Published on November 21st, 2013 | by Don Parsons0
Call of Duty: Ghosts Multiplayer Review
Summary: Another Call of Duty, WOO.
Every year, Call of Duty is under fire for releasing another game that is strikingly similar to the last. Despite that, it continues to sell more and more copies and generally outsells every other title released that particular year. It’s a strange phenomenon, to say the least, but it’s the way this crazy industry works. Now, the latest release is upon us; bringing gamers a new set of multiplayer maps, a tweaked leveling system, a revamped co-op mode, and a fresh start to begin working through those prestige levels.
Upon loading up the multiplayer for the first time, I was greeted with having to create a soldier. This involved picking a basic loadout to designate my starting gear and then scrolling through a few long lists of locked aesthetic options for my soldier. Helmets, body gear, and things like that are all locked and became available after completing specific challenges. It was nice to see the option to be a female soldier.
The very first thing I do when I load these games up are to go through the loadout selection. Usually, this is locked behind a wall known as “Please Reach Level 4.” In Ghosts, I couldn’t do a whole lot, but I could swap out the main weapon between the two of my starting primary guns. This led me to the observation that things are much different in the land of Ghosts. No longer do I need to be Level 65 to unlock the final assault rifle. All primary guns, secondary guns, and grenades are simply locked with Squad Points.
Reminiscent of Call of Duty: Black Ops, Infinity Ward seemingly leveled the playing field in regards to weapons. After just a few matches, I had enough Squad Points to buy a new primary weapon. It’s empowering to know that everything is essentially at your fingertips. With the exception of perks, which I unlocked as I leveled up, I had my ideal loadout created within an hour of playing. That is a stark difference compared to previous Call of Duty games.
Finally digging into multiplayer, I noted the new game modes and sampled them first. Crank sounded awesome when it was announced, so seeing it immediately grabbed my attention. Crank plays like the a Call of Duty version of the film with the same namesake. When I got a kill, my speed doubled and a countdown began. This starts an instant reaction of frantically running around to find another opponent, because I knew once the clock reached zero, I’d keel over. Or explode, to be more precise.
Blitz, another new game mode, replaces Capture the Flag, in a roundabout way. Mostly because CTF is not in Ghosts, and secondly because Blitz positions portals in both teams bases and the goal is to reach said-portal. The first time I got to the portal, I was rather excited, only to find out about the 10 second delay between when players can drop through the portal. This prevented teams from ganging up on one another and dropping half of a team into the portal at once. No one likes to be spawn camped, and in this case, no one would like to be portal camped. Blitz is fun, and I enjoyed it more than I did CTF. It doesn’t require the amount of teamwork CTF requires, but like anything else, a well-oiled team can dominate a poorly put-together team.
Neither Infected or Hunted remained in my play rotation after a couple of games of each. Infected has a team of regularly-equipped soldiers against “zombies,” which were fast, tactical knife-equipped people. One person is randomly chosen to be an infected, which then starts a timer. The games I played never saw Survivors winning, but I only played a few games to realize I found the game mode shallow and just not fun. Hunted had potential, though, as everyone starts with a pistol and clamors to the randomly dropped supply crates to grab a random primary weapon. It’s a nice adaptation of what older FPS games did, but it simply wasn’t for me.
Ghosts keeps some of the standard modes, though, such as Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, and Domination, and modifies Search and Destroy to Search and Rescue. The difference in the latter is that it skillfully blends its predecessor with Kill Confirmed (a personal favorite). Now, when I died, I would drop a dog tag and have an opportunity for a teammate to snatch it up. This spawned me back at my teams starting location and allowed me to start playing again. Of course, I lost more close quarters showdowns than anything, so my dog tag would immediately get snatched up. Search and Rescue still leaves some shining moments on the table, because getting that final kill was a much more gratifying moment than most game modes, especially when I was the last person alive on my team.
Before I touch on the maps, there is a completely new addition to how things play out. Running from cover point to cover point has now become easier thanks to Infinity Ward adding in a slide mechanic. I found myself sliding around corners often. Holding the Circle button while running initiates the slide, and this became a habit after I adjusted to doing it. I like the slide, and it saved me quite a few times.
By far, my favorite map in Call of Duty: Ghosts is Strikezone. It’s a very small map, but plays well on every gamemode. Strikezone reminds me a lot of one of my favorite Call of Duty maps, Dome from World at War. Super-compact, it made for quick matches no matter what game mode was being played on it, even Domination, which I generally like to play on bigger maps. There’s less vertical play in this map than others, as the playing field is more sloped.
A good portion of the maps are spacious, which feel empty when playing game modes like Team Deathmatch and Kill Confirmed. That’s a shame because Kill Confirmed has been my favorite game mode since it’s introduction. Worse yet, there is no Ground War playlist, which ups the player count to 16. Maps like Overlord and Storm Front all have some great design elements, but without playing with an objective, you spend most of your time running around looking for someone to kill. Overlord, particularly, has four buildings situated around a central building and everytime I play on it, it’s peppered with snipers all around. Chasm, another large map, has a tunnel connecting two smaller areas. Even without an objective, it leads to a lot of showdowns at the choke point. It’s a brilliant design that has room for players of all types.
While the competitive multiplayer portion of things stays fundamentally the same, Infinity Ward does a brilliant job at reworking the zombie co-op mode made popular by Treyarch.Extinction replaces zombies with aliens, and more importantly, is easy enough to understand while trying to convey a sense of story. I only made it about seven rounds in, but going from alien pod to alien pod and defending a drill was far easier, and more fun, than what Treyarch attempted last year. Black Ops 2 was a jumbled mess, and without reading online what the hell I was supposed to do, there was no progress made. With Extinction I set up the drill and shot aliens. After the drill was done, I picked it up and moved on to the next pod.
There’s even a suite of loadouts and perks given to the player, something that made me enjoy it all the more. I rolled with the Engineer class, because it allowed me to repair the drill faster. After each round (which obviously get progressively harder), there was a skill point to assign to level up those perks. I haven’t enjoyed the co-op modes in Call of Duty like this since the original Zombie mode in World at War, so it was nice to finally enjoy that section of the game again. I’ll be more interested to see if Infinity Ward supports Extinction in its DLC offerings.
At times, usually after getting spanked in a series of matches online, I found Squads to be an ego boost. I love being competitive, don’t get me wrong. It’s a thirst I often have to play against people, but playing against bots can be equally fun. Squads allowed me to dominate with a crew of bots against a crew of bots. There was no kid there that put insane amounts of time to memorize the maps, or someone that happened to be a little more awake than I was so they fired first. Sadly, though, while I leveled up as I played, I didn’t work on completing challenges for things like special reticles or camos. Squads was what I went to for a break, not something I ended up playing all the time.
For players that enjoy Call of Duty, myself included, there is no reason not to take the leap and get Call of Duty: Ghosts. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Ghosts offers more Call of Duty, and makes some minor changes to try to keep things from being too stale.
Note: This review was written based on gameplay on the Playstation 3 console with material provided by the publisher. For more on our review policies, please read here.