Call of Duty: Ghosts Hands-On Preview – Space, The Final Frontier
Written Thursday, September 26, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Call of Duty: Ghosts' single-player intro looks spectacular. Truly spectacular. Is it spectacular to play? We wouldn't know having not played it yet, but we'd hazard a guess and say it plays like every other Call of Duty title released post-Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, because despite the heavily modified engine and the beautiful visuals running at a slick 60-frames per second as always, Call of Duty: Ghosts is more Call of Duty. You already know this, but don't get us wrong. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Unless you don't like Call of Duty. Then it kinda is.
There's no disputing that Call of Duty provides blockbuster shooter entertainment year in year out, and Ghosts looks to be no different in that respect, with an early mission excerpt we're shown taking the action to the reaches of space floating just above Earth, where the whole catastrophe that destroys most of the major cities in the United States kicks off. Initially, you're cast as an astronaut named Baker, working in a space station with SPC Kyra Mosley on the ODIN (Orbital Defence Initiative) laser, an orbital weapon capable of nuclear-strength strikes with none of the ensuing fallout and radiation. Of course, the nefarious Federation are very interested in this weapon, and set about taking it over to serve their cause.
That's all we're going to tell you about what we saw of the single-player campaign, beyond the fact that the shit hits the fan in a big way, and the ensuing sequence that follows The Federation seizing ODIN is pure Call of Duty spectacle. Big, loud, frenetic and every bit the slice of pure Hollywood-style popcorn that you've come to expect from the series, complete with explosions and a lot of bullets flying every which way. In space. Everyone can hear you scream after all.
Call of Duty: Ghosts' storyline takes place in an all-new universe, with an all-new yarn centred around a single squad (the Ghosts), in which brothers Logan and Hesh are a part, ten years on from the opening events that have reduced the US to a former superpower, and caused a South American nation to rise up as a new superpower and threat, with The Federation sitting on the proverbial throne. It has the potential to be the most captivating Call of Duty narrative to date, and let's not forget Riley the dog.
Our single-player presentation done and dusted, we're then given more hands-on time with Call of Duty: Ghosts' multiplayer, at next-gen spec once again. As we've mentioned in past previews, it's the same immediate pick up and play multiplayer that's made the franchise a bit popular over the years, meaning it still plays impeccably well and is fairly hard to fault. It's Call of Duty with added knee sliding, on-the-run mantling with shooting from the hip, and a new context-sensitive lean mechanic if you fancy adopting a slower, slightly stealthier approach to the usual fast and frantic loop of spawn, die, spawn, die, spawn, die, spawn, die etc.
Not that we manage to snap out of that very loop, doing the spawn/die thing over and over across multiplayer matches on the Strikezone, Chasm, Whiteout and Octane maps, in Team Deathmatch, Cranked, Domination and Blitz modes. We've covered these all before, but we'll go over them again quickly anyway. Team Deathmatch... you all know what that is. We won't waste your time there. Cranked is fast-paced and over in minutes. Get a kill and a 30-second timer pops up, get killed and the timer ends, get a kill and the timer tops up. Once the 30-seconds expires, you blow up. We got killed before the 30-seconds ever had a chance to elapse.
Blitz has you running from your blue portal that you must defend, to the opposition's orange portal where you can score. Run into the portal and you'll be spirited away back to your base, where you can defend, or make another run at the opposing team's portal for another point. It's simple, quick and a ton of fun. Last but by no means least, Domination is like Battlefield's Conquest. Capture and hold the flags at the designated A, B and C waypoints and dominate the map. Job done. The new Stonehaven map we're shown looks gorgeous too (see image below), set within a rustic windswept field among a stony castle ruin surrounding a crashed space station; probably the same one from the single-player sequence we saw. Regrettably, we didn't get to play on this map because it wasn't in this current preview build. Boo.
That's multiplayer then. Typically robust, reliable, and always entertaining, even when you're getting your ass handed to you. Customisation plays a bigger role this time too, with various heads, headgear, uniforms, perks (including the new Maniac perk that enables you to play as a juggernaut armed with a combat knife and infinite sprint, but no health regeneration) and weapons (like the L115 sniper rifle) making for over 20,000 different combinations of soldier. Presumably that's 10,000 male, 10,000 female. There'll be a free app (for iOS, Android and Windows Phone) where you can fanny about with loadouts and such, and your CoD ID will be attached to all of this, enabling you to take your game anywhere, across any platform. Playing the Xbox 360 version and want to play at a friend's on his Xbox One? All of your progression, prestige and what not will be carried with you and your CoD ID. Neato.
Throw in the deep and involving Clan Wars phone meta game, which refreshes and restarts in two week cycles, and the app (developed by CoD Elite team, Beachhead) looks to provide a whole raft of additional value to Call of Duty: Ghosts. Using the app will give you stats, connectivity and also unlock exclusive headgear, items, tags and so on, so it's a worthwhile addition, with second screen functionality tied into the app too.
Then there's the new Squads mode, which promises to add additional replay value in Spec Ops' place. Squads enables you to pick six soldiers from the ten you can customise and store, and either play alongside AI allies against bots or team up with up to five other players against bots in modes like 'Safeguard', which is a bit like Survival in that it has you fighting waves of enemies. If interest is waning in Call of Duty, then Infinity Ward is doing everything it can to grab your attention by shoving more, more, more and a little bit more into Ghosts. There's no shortage of content, that's for sure.
Promising to deliver yet another chunk of action-packed single-player alongside what might just be the biggest multiplayer offering to date, Call of Duty: Ghosts seems to be an assured exercise in 'more is more'. And more there most certainly is. If you thought Black Ops II was stuffed with content, then Call of Duty: Ghosts will probably give you similar bang for your buck. The narrative looks compelling enough, and you know by now what to expect from multiplayer. Throw in Squads, Clan Wars, the app functionality and a slew of customisation on top of that, and Call of Duty: Ghosts should be another solid slice of CoD. 'Nuff said.
Call of Duty: Ghosts is out on November 5th for current-gen platforms, and on launch day for next-gen.