Call of Duty: Ghosts - Initial Review and Reactions
TL; DR - Gimme the Skinny!
Ghosts is a good successor to the Modern Warfare franchise, and takes it's place nicely. A blend of some good things from past games (pick 10 style choices from BO2) and some new additions (Squads and integrated Clans modes). Some of the new game modes are fun and fresh, but there are still occasional problems that came from previous games too (I got spawn trap raped in a game of Blitz that was absolutely stupid, and then sent a message giving me crap that I left the game after getting killed 15 times in a row as SOON as I spawned in - NOT cool!).
There are also a few unexplained things in Squads, like what are the "Bonuses" that you earn from matches, and how is it that as you get better, you suddenly do worse against other squads?? I went 6-0 in my first set of matches, then went 4-8 in the next twelve. As I got better at playing, and learned the maps, suddenly the AI became unbeatable!
Clans are supposed to be managed via the Call of Duty app, but it has major compatibility problems with a host of Android devices, so has been pretty much useless. There is no web based version of the app, so until these bugs are worked out, Clans are for iOS users only, it seems. VERY not cool!
I liked the changes from MW3 to BO2, but, in spite of the initial issues - and how many games don't have launch month issues? - I am definitely highly impressed with Ghosts, and it is my new favourite Call of Duty game!
When was announced earlier this year, I was a little excited. I have become a fan of the Call of Duty series, and was looking forward to this new game. I have never become a star player, by any means, but I have fun, and get a little bit better each time. Call of Duty: Ghosts
This new game was to be set in a new storyline where North America (primarily the U.S., of course) has been attacked by a new threat from South America called "The Federation". As a special ops team known as Ghosts, your mission will be to infiltrate this enemy from the south and turn the tide of the war against them, bring the U.S. back to even footing.
It's an odd position for the U.S. to be placed, as the underdog fighting the juggernaut (isn't it usually the other way around?) and the missions that I have done in the campaign so far show that, but still show a united and powerful force that is able to stand up to, and at times, beat the enemy, putting them on the defensive!
However, most people come to COD for the multiplayer, and with the myriad new modes available, Call of Duty: Ghosts hits the ground running, and becomes that juggernaut that just can't be stopped!
And speaking of juggernaut, just wait until you learn about the Maniac Juggernaut killstreak reward in multiplayer. While this is not one of the major game changing streaks that some of the previous games have had, it is one of the most fun streaks I have ever received in a Call of Duty game.
I have progressively liked the last three games in the series, but this one is, by far my favourite! With the cool new multiplayer modes, Sqauds modes and Extinction, it has the most bang for buck of the recent Call of Duty games.
What's it all about?
If you haven't heard of Call of Duty at all, this is a game that started as a World War II First Person Shooter, taking you through a number of missions as a soldier on the front lines. Further episodes in the series have taken that further, leading into Modern Warfare (a trilogy of Call of Duty Games) and Black Ops (a two-part Call of Duty franchise - at least, so far). These use modern and futuristic weapons and equipment and again pit you against an enemy.
The basics for the single player game (what I started with and loved the most, at first) are to follow a stroyline from the perspective of a couple of characters. You interact with a set cast, and follow a progression to complete the story. Some of the more recent games have had alternative endings, and this has added to the storytelling component.
Call of Duty: Ghosts takes place in the near future in a time where a conglomeration of South American oil producing countries called the Federation has attacked the U.S.A., and the U.S. Armed Forces are now on the defensive, using guerilla and special forces tactics to take on the enemy. I won't go too far into the detail of the story (I also haven't yet completed the campaign, so cannot fully review it), but you take on the role of Logan Walker, working with your brother, David a.k.a. Hesh, and your father, Elias. You occasionally work with your military dog, Riley (who's name is likely a tribute to Simon "Ghost" Riley from Modern Warfare 2) and eventually will meet the group of soldiers known as Ghosts.
