Call of Duty: Ghosts (review)

Call of Duty: Ghosts. A review of the most-anticipated game of 2013. Here’s why it disappoints our game reviewer, CoD veteran Fegelein Puching Zhang.

aNewDomain.net — Call of Duty: Ghosts was one of the most-anticipated games of 2013. As such, I had high expectations for Activision’s new additon to this epic series. I was bitterly disappointed. Here’s why.

I’ll admit that I’m a Call of Duty fanboy. And as an adamant follower of the CoD series, I can tell you that this game falls short of the usual high standards of design that has made Call of Duty the gold standard of FPS gaming.

Image credit: Activision

Image credit: Activision

First off, lets start with the campaign. The campaign of CoD is the one aspect that prevents millions of followers from jumping on the battlefield bandwagon. Activision has always been known for writing Oscar-worthy campaign stories, peaking with the release of Black Ops II, which had the best story of all the series.

Initially I was joyous about the Ghosts campaign — the U.S. is being invaded by a foreign power and the player is fighting to save a shattered nation. Yes, I know. The concept of an American apocalypse is nothing new. We’ve seen it before with Fallen Nation and Homefront leading the charge with semi-good campaigns. But personally, I revel in this sort of thing. Finally players would be fighting with a disadvantage, giving a nice challenge for CoD veterans looking for a change from the dry, repetitive levels of elite stealth-ops in previous games.

I’ve always wanted an FPS-based game with the opportunity to play as the Vietcong, or as the Mujahideen in Afghanistan stealth-based missions, but with a fresh challenge to dive into. Because of this, Ghosts sounded like something I would really enjoy. I was hoping to play the game as a fighter of a scattered U.S. Special Forces unit that was struggling to survive against a numerically- and technologically-superior enemy.

But, no, there was none of that. The campaign only covers the war in America for the first three missions. WTF, Activision?

Instead, most of the game covers the player going from mission to mission — attacking the Federation in South America. The main antagonist in the game is a ghost defector named Gabriel Rorke, whom the player finds themselves trying to hunt down the whole game. But don’t expect to find a great background story. The U.S. isn’t some broken nation fighting for its survival. It’s the same high tech air support and obliterating artillery that was present in previous games. This game had so much potential that the whole situation is sad. The campaign was going to bring a fresh new addition to the awesome series we call Call of Duty, but instead it has the same repetitive premise of previous games. And that’s the tired premise of an overpowered allied force fighting hordes of a mostly worse-equipped enemy.

The game isn’t all bad news, however. I found the mechanics and graphics of the game to be stellar. In addition, Activision has introduced a Space Level to the playing field. That’s right, players can finally shoot baddies from outer space. It’s a nice gaming feature, especially since the forces of gravity are thrown out the window as bullets move exactly like they did on Earth. Nice touch.

I will admit that the game’s quality is saved by its multiplayer mode; Activision has cracked open a plethora of new features with player customization and a host of new weapons and classes. That’s a nice change from the Return of the Clones gameplay you see in other first-person shooters. Activision has joined the next level in online gaming where avatars are the norm. For many CoD veterans, this is a welcome change and a genius move on Activion’s part. Also: the ability to customize gender is a nice bonus.

In Ghosts, Activision has also revamped the perks feature adding more slots for players to upgrade themselves. In the past, I was slightly dissapointed when the company took away some of the vehicles that have been iconic in the multiplayer of Black Ops II, such as CLAWs.

However, Activision has compensated for that by adding new kill streak rewards, such as Wardogs (yes, Wardogs were the essence of annoyance in World at War for me), but they’re a nice touch in Ghosts considering the popularity of Riley the Wardog in the game’s debut. Finally, Activision has scrapped the idea of zombies for this game, instead replacing them with hordes of aliens. Although some people might cry out for the return of the iconic zombies, I find the idea of aliens nice and original. It’s right on par with the end of the Modern Warfare trilogy, where CoD moved away from having Russians as enemies.

Overall, I would give this game a six out of 10.

Speaking not just as a reviewer but as a Call of Duty veteran, this game fell way short of my expectations. I wanted a challenging, struggle-for-survival campaign. Instead, I was hit with a repetitive, unclear campaign with a disappointing ending. Ultimately, the multiplayer side of the game is revolutionary for Activision, with its quality almost comparable to that of Battlefield 4. But that’s a review for another time.

I still have faith that Activision will release a better Call of Duty game in 2014, but until then, for aNewDomain.net, this is Fegelein Puching Zhang signing off.

Based in Chicago, Fegelein Puching Zhang is our gaming scribe at aNewDomain.net.  Read more of his work here or contact Fegelein at puching@anewdomain.net.

About the author

Puching Zhang

Based in Chicago, Puching is gaming editor at aNewDomain and our sister pub, BreakingModern.com