This is a review of the single player portion of CoD:Ghosts. I feel the need to mention this only because you’ll always get some gaping arsehole reading the 0/10 score and exclaiming “but the multiplayer’s where its at! NOBODY plays CoD for the single player!”. Oh, really? Well then first off, fuck yourself, and secondly, explain the popularity of the MW1 campaign if nobody played it? eh? Arsehole.
Whoops, i gave the score away already.
Call of Duty then eh. CoD is a series that’s easy to hate on. It’s easy to hate because it’s the biggest franchise in gaming, and also, one of the most loathsome. It’s the X-Factor of gaming. An annual, mass marketed, built from the ground up to appeal to brainless plebs, gun manufacturer sponsored flag waving exercise in foreigner killing.
It’s easy to hate something that gains the level of popularity CoD has, but it’s harder to appreciate it. To not willingly rip it several new assholes simply because of it’s heritage. Which is why i went into the single player of Ghosts with an open mind, after the single player of Black Op’s turned out to be actually okay, and Black Ops 2 was even more surprisingly, tolerable.
I should have just assumed “It’s dogshit”, and written a review that was nothing but the word “Dogshit” copied and pasted 500 times.
The story of Ghosts was, allegedly, written by the guy who wrote Traffic & Syriana. I say allegedly because it would be pretty easy to assume that the story wasn’t actually written by anyone, but was in fact just a few hundred words & phrases like “Terrorist” “Mexican” “Dog” “Outer Space” “Immigrants” & “Freedom isn’t Free”, all strung together by a word processor.
It’s honestly hard to believe anyone sat down and wrote this trash without soiling themselves with laughter every few minutes once they realized they were actually being paid for the effort. In a similar scenario, if someone offered to pay me for the luxury of writing this review, i’d take their money and then stop writing somewhere around ohhh, here, before going to spend all my cash on crack cocaine and Lego.
The Call of Duty universe is a complicated one, mainly because each one bears only a passing resemblance to the one that preceded it. Or maybe it’s just because the stories are largely so forgettable, that by the time the next instalment rolls around, you’ve forgotten what the fuck happened in the previous one. The last outing, Black Ops 2, ended with America in flames after attacks by….someone. Possibly Mexicans. Definitely non-whites, anyway.
So Ghosts opens with America, business as usual, and the traditional, wholesome, all-American scene of a Father & 2 sons sitting around a campfire, sharing stories about the wholesome, all-American pastime of butchering 500 or so foreign scum. After roughly 20 seconds of story build-up, those god damn Mexicans interrupt this touching moment by dropping some shit from outer space on top of their heads. In what’s to be a recurring theme of Ghosts, Father and Sons miraculously escape this calamity by running, and shouting orders to run at each other. I actually lost track of all the ridiculous scenarios the Ghosts somehow manage to escape unscathed from, but heres a short list of what i can remember:
-Outer Space missile drops
-Getting Shot, repeatedly (even in cutscenes which is generally the only time a gunshot is ever fatal in videogames)
-Being swept away be a burst dam
All of that might sound like a rollicking good Rollercoaster ride. And CoD is often equated to a Rollercoaster ride, but Rollercoasters tend to have many ups, downs, loop de loops, hell some even have even tension and anticipation. Ghosts is like a Rollercoaster that goes in a flat, straight line, at 100 miles per hour, and the person sitting next to you is an overweight sweaty redneck constantly screaming Racial slurs at you.
Nothing in Ghosts is subtle. I’m convinced the writers dictionaries don’t even contain the word subtle. Hell i’m convinced the writers didn’t even have dictionaries. Just copies of Tom Clancy novels and the Daily Mail.
Every setpiece is over the top. It’s over the top, down the other side, and arranging a protest march against illegal immigrants. From massacring Mexicans in outer space, to blowing up submarines using Sharks strapped with C4 (this may be an exaggeration), it’s the usual CoD bombast. The only real problem is, you’ve seen it all before. Alot of the setpieces are either ripped off directly from movies, or other videogames.
Surprisingly, i haven’t seen the latest Batman movie, because i stopped caring about Batman around the time i found my first pubic hair, but im told Ghosts rips off a part where Bane escapes from a falling plane by zip lining onto another non-crashing plane. While Bat-fans were up in arms over this blatant plagiarism, i was left thinking “this is retarded”. Another scene is lifted directly from Moonraker, a film i haven’t seen since i was 12, so dont really care all that much. But more egregiously, several scenes are ripped off from older, better, games.
