Let me open by saying that I love the Call of Duty franchise, which is why I am writing this review, because I hope, that deep down, something changes within the series to correct the slow death that it is currently being dealt. I like many other players had been looking forward to playing yet another iteration of this beloved franchise, but now I am left with nothing but disappointment and the feeling that I was robbed by Activision by purchasing what I am calling a Generic Military Shooter.
I want to begin this review with what Call of Duty IS as a definition. Call of Duty is the flagship software of Activision, it's one of the companies biggest franchises, and is considered a AAA title when it is released. As such, consumers expect to receive a AAA title when it purchased, Call of Duty Ghosts does not live up to that expectation in any way. I am not talking about the lack of innovation (I expect a certain level of familiarity when I play a COD game) I expect to get pwned, I expect to be corner camped, I expect to be quick scoped, in other words I expect all of the shenanigans that are associated with this franchise that most people complain about, so my gripes with this game have absolutely nothing to do with the average complaints of this game. Call Of Duty was built upon smaller, intense maps, with fast gunplay and rage inducing moments, that is the franchise that I have come to know and love, and this game just doesn't bring it to the table.
For starters, multiplayer is boring. I have no other words for it. Due to the increased map size it is nearly impossible to engage in fast action gun play. There are a couple of maps that do work at this level, but the majority of them are massive. Finding another player is sometimes impossible, and oftentimes when you do find another player its because they shot you in the back as you passed them because there are too many routes on the map, too many places to hide, and too many angles to be shot from. This is extremely frustrating. The beauty of smaller maps is that you generally know where your opponent was going to be, you knew how combat was going to flow, and then you and your team could develop strategies to obtain whatever your given objective was, it was actually competitive. When you give players a massive map to camp on, with 50 routes to a given objective there is absolutely no way to organize a realistic strategy for victory. On the same topic, to me these maps are just bland, there is nothing memorable about any of them, as they are all pretty forgettable. I know everyone has their favorite maps to play on from previous titles, can you honestly name one from Ghosts that is just so amazing that you get excited when it rotates up? It's as if they wanted everything to be as realistic as possible, thereby making the maps boring and bland with way too many routes to an objective. The problem is, it destroys the historical precedent of the previous titles and sucks the joy out of playing it.
Secondly, the progression system is terrible, and difficult to understand. In previous games when you leveled up, you actually felt rewarded for the accomplishments with new unlocks, numbers and tags flying across your screen, etc, point being there was some modicum of fanfare about accomplishing your goals. It was one of the things I loved about the franchise, you had to earn your gear and you had to earn your rank. I loved being able to rank up my guns and unlock new attachments, it added depth to the leveling system and provided a "carrot/stick" dynamic that just kept you playing. You wanted to level up, you wanted to perform well in games, and you wanted to unlock that next gun. Treyarch got that right with the black ops series, it's one of the things that kept me hooked to that game. Ghosts is entirely different, and not in a good way. With the squad points system you can unlocks the weapons in any order you want, no waiting to level up to do so, so literally you unlock the best gun in the class, buy the best attachments for your play style, and call it a day. It removes the challenge of ranking up and unlocking new items, and it is boring. When I level up, I have no idea what benefit has been provided for me, nor is it explained how more squad points are earned, which I assume is tied to leveling.
And on the topic of map size and leveling, the grind to rank up to acquire more points to unlock more gear is painfully slow, most of this is due to the map size as it is hard to complete objectives when you can't even find the opponents, and none of the game types really lend themselves to fast leveling. Again, this contributes to the overall blandness of the game as It feels like I'm not even progressing (although in all honesty I don't understand what I'm progressing for after I unlock exactly what I want for my solider). I don't understand how anyone is going to have the time to unlock every soldier and loadout option... or why they would even want to.
I have played through every available game mode, and so far I have enjoyed Blitz which is a new take on Capture the Flag, but even this game mode is broken. I don't know how many people have realized this, but the way it keeps score is screwed up. Basically whoever wins the first round cannot lose the game, they either win or tie regardless of how many points the second team scores in the second round. I don't know if this was intended, but that sucks the joy out of making a comeback, or playing the game mode altogether. I'm not going to go into the problems of the other game modes as it seems a good majority of the community that is vocal about the issue have made their point already, but again, it's all boring and bland.
At the end of the day this game just feels like a generic military shooter. The sad fact is that they could have slapped "Medal of Honor" or "Super Soldier WAR" on the cover and no one would have been the wiser that it's a Call of Duty game, the whole package just feels mediocre, which coming from a AAA franchise is why I think most of us feel betrayed by this game.
I will be honest in saying I enjoyed Extinction mode, it seems like it could be fun if it's built upon, but at this point that's the only redeeming point of the game and it is definitely not worth the price of admission.
Normally at this point I am pretty absorbed in playing the game, but truth be told on launch night after only playing a couple of hours I was ready to be done with it, not because I was getting quickscoped or I was raging hard at the game, it was because I was bored with it. I was having much more fun playing Grand Theft Auto... which has now replaced COD:Ghosts in the disk tray of my Xbox for the forseeable future.