Title: Call of Duty: Ghosts
Format: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC
Developer: Infinity Ward
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
The grade: B-
What is it?
The 10th and most recent installment of Activision's popular "Call of Duty" franchise. "Call of Duty: Ghosts" is set 10 years after a devastating event in an alternate timeline. A mysterious group known only as "Ghosts," consisting of what remains of the United States' Special Operations forces, leads the fight against a newly emerged, technologically superior global power.
The James Bond of first-person shooters. Much like a James Bond film, gamers can always count on a "Call of Duty" title to take them to exotic ports of call. "Ghosts" offers some of the most interesting set pieces you'll see in this franchise. Gamers will get a chance to float around space "Gravity"-style, rappel down skyscrapers and drive helicopters and tanks. If you've seen the trailers for "Ghosts," you're also aware of the introduction of the dog Riley. He's a unique, if underused, new feature.
New multiplayer modes. If you've played past "Call of Duty" titles, battling online with "Ghosts" will feel very familiar, but there are some nice updates. The Create-A-Soldier system allows for more flexible loadouts and character customization. But what many multiplayer fans will find appealing are the new Squads and Extinction modes. Squads is a horde mode that gamers can play solo or with friends cooperatively or competitively. If you like "Call of Duty" but find the online multiplayer intimidating, you'll love Squads. Gamers can earn XP and rank up their characters in a friendlier environment. Extinction, a cooperative mode where players battle aliens, was serious fun. I got a kick out of its fast pace, scavenging and class leveling.
More of the same. Activision alternates between two development studios for its "Call of Duty" titles. So they can pump them out on a yearly basis. Last year Treyarch worked on "Black Ops II" and this year Infinity Ward tackled "Ghosts." But unlike Treyarch, Infinity Ward seemed happy making "Ghosts" a standard "Call of Duty" title. The plot of "Ghosts" lacks interesting characters and the emotional punch of its predecessors.
The multiplayer offering, while mostly enjoyable, also has issues. Most maps are too large and spawning is uneven. I'd often run around for good chunks of time on a sprawling map trying to find an enemy, only to be shot by someone who just spawned behind me.
If you're a dedicated fan of this franchise, "Call of Duty: Ghosts" will give you what you expect: a straightforward single player campaign and a fun multiplayer experience to run through with friends. But it won't give you anything more. "Ghosts" marks a step backward for the franchise.
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.