappointed with Call of Duty: Ghosts. The new release offers a plethora of new changes that makes the new release a must buy for first-person shooter fans and a no-brainer day one pick up for Call of Duty fans. Call of Duty: Ghosts is the best Call of Duty game yet while having enough appeal that it can be enjoyed by both hardcore and casual gamers alike. If you are new to the series, then there has never been a better time to jump into the action. For every improvement other shooters have made in a desperate attempt to be recognized in the same class as the Call of Duty series, the new release provides an answer to show Call of Duty: Ghosts is truly in a class of its own. Unleash the soldier within you in Call of Duty: Ghosts this holiday season!

Call of Duty: Ghosts is now available from all major retailers for the MSRP of $59.99 and can be purchased for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (read our review), Xbox 360, Wii U and PC. Call of Duty: Ghosts is rated M by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence & Strong Language. For more information on the game, check out the official Call of Duty: Ghosts website.  If you would like to know even more, then check out the full Call of Duty: Ghosts fact sheet right here!

Game Features:
  • Online Multiplayer 1-12
  • Upgrade to Next-Gen for $9.99
  • Call of Duty App Features
  • DLC Support
  • Trophy/Achievement Support

Game Information:
Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (reviewed), Wii U & PC
Release Date: November 5, 2013

Score: 10 out of 10

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