Call of Duty: Ghosts

Ghosts of Generation Future

Tim took a trip through time to tell the timeless tale of toil in Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Author: Tim Mack
Published: November 5, 2013
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I don’t play Call of Duty regularly. In fact the last title in the franchise I played was the first Black Ops. Foregoing Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 means that I am two years behind; but, at the same time I don’t feel the potential franchise fatigue when playing an annually released title. Activision recently flew me out to sunny California and gave me an opportunity to review Call of Duty: Ghosts with full access to both the single player campaign as well as all of the multiplayer modes on both the PS3 and PS4.


During the opening title sequence, Call of Duty: Ghosts draws a world where a small number elite operatives overcomes a huge army of enemy combatants through the use of stealth, and fierce determination (similar to the Spartan army of 300). A sole survivor of the enemy coins the title by calling this small elite force Ghosts. At the end of the title sequence the game opens to a father (Elias) recounting this same story to his two grown sons Logan and Hesh while resting during a hike through the woods. The hike is cut short as the surrounding area is bombarded by an attack that Elias offhandedly refers to as ODIN. As Logan and Hesh make their way back to their home for cover (which acts as a basic tutorial on movement through the environment) the game cuts to outer space 15 minutes prior. A maintenance crew for the ODIN is returning to their space station when a rogue group (the Federation) boards the control center and attacks and kills a majority of the crew allowing them to launch the devastation of the ODIN arsenal upon the unsuspecting US. Cut back to Logan and Hesh as they make their way through their decimated neighborhood to re-unite with their father. The opening mission closes and a new cut scene finishes describing how a South American group known as The Federation cripples the US by taking out major cities all at once but faces resistance led by the aforementioned elite operatives known as Ghosts.

The rest of the single player campaign then is set 10 years later in a series of missions pitting Logan and Hesh on a quest to find out more information about where the Federation plans to strike next and in the process uncovers a greater secret about the origins of the elite Ghost squad. Gameplay consists of a well paced variety of stealth missions, full out assault run and gun missions, as well as utilizing plenty of state of the art remote warfare technologies. All sorts of chatter (good and bad) was made during the reveal of Ghosts earlier this year at E3 when we learned that attack dogs would be used in the game.

I’ll discuss the use of dogs in multiplayer a bit later, but for the single player missions, Logan and Hesh have a handy canine companion name Riley that add some interesting game mechanics to the mix. Logan can “sync” up with Riley via a portable screen which displays where Riley moves. Basically you take control of Riley and as a fierce attack dog, you can stealth through enemy areas while crawling along tall grass. These moments feel a bit hokey, but at least provide a fun distraction to the straight up run and gun missions normally found in the series. Riley can also be commanded to attack specific targets as a support unit and there is some ultimately satisfying in watching through a scope a German Shepard leap on an unsuspecting enemy and maul the target to death.

As the story progresses, the game moves from one bombastic set piece to the next. Moving through jungle overgrowth to once vibrant but now devastated cities, as well as undersea encounters, high tech research facilities, train sequences, skyscrapers and of course space. I can’t help but feel like I’ve played missions in similar locations in past CoD (and other first and third person shooters). At the same time though, the level of polish, pacing and incredible fun with each mission is unrivaled. Maybe die hard Call of Duty fans will disagree, but the tension each mission provided was a perfect balance of high stakes potential failures with tight gun play against an enemy that was faceless yet threatening. Perhaps not playing Call of Duty each year has provided me enough distance to not feel jaded about the typical response of the single player campaign feeling almost like an afterthought, but Ghosts clearly invests players with a story arc that has meaning and is cohesive throughout.
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