The campaign starts off in the U.S., and eventually takes you to South America to take on the Federation on their doorstep. I won't go into more than that for now, but you get to pilot helicopters and drive tanks, I have learned, in some of the missions. This does not carry over to the multiplayer component, so it doesn't come across as a Battlefield competitor, so much. But as in most of the previous games, the campaign follows a fairly set path, though there are a couple of side paths you can take as well, at times.
Some gameplay by Legend Of Thunder
The most popular mode in the Call of Duty series has been it's multiplayer component, which puts you and up to 5 others (last gen; there are up to 9 per side in the next gen versions) against a team of 6. There are a number of the classic modes here, such as Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Kill Confirmed (pick up dog tags to score points). A number of new modes have been added to Ghosts, including Cranked (you get unlimited run and faster speed and must make a kill in 30 seconds, or you explode!) and Blitz (like capture the flag, but you have to jump onto the enemy's blitz spot to score, at which time you are teleported back to your own spawn side). I have tried these, and they are mostly fun, but I had a few unfortunate issues with these
While the basic mechanic of the game is to find an enemy and shoot them, you earn "Killstreak" rewards after so many consecutive kills for Assault and Specialist, or total kills with the Support Class. None of them are truly game-changers, but can certainly add to your kills or add to your defense. Previous games had very deadly streaks that would make or break your team, but these are more "buffs" for you, than anything else. Sometimes they can add up to your total kill feed, but most of the time they simply add a little bit to your ability to stay alive.
Many people are not happy with this change, but I always found - as an "average" player, not a master by any stretch - that someone else getting a killstreak would then add to the frustration I would have of even getting more than one kill before dying. If I managed to get into my streaks, I would then have that advantage of doing very well, but someone else getting a streak stopped me cold, especially with things like missiles, or the swarm from Black Ops II - I HATED that one! With Ghosts, I don't feel overwhelmed by killstreaks coming in, and so feel more evenly matched to my opponents than I had in previous games.
Some of the streaks you can get are a SAT COM (like UAV, but you place it on the ground), a Riley dog to watch your back, Gryphon quad-rotor vehicle that you control and that shoots explosives, Vulture twin-rotor drone that protects you simliarly to the AH-6 in previous games, Battle Hind (a helicopter that has machine guns and occasionally drops bombs), and one of my favourites (but I've only gotten it once, so far) - the Maniac Juggernaut. The Maniac Juggernaut give you juggernaut armour that allows you to take a great deal of damage, but also allows you to run very fast with unlimited run, and a knife to attack with (no gun). It's very frustrating to fight against, but MASSIVE fun to get and use. It's a high streak, though, so you may not get it often.
Squads is the newest AI mode that replaces the Special Ops modes in previous Modern Warfare games. In this, you take a squad of soldiers, specify their weapons and perks, and pit them against other squads in a number of different modes. You can play with 5 AI players on your squad against all AI controlled players of some random - but somewhat equivalently skilled - player's squad, or have your friends take on some of your squad members, or you can play with you and 5 members of your squad against a matched opponent and their squad, online.
When you are offline, the squad that you have built can be challenged by other online opponents and earn you "bonus" time in which you can get extra experience when playing multiplayer. Unfortunately, even though you do not contribute to the success or failure of your team, the win - loss ratio of your squad is counted. Beating another squad online isn't terribly hard, but the AI controlled opponents are very good, able to drop shot you, jump and shoot, or other play-styles that real players use n multiplayer matches. This increases the challenge level of playing against other squads, so it isn't so much an "easy-mode" as some might think.
Squad Assault - In this mode, you and your squad of 5 characters take on an AI controlled squad that someone else has created. It uses a variety of multiplayer modes including Team Deathmatch, Domination, etc., and you earn bonus XP time when your team is challenged. If you reach the "max XP" for a match (1500, I believe) you get a randomly assigned killstreak reward, delivered via care package. When setting up your squad, you can choose the game mode and map that others will challenge you on.
Squad vs. Squad - You and your squad take on another online player and their squad in a variety of game modes.
Wargame - You and your 5 chosen squad mates take on a full AI controlled squad in any game mode available on any map.
