They say familiarity breeds contempt, and Activision’s Call of Duty franchise is nothing, if not familiar. With a new round chambered every 12 months, the series continues to exist on the cusp of total over-exposure, while at the same time raking in massive amounts of cash and critical plaudits on an annual basis.
With the latest entry in the franchise, titled Call of Duty: Ghosts debuting earlier today, Activision‘s embargo on reviews has finally been lifted – so just what did the critical community at large make of this all-new outing? (opinions on the game’s Xbox One version will be revealed closer to its November 22nd release).
For a more in-depth appraisal of the title, check out these choice reviews:
NOTE — The following reviews contain opinions pertaining to both current and next-gen editions of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Though mechanically identical (aside from one-or-two multiplayer mode size-caps on older hardware), the latter category does boast the better overall visuals, with particular attention being paid to the game’s 8th-gen texture work.
IGN (Scott Lowe):
“Call of Duty: Ghosts isn’t a reinvention of the franchise, but proves there’s still room for innovation within its existing formula. Though at the risk of overcomplicating things at times, its robust multiplayer gameplay, surprisingly fun co-op modes, and lengthy, challenging, and varied campaign makes Ghosts one of the best Call of Duty games to date.”
Joystiq (Xav de Matos):
“Call of Duty: Ghosts is a solid installment, but it lacks creativity and innovation. Its new engine already looks dated in the face of the competition, and it eschews many of the solid concepts seen in Black Ops 2. […]Expanding on Treyarch’s accomplishments could have elevated Call of Duty: Ghosts, but Infinity Ward largely returns to ideas it has been tweaking since the original Modern Warfare. Infinity Ward has always forged its own path, but its formulaic design document has become worn. It’s a good book, but it’s time to turn a new page.”
Polygon (Russ Frushtik):
“Call of Duty: Ghosts is mired in a distinct lack of ambition. Outside of the stellar Extinction mode, Ghosts follows more often than it leads, bringing with it familiar missions, modes and experiences. Ghosts feels like an accountant’s sequel, with just enough content to justify a new installment. It just never goes beyond that.”
Eurogamer (Dan Whitehead):
“Ghosts, in and of itself, is a fine game. It ticks all the boxes and then blows the boxes up in glorious 1080p resolution (on PS4 at least). Those who only ever play COD will be more than happy with it, but those who have grown weary of the series will see more of their ambivalence justified this time around. Infinity Ward had a chance here to throw down the gauntlet for the next hardware generation, to set the new standard, to show that this hugely popular, much derided behemoth can dance to a different tune. It’s chosen to play a Greatest Hits package instead.”
Videogamer (Steven Burns):
“Outside of multiplayer, the campaign is a po-faced, nonsensical rehash of greatest hits long past. Extinction (Left 4 Dead meets Zombies) is a lot of fun, and Squads feels like a well-marketed shell for Black Ops‘ Combat Training mode. Multiplayer is still the star then, but it’s diminishing with every return, its addictiveness tempered by over-familiarity.”
Giant Bomb (Jeff Gerstmann):
“Ghosts offers the same style of video game combat that Call of Duty has had since 2007. The core of it is still engaging and can be very thrilling, if you’re receptive to this type of action. In fact, it’s still my favorite online multiplayer shooter. But the bells and whistles surrounding the game are muted and missing, leaving behind that same core without giving you enough new and exciting reasons to come back. Even with the improved graphics to be had on next-generation consoles, I’d rather play Black Ops II.”
CVG (Nick Cowen):
“There is an overwhelming sense of familiarity one gets from playing Call Of Duty: Ghosts and that’s probably because an iteration of this series drops every year without truly reinventing the wheel. Its formula is a world-record-breaking recipe for success. It’s fun, sure, but it’s not groundbreaking. But then, for the purposes of its audience, does it need to be?”
Destructoid (Jim Sterling):
“Call of Duty may have picked up a reputation as one of the laziest, most callously developed cash cows in the business, but I’ve always believed that reputation was undeserved. Call of Duty: Ghosts, however, with its slapdash campaign and unambitious multiplayer, contains enough factory-standard cynicism to earn itself plenty of scorn. Nothing Ghosts does is especially bad, but nothing Ghosts does is worth paying any attention to. It exists to exist, a stopgap bit of filler spat out as the industry transitions from one generation of consoles to another.”
Digital Spy (Liam Martin):
“Possibly to accommodate current and next-gen consoles, Call of Duty: Ghosts doesn’t feel like a huge step forward for the franchise. Instead, it offers a refined single and multiplayer experience, which ultimately provide more ways than ever to enjoy the action. Despite an overriding feeling of familiarity, Ghosts is another excellent entry in the Call of Duty series.”
Gamesradar (Lorenzo Veloria):
“All in all, Call of Duty: Ghosts takes the FPS formula established by its predecessors and doesn’t innovate. Instead, it just adds more. […] There are no memorable characters to hang on to, no jaw dropping twists–just more of what you’ve already seen before. The seller here is the multiplayer. The ability to completely customize your soldiers, the polished gameplay, and a few entertaining additions will keep you coming back to gun down your friends for hours on end. Just don’t expect to be blown away.”
Gamespot (Shaun McInnis):
“From an exuberant campaign full of spectacle and variety to the way Extinction’s unpredictable aliens force you to use those targeting skills in entirely new ways, Ghosts strikes an excellent balance between the familiar and the novel. This is a game that’s keenly aware of the series’ strengths, but doesn’t find itself beholden to them. No matter what standard you apply, Call of Duty: Ghosts is a terrific first-person shooter.”
EGM (Ray Carsillo):
“When compared to the Call of Duty games that have come before it, Ghosts has a few problems, primarily in regards to innovation and moving the franchise forward. There’s no denying this. There’s also no denying, however, that the game’s still really damn fun to play–and even with [its] issues, Infinity Ward has proven they can still hold the line, no matter the pressure.”
OPM UK (Phil Iwaniuk):
“There’s a lot of highly polished content in Ghosts, and although it’s disappointing to see that it doesn’t truly embrace next-gen possibilities, I can’t lambaste it because I’d be denying the loveable bombast it doles out in wild, indiscriminate sprays. […] Ghosts’ multiplayer has seen wholesale changes that put most annual sports titles to shame, and the result is arresting and noob-friendly, if not revolutionary.”
OXM UK (Aoife Wilson):
“Call of Duty is, and has always been, a series about instant gratification. It’s fast food gaming at its most refined, a continual adrenaline rush that never thinks beyond the next kill. Ghosts maintains that heady, intoxicating momentum of shoot, kill, win, reward – but pales at the thought of taking the franchise in any interesting new directions.”
Call of Duty: Ghosts is now available for PC, PS3, Wii U and Xbox 360 platforms. Next-gen editions of the game are scheduled to launch alongside their respective consoles, on November 15th (PlayStation 4) and November 22nd (Xbox One).
Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.