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Call of Duty: Ghosts

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 12 (Online)
Genre: Action/ First Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

I don't mean to come across as a bitter, scorned individual, but for me, Nintendo's Wii was the worst home console since the Atari Jaguar. Between its hilarious technical incompetence, its overabundance of shovelware, and (most notably) quite possibly the least intuitive controllers since the Philips CD-I, I was not a fan. At long last, a Nintendo console has finally received a Call of Duty game that can be compared to its counterparts. Unfortunately, it still compares poorly alongside the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC versions, and with the next generation of hardware mere weeks away, this one will inevitably go down as "the inferior one."

Having played all of the Call of Duty games on the original Wii, I can vouch for the fact that Call of Duty: Ghosts looks better than all of them. Of course, Call of Duty: Finest Hour on PlayStation 2 probably looked better, too. However, this Wii U version is unable to shake free of the flat textures and poor anti-aliasing that plagued its older brother. Of course, it's not all terrible; the sense of spectacle makes the transition without any real problems, and the animation work remains excellent -- from your squadmates to your canine companion, Riley.

The Wii U version of Call of Duty: Ghosts may suffer in the visual department, but there are no such problems with the sound. While the script is all business and zero personality, the voice acting brings you as close as it can to helping you establish a connection with your faceless, voiceless character and his brothers in arms. While it's certainly not bad, the soundtrack is a bit of a missed opportunity. Late in the prologue, a chilling two-tone motif paints a perfect portrait of devastation, loss, and hopelessness... but is never heard again over the course of the game's six-hour campaign. As far as the rest of it goes, it's classic Call of Duty; one hopes that the individuals fighting the good fight have insurance that covers cochlear implants...


With the Modern Warfare saga tied up neatly with absolutely no loose ends, Call of Duty: Ghosts is Infinity Ward's newest trilogy in the most successful entertainment franchise in human history. (No, it hasn't been confirmed yet, but come on. You know I'm right.) They follow up their tale of Russian extremists and genocide with a tale that is more mature and capable of subtlety. All of it is outlandish, but the writers treat the subject matter as if it's completely possible.

Our dependence on foreign oil has caught up to us. The deserts housing these resources have been obliterated. South America pulls together to form the Federation, and immediately plots to subjugate North America. They do so via a series of orbital strikes that reduces a number of major U.S. cities to no man's land. All seems lost, but an impossibly small group of Tier 1 operators straight out of legend pulls together to put them down. You play as Logan Walker, the newest recruit in their ranks. As in other Call of Duty games, you go globetrotting, crippling the Fed's supply line and killing hundreds of enemy soldiers while doing so. And it's great fun, as always.

Call of Duty's classic template for twitch-based multiplayer shooting remains intact, though it comes with a few new features. For starters, you have the option to create your own soldiers and squads using loadouts featuring weapons and perks that are unlocked with experience earned through kills and assists. For the first time in franchise history, you can play as a female character, so there's that, too.

Standout new modes include Blitz and Cranked. Blitz is a reverse-engineered form of Capture The Flag that has members of each team sprinting madly towards the enemy base. There's nothing to take or destroy. You just need to get there in order to score. Cranked is an interesting mode that is powered purely by desperation. When you earn a kill, a timer starts counting down. Once the timer reaches zero, you explode. However, if you kill enemies, you can add time.

Extinction takes the Zombies modes from more recent Treyarch games and replaces the lurching undead with a legion of XCOM-style aliens. Cooperative combat arenas certainly aren't for everyone, and if you're one of those, you probably won't spend much time with Extinction. But it's certainly better than Zombies.


Call of Duty will probably never change the way it approaches difficulty; the presets it currently works with are perfect the way they are. My feelings towards Veteran mode aside, Call of Duty: Ghosts is a fairly-designed shooter experience. Enemies do tend to pay much more attention to you than to others, but it's less obvious in this game, considering the fact that you're usually operating as part of a very small team. Default aim assists make the game more easy than it should be, but if you take the odds of these situations in a realistic context, it's probably ultimately for the better.

Going online always puts you at the mercy of up to eleven strangers, all of varying skill levels. You can't expect consistency here, and you shouldn't, either. However, those who design smart loadouts and know how to efficiently use them will find themselves at the top of the scoreboards more often than not.

Game Mechanics:

One of the earliest announcements regarding Call of Duty: Ghosts was the inclusion of a badass German Shepherd named Riley. Logan has the opportunity to sync up with him and issue orders. You have complete control of the dog in these situations, and you can sneak through foliage, bark to draw enemies in, and go for the throat with a button press. These moments are fun, but there aren't nearly enough of them.

There are two fundamental changes to the core gameplay, and neither of them makes much of an impact, despite making the experience slightly more realistic. Knife kills can no longer be performed on the run; they now force you to stop for a second and actually stab the enemy, which leaves you temporarily vulnerable. The other change has to do with mobility. If you're in a sprint and you need to get down and into cover without compromising your momentum, going prone while in motion will trigger a slide.

I played Call of Duty: Ghosts on the Wii U Gamepad, which at first was a disorienting experience. Having played the rest of the games in the series on other platforms, I expected the default scheme to resemble that of the other versions. It doesn't, and the difference is night and day. Default button placement feels more in line with what you'd expect from an Elder Scrolls game. Of course, this is Call of Duty, so you can customize it to your preferences.

I honestly don't know whether to recommend the Wii U version of Call of Duty: Ghosts. It's a great game, to be sure, but its technically not up to snuff. Additionally, its online lifespan has a lot of question marks floating around it. If you have other options, take them.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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