TECH
07/11/2013 11:01 GMT | Updated 07/11/2013 11:18 GMT

'Call Of Duty: Ghosts' Review

'Call of Duty: Ghosts' is the latest instalment in Activision's long-running and squillion-selling military FPS series. It's out for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on 5 November, and Xbox One and PS3 at launch.

The Pitch:

"Call of Duty: Ghosts is an extraordinary step forward for one of the largest entertainment franchises of all-time. This new chapter in Call of Duty features a new dynamic where players are on the side of a crippled nation fighting not for freedom or liberty, but simply to survive."

Key Features:

  • Customisable squads let you go into multiplayer battles as a team - even when you're fighting one-on-one.
  • More immersive and realistic level environments.
  • 'Create a soldier' lets you build a new warrior from scratch - including female fighters for the first time
  • Realistic and dark single-player campaign
  • Next-gen graphics on Xbox One and PS4

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Verdict

At this point, Call of Duty might as well be FIFA. Both now follow the same annual pattern of small technical and mechanical upgrades, coupled with a renewed marketing hard-sell and - it has to be said - boundless public enthusiasm. Both also purport to represent something extremely complex, and often quite dull, in short, action-packed bursts.

As a result, it's difficult to approach a new CoD game with anything like an open mind. Most gamers have not only played variations on this formula before - most will have played almost precisely this exact game, with the same rhythm to the single player campaign, the same level of graphical fidelity (our review of the next-gen version is still embargoed) and the roughly the same balance of strategy, action and co-operative teamplay in mutliplayer matches.

But that's not to say that it's bad. Before getting into what's new, it's worth restating that Call of Duty is popular for a reason. It's a precise, fast, extremely addictive and engaging take on the traditional military FPS. It knows how to balance close-quarters fighting with a sense of scale and chained objectives. It has a sense of humour and knows not to take itself too seriously, while still providing experts Football Manager-style depth. There are big guns, quick deaths, humiliation and surprise. It's really, really fun.

This time around the single-player campaign isn't massive, and has many flaws. Bad voice acting and dialogue is again the norm. The Bond-like tradition of featuring multiple locations (snow, forests, towns, factories) for no very good reason is present and correct. But that said, the actual story - that of a few lost soldiers 10 years after the apocalypse, trying to hold out and survive against the odds - is at least a bit more engaging than usual. The range of action and missions is still head-spinning and exhilarating. And some of the set-pieces are brilliant. The mission set in the space station is an obvious highlight, while 'Federation Day' also provides a few really spectacular moments (and sort of eats Battlefield 4's skyscraper-toppling lunch).

In multiplayer there are also some key innovations. The addition of a true 'Create A Soldier' mode plus the 'Squads' option lets you build a team of soldiers to take into each battle - even if you're only playing one-on-one, and provides a nice level of consistency and flexibility. New gear like attack dogs freshens things up, while being able to play as a female soldier is also welcome and overdue. Mechanically the addition of contextual leaning is welcome, as are the new Kill Streaks, level-evolution events and 30 new weapons.

The overall effect is of a game which is definitely playing it safe - and which will likely be blown away (on Xbox One) at least by the upcoming Titanfall. That said it's still a nice and welcome update for established players, and remains one of the most fun experiences you can have on a modern console -- if you're one of the last three people alive who have never played it.

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