There’s a gunfight in space, a world-saving American task force who wear Halloween masks and, at one point, a dog that mauls an attack chopper to death. As if I needed to tell you, Call Of Duty Ghosts octane-drenched solo campaign on PS4 is self-referential, ridiculous, and, as it happens, irresistibly enjoyable. The multiplayer is a force of nature, as ever of course, that introduces new competitive and co-op modes along with palatable bot play… but all in good time.
Call Of Duty enters the eighth console generation not by changing the rules, or even by seducing you with advanced visuals (more later), but by presenting you with a sort of COD greatest hits. Thermal-cam drone levels: in. Player freedom: out. Ill-fated oil rigs, slow-mo door breaches, multiple (expendable) protagonists and ‘you take the one on the left’ moments: but of course.
The world’s predictably war-torn in 2023, when the eponymous spectres’ exploits take place. San Diego’s been nuked, following the hijacking, by the united South American ‘Federation’, of an orbital space station-meets-Death Star known as Odin. With Uncle Sam nursing his wounds, the Federation emerges as the world’s chief superpower and marches in on US soil. The Yanks form an elite task force (spoiler: you) and much gadget-heavy warfare ensues. This is a war in which you can now ‘sync’ with a dog and use him as a remote-control throat-removing device. Future.
Ghosts’ solo campaign works because it veers between cartoonish hijinx such as space station gunfights, swimming with sharks and gratuitous canine combat at one extreme, and a methodical, even stealthy, cadence adopted by the Ghosts during their infiltration missions at the other. Inevitably, there are missions that fall between the two extremes – the fatiguing shooting galleries against the same original Modern Warfare AI that make up for their unbelievable lack of awareness and weapon proficiency with sheer numbers. But these moments are rare lulls in the eager-to-please Ghosts rollercoaster: the rails are very visible, but the places they take you.
One problem remains though: while
you’re gazing down the iron sights of
the campaign, it’s too easy to forget
you’re playing a next-gen game
One problem remains though, and it’s a biggie: while you’re gazing down the iron sights of the campaign, it’s too easy to forget you’re playing a next-gen game. Infinity Ward’s ‘modified’ graphics engine boosts character poly counts and makes the guns look lovely and shiny, but the environments are aliased, poorly textured and lack the post-processing effects you would and should expect from a PS4 title. Levels are bigger than ever before, in terms of both the size of the playable area and the draw distance, but quantity can’t compensate for quality.
Despite its halfway house tech, if you have any interest in shooters, Ghosts will endear itself to you anyway with the smorgasbord [add accents] of multiplayer modes it offers. If you don’t get a rush from competitive multiplayer, Squads (a new bots mode that pits you and an AI team of up to ten with custom loadouts against other people’s) or Zombies-esque survival mode Extinction, maybe you should just go and play Bioshock Infinite again, you big intellectual you.
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