Call of Duty: Ghosts
follows the framework laid by the Treyarch-developed Black Ops
structure in that it largely follows the exploits of a single man. This year's contestant is Logan Walker, who, along with his brother Hesh and father Elias, finds himself caught off guard on the fateful day when the Federation, a league of South American nations, decides to subjugate North America. Once the prologue is finished, it's abundantly clear that their plan is a success. However, an elite paramilitary force known colloquially as the "Ghosts" is fighting the good fight through well-planned operations. The entire Walker family is made up of Ghosts before too long, and Logan finds himself trotting around the Americas while thinning out the Federation's ranks. But the only thing more dangerous than a Ghost is a Ghost that has been turned...
One of the campaign's biggest surprises (and greatest strengths) is its sense of restraint. Let's be frank about this: as a whole, Call of Duty is many things. It the antithesis of subtle to such a degree that no word in the English language is capable of quantifying it. All the cinematic excess and blatant destruction of Modern Warfare 3 bordered on pornographic. Ghosts is the counterpoint, the remedy. This is a more subdued, more focused Call of Duty than you're used to. And it's all the better for it. Is it believable? Hell no! But it feels more grown up and less, well, self-parodic.
So if you've played a Call of Duty game, you've played Ghosts. Nothing was ever broken in this series, so nothing is fixed. There are a few mechanical tweaks this time around, but by and large, this is the same silky smooth shooting action that it ever was. The different context is enough for most Call of Duty fans, and it gets the job done admirably. However, I can count on one hand the number of people I know who only play Call of Duty for the campaign.
So here we are, six years since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare changed the landscape of the modern multiplayer shooter scene. The progression, the unlocks, the perks, everything is back and as good as it ever was. A handful of new modes beefs the package up to provide a few new hooks for the fans, and some interesting new customization options are available for gamers who want to dig deep and make this new Call of Duty experience their own.
Cranked is a game mode clearly inspired by a certain Jason Statham movie, and it ably emulates the urgency and relentless momentum of that film. Here's the deal: you get a kill. A half-minute timer starts counting down. Once that timer reaches zero, you explode. However, if you continue to kill, you'll keep adding seconds to your lifeline. As a whole, Call of Duty has always emphasized lone wolf tactics over thoughtful, deliberate teamwork, and nowhere is that more apparent in this mode, which is fast, frantic, and sure to produce more than a few laughs in each round.
The demographic that Call of Duty appeals to the most is the hardcore sports fan who spends most of their gaming time with Call of Duty. Blitz is a love letter to that demographic, and it's a scream. I love modes like this, where the limitations force you to look at the game in a completely different light. Blitz is more about mobility and stealth than running and gunning. The objective? Run into enemy territory and make it into a special circle to score while keeping your enemies from doing the same thing. It's a unique twist on Capture The Flag that puts way more emphasis on the approach while cutting out the mad dash for home base.
I'll be the first to admit: the Zombies modes in the Treyarch Call of Duty games were more effective sleep aids than Ambien for me. My eyes always start rolling in the back of my head less than five minutes into each match. Infinity Ward's games tend to lean towards the more bite-sized Spec Ops missions, but not this one. Ghosts introduces Extinction mode. It's like Zombies, but it deals with an alien invasion instead. In my opinion, the aliens are far more fun to fight, though the concepts for these kinds of modes don't generally appeal to me. But it certainly will to others.