In its latest entry, "Call of Duty: Ghosts" breaks from the more realistic setting of its past three games. Instead, "Call of Duty: Ghosts" is set in a post-apocalyptic U.S.A. in midst of a decades-long conflict with a powerful foe. While "Battlefield 4" sets a grander scale for destruction, "Ghosts" gets up close and personal with smaller levels and tight, arcade-like action. Here's everything we noticed in our hands on with the game:
End Of The World
Story wise, "Ghosts" is your basic first person shooter. After an energy crisis in the near future shifts the power structure of the world, a small uprising snowballs into a massive revolution resulting in a super power known as the Federation. Eventually the Feds aim to take out the U.S. and kick things off with a massive orbital strike, severely crippling America and reducing many cities to a cratered wasteland. The story takes place a decade later, with the player taking up a role as the titular Ghosts - super elite, covert soldiers who get any job done. You're tasked with taking out the Federation stronghold.
The single-player campaign is a Molotov cocktail of tight, close-quarters firefights and high-octane vehicular battles. Occasionally, you'll have a sneaking mission where you'll need to play it safe against overwhelming numbers. As with other "Call of Duty" games, you'll tour a variety of locales from steamy, dense jungles to dim military bases and even underwater shipwrecks. There's even a particular early session that could give "Gravity" a run for its money!
In the hypothetical near-future, human/doggy relations have finally hit their peak. Yep, Man's Best Friend becomes gamers' best friend in the form of attack dog, Riley. In a few segments, you'll assume control of Riley for some recon and stealth attacks. We're not too keen on how exactly you're able to directly manipulate the dog's actions — perhaps there's an adorable little ear bud attached to his collar; but playing as Riley is a neat, if somewhat gimmicky, feature. Otherwise, you can sick him on enemy soldiers. It's fun, but shooting is simply a quicker, more efficient method of dispatching an enemy than death by dog.
The big draw for many shooter enthusiasts is the speedy, down-and-dirty multiplayer modes. "Ghosts" delivers some typical modes, but one of the newest modes, Crank, is probably the most interesting. Taking inspiration from the movie of the same name, after each kill you're given a speed boost, but you only have 30 seconds before you need to strike again under penalty of exploding. It's rad.
Extinction Level Event
Rounding out Multiplayer is a four player cooperative mode that pits a team of Ghosts against an alien invasion. "Extinction" tasks players to eliminate several alien nests with a powerful drill while waves of creatures attempt to thwart your efforts. Each wave brings bigger and badder enemies. You need to work closely with your teammates to win, so it should come with a warning that is best experienced with a three friends rather than a bunch of internet randoms.
Level Up and Load Out
Upgrading and unlocking new gear for your soldier returns, but with a twist. Instead of having one virtual warfighter, you'll be able to unlock up to 10 customizable characters. You can also earn visual bells and whistles from increasing your rank, or fulfilling specific requirements. Helmets, uniforms, heads, and patches give you a way to visually distinguish your status against any scrubs. Also, in a "Call of Duty" first, female soldiers are available for playing in Multiplayer. Though simply a cosmetic change, it's nice that the typical "bro crowd" oriented series is trying to mix things up for the fairer sex.
"Ghosts" isn't a particularly difficult game to understand. Gameplay boils down to this: insert as much lead into the opposition as much as possible to win. Repeat until desired win status has been met. Of course you'll have a decent sized armory of rifles, pistols, rocket launchers, and more to inflict pain upon the other side. Your soldier displays astounding athletic prowess with a unique ability to quickly slide into prone from a running stance and to hike up short walls to get a jump on the enemy.
Multiplayer proves to be a fast-paced, energetic sprint to take out the enemy as quickly as possible. Single player, on the other hand, is an amusement park ride of scripted story events featuring monumental shootouts. While "Ghosts'" story mode doesn't have the same freedom as previous games, it has enough fun moments to keep most fans happy.
"Call of Duty: Ghosts" is available now from Activision and Infinity Ward.