Safeguard - This is like the previous Survival modes in which increasingly difficult and numerous enemies take you on. There are occasional random drops around the map that can be weapons or killstreaks to help you survive. You start with a squad mate that you can call in at any time who can assist you in defeating the enemies. This mode is also available to play online with friends or random people, with up to four of you taking on 20 waves of enemies in Safeguard, 40 waves in Safeguard Extended, or "as-many-waves-as-it-takes-to-kill-you" in Safeguard Infinite
Aliens are the new Zombies!
Extinction is the last mode available in CoD:Ghosts. In this mode (which you can play solo, or with up to three other players) you are tasked with using a drill to destroy a number of hives across a map while defending the drill against bug-like aliens. You take on a role of Weapon Specialist (Extra Damage, ammo and specialized defensive weapons), Tank (extra health and damage), Engineer (armour for the drill and bonus cash), or Medic (provides extra health and quicker revives).
As you drill at each of the hive sites, you are attacked by a number of aliens who are trying to stop the drill. The aliens get progressively harder, and more specialized aliens join the fight such as the Scorpion (uses it's tail to shoot acid). At certain points, a helicopter comes to help fight against one of the hives, and you have to defend yourself and the helicopter against the attacking aliens.
Around the map are various traps that you can use to defend against the aliens, weapons that you can purchase for money (which you collect by successfully drilling and killing aliens), and randomly placed caches which provide money, upgrades for your weapons, or specialty items like the Hypnoknife (hit an alien with it, and they will fight with you against the enemy hordes).
Where Black Ops and Black Ops 2 had zombies modes, Ghosts has Extinction. Some people have compared the two, but the reality is, they are very different from each other. Zombies are stupid and walk in the quickest straight line towards you, and are easy to kite and kill if you find a good place to stay and fight them. The aliens of Extinction, however, are much more difficult to fight, as they jump around and move erratically in no particular pattern. This makes it much more challenging, in my opinion, and adds a greater element of fun to the mode.
What Peeves me about Ghosts?
Some of the new modes in Ghosts are great fun, but I have run into a couple of things that have depleted the fun level to near rage-quit levels.
Blitz is great fun, but the spawn locations are limited, so with a team that decides they simply want to get massive numbers of kills without necessarily getting high points from hitting the objective, they can sit and spawn trap the opposing team. In one match on Freight, I spawned in about 12 times and was insta-killed by enemies sitting and just waiting for someone to pop in on one of those three locations you can emerge from. This was BEYOND frustrating, but there is no way to avoid it, in this case. You can try to run, but more often than not, you will just run a few feet and die anyway. I did manage to get away once and kill the guy who had been killing me, but after getting killed again and then spawning into the same death trap over and over again, I gave up and quit out.
Lag is another issue that I had thought would be fixed in this game, once I had heard that there would be dedicated servers for multiplayer. It turns out that the servers have not yet been implemented, so it relies, still, on stable peer-to-peer connections. Stable is not always the case, however, so there are instances of major rubber-banding, or dying when you are around a corner - don'tcha just LOVE those bullets that curve (like the movie Wanted)??? No, actually I do NOT!
Finally, I have wanted to either join or start my own clan, but it turns out that this can only be done via the Call of Duty app for iOS and Android. While I have an Android device, apparently it is incompatible with the app, and I have found many complaints of this at this time. This is a major limitation on the game as you must have a compatible device to start or even use a clan, so for those who do not have a compatible device, you are totally out of luck! There is no web page or in-game means of performing Clan actions (other than getting into a clan match if you're already in a clan), so it severely limits the usefulness of the clan modes at this time. Hopefully this changes, soon.
Ghosts has some awesome new modes that make it a whole lot of fun, but there are a few setbacks that have kept this from being a full 5/5 stars game. While it is hoped that the issues will be resolved in a future patch or update to the Call of Duty app, at this time, the issues are just too numerous and frustrating to give it full marks. I enjoy it immensely, and will continue to do so for a long time, I am sure!
What do you think? Something you like? Something you hate? Something you want to show off to the world? Hit me up in the comments and let me know what your thoughts on the game.
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