Maps and Modes
Rounding out the important areas of multiplayer are the available modes, which, you guessed it, tweak things just enough to be different from last year without doing anything really exciting. Returning favorites are back such as Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Search and Destroy, with Cranked and Search and Rescue being new modes with only minor twists (Cranked makes you get a kill every 30 seconds or die, and Search and Rescue is just Search and Destroy only you can revive teammates by collecting their dog tags when they bite the dust). My favorite game mode though, even more so than classic Team Deathmatch, has been Hunted. Everyone on each team starts with a pistol. Random care packages are dropped that players can get a random weapon from. Once five people re-supply from that crate it disappears and a new one is dropped somewhere else shortly. Itís a nice mix of deathmatch, as it still takes kills to win, and objective modes, as each team invariably ends up trying to set up ambush points around the packages to jump ill-equipped enemies. Itís fast, tactical, and, most importantly, seems to do the best job of getting strangers to at least somewhat work as a team. I was a bit sad to see that there were no ďspecialistĒ modes like Black Opsí wager matches to let me embrace the sillier side of the game. In short, while the modes are fine, they just donít do enough different or exciting to show much real evolution for the franchise.
There are also a few co-op options for those that are interested, but Iím not going to spend a whole like of time talking about them as I just wasnít compelled to spend a lot of time with them. Extinction mode is Infinity Wardís answer to Treyarchís famous Zombies where the undead are replaced by aliens, but its relative repetitiveness and small scale seem like a bore compared to the monstrous behemoth that Zombies has become. Itís fun for a round or two if youíre playing with friends, but with only one relatively uninspired map and ďdestroy the pod they come fromĒ the only real objective, I just donít see it holding a crowd for long. The other, potentially handy mode is basically a bots match called Squads mode. Remember back when I was walking about unlocking and building multiple different squad members in multiplayer? This is where you can use them to fill your game. You can either battle it out in a traditional multiplayer mode with other people and your bots, or engage in a sort of Horde mode fighting off waves of baddies. Itís not really my cup of tea, but itíd be a great way for those new to the series to acquaint themselves with the basic mechanics and flow of the game without getting slaughtered by the vicious online community.
It Could have Been a Contender
If you play Call of Duty: Ghosts in a complete vacuum, without taking into account past titles in the franchise, expectations, or other games in the genre, itís a good game. For as many bad things as I said about it in the review, itís still got the solid underlying foundation that the franchise is built on, and Iím sure everyone can find a level of fun. The problem is that the game doesnít exist well in a vacuum. Iím okay with franchises that donít take huge leaps forward from release to release if what theyíre doing works and the fans are happy. If it ainít broke, don't fix it, right? The issue is that while there are a few additions, Call of Duty: Ghosts actually takes steps backwards, nullifying advancements of its predecessors. Itís the gameís potential and the knowledge of what could have been that stings the most here. In an industry with dozens of titles vying for the top spot in their genre, stagnation is a death sentence, and I fear that without a change on par with the Modern Warfare revolution that rose the series to where it is, the spirit of Call of Duty is destined to soon become no more than a ghost.
Gameplay is still as slick and responsive as itís ever been, there are some legitimately cool campaign moments, and player customization is deeper than ever.
Missing multiplayer and campaign features make it feel like a step back in some ways, the campaign lacks a memorable story or characters, and coop modes are less impressive than they have been in the past.