The Ghosts rappel head first down the front of a skyscraper and indulge in some upside down Mexican killing, in a scene startlingly similar to the head first rappelling and assassination scene from 2010’s rather excellent Bulletstorm. There’s a mission that begins in the belly of an Abrams tank, with you as the gunner opening the hatch to reveal a desert landscape, plumes of smoke in the distance, and a column of Tanks all heading off to kill some foreigners, which is an almost scene for scene recreation of a level from Battlefield 3. And not content with ripping off other games, Ghosts actually rips off other CoD games by stealing entire scenes from Modern Warfare 2 & 3. I get that someone in Infinity Ward thinks that blowing up a submarine by scuba diving underneath it and planting a bomb is about as exciting as getting a phonecall from an ex-girlfriend you use for violent sex, but we already did it in Modern Warfare 3. And yeah, assaulting an Oil Rig and blowing it up is great fun, but we did it in Modern warfare fucking 2. If Modern Warfare 4 or whatever they call it has us defending a fast food restaurant from terrorists i may just lose my fucking mind.
So we’ve established that the games story is nonsensical gibberish and the setpieces are nothing more than the last 5 years worth of shootbangers force fed through a woodchipper and haphazardly duct taped back together. What does it actually play like? The answer is, shit.
Infinity Wards big book of exciting gameplay innovation contains one chapter. And that one chapter is actually just one sentence. And that sentence is this:
THE PLAYER SHOULD ONLY EVER BE 1 BUTTON PRESS AWAY FROM A BARELY INTERACTIVE SCRIPTED MOMENT
I swear to Christ, if i ever have to press F to defuse a bomb, stab someone in the eye, cut myself out of a burning plane, or fucking bark, ever again, i will press F to fucking kill myself. CoD thinks that pressing one button and having your on screen avatar perform some heroic feat is all us braying idiots want from our shootman gaymez. you press F to try to save your captain from dying by getting swept away by the burst dam. You press F to let him go. You press F to hack a computer. You press F to cut the cords of a parachute when you get stuck in a tree. You actually press F to bark as a dog. It’s like Infinity Ward have no idea how else to design a piece of interactive entertainment. Its the like pretending you have control over the outcome of a movie by occasionally pressing the pause button. One painfully annoying section had me fleeing from yet another exciting explosion, while my AI partner ran ahead shouting such useful hints as “RUN!”, “KEEP RUNNING!”, “RUN FASTER!”, “MOVE!” and “USE YOUR LEGS TO CREATE RAPID FORWARD MOMENTUM”.
Ghosts other big innovation is DOG. You have a DOG, and you care about DOG because reasons. You occasionally play as DOG which plays exactly like the regular game only now you can bark and instead of shooting guns you shoot bites with your dog mouth. You play as DOG on maybe 2 5 minute long occasions, and that’s it. That’s Ghosts big, next-gen fucking breakthrough. Whoop de fucking shit.
Ghosts is the work of a studio that is utterly creatively bankrupt. A campaign that this much of a re-hash might be explainable if the multiplayer was an amazing new experience (it isn’t) and if Infinity Ward had been solely responsible for developing both SP & MP (they weren’t). The fact that it actually took three studios (IW, Neversoft & Raven) to develop this gigantic shitpile is unforgivable, especially considering Ravens pedigree with FPS’es. There’s nothing remotely interesting or new in Ghosts, and for a next gen title its surprisingly bland looking. There’s some nice modelling and texture work on display but you never get to look at it. I stopped to admire a fountain with an Angel atop during the introduction and was promptly killed for “not moving fast enough” or “not living life to the max” or something.
As far as FPSes go, this is probably the worst iv’e played this year, simply because it has practically zero redeeming features. I hated Bioshock Infinite but couldn’t disagree that its artistry was gorgeous. Battlefield 4’s campaign was a bland uninspired FPS, but at least it gave me some freedom. Ghosts has nothing going for it, on any level that’s important to a videogame. Not in gameplay terms, not in graphical terms, hell, even the audio is boring, with guns that sound more like heavy raindrops on a tarp than a lead dispensing death-stick.