Critical Intel

Critical Intel
Call of Duty: Ghosts Is A $60 Game Of Follow The Leader

Robert Rath | 27 Feb 2014 16:00
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Call of Duty Ghosts Screenshot 8

The side effect of all this is it makes Logan look incompetent and unable to take any initiative. The joke, of course, is that the other Ghosts are terrible leaders too. Micromanaging Logan isn't the half of it either, the real issue is their poor communication skills. Usually in a Call of Duty game, there's at least a cursory mission briefing, even if it's just the team leader turning to the camera and summarizing how the mission's supposed to go. That doesn't happen in Ghosts, at least not effectively, and it creates a strange feeling of not being part of the team. Case in point: take the mission where you infiltrate the research station. At one point the team leader told to stand at a gate and wait for a jeep full of enemies to pull up, but only after it arrived did he tell me that I was supposed to knife the passenger - difficult, since I was standing on the driver's side. Later, I crouched guarding a hallway, ready to defend the team as they hacked into a computer. I sat there twenty seconds waiting for enemies only to turn around and find that my comrades had wrapped up and moved on without a single word. Every mission was like that, and most of the time I had no sense of the plan, our objectives, or even what equipment we carried until two seconds before we were supposed to use it. There's an old military joke about officers that treat their men like mushrooms, feeding them shit and keeping them in the dark - that's pretty much how I felt playing Call of Duty: Ghosts. Even at the end when Hesh tells his comrades to fire artillery at the train you're both riding, he gives the order over the radio before telling you about the plan.

Hey Hesh - I'm right here buddy. Maybe want to run that by me and see if I have any concerns about, you know, you ordering our deaths. Kinda a breach of etiquette, considering I'm your brother.

Dickhead.

But what's really tragic about Call of Duty: Ghosts is how this follower mentality exemplifies the game as a whole. Rather than taking the lead and showing initiative, the campaign instead sticks close behind previous games in the series, creating a messy collage made up from better games and movies. There's expanded space and underwater sequences ripped from MW3 and Black Ops II by way of Moonraker and Thunderball. There's plane hijacking that's itself hijacked from The Dark Knight Rises. And, ironically enough, a mission that takes place in a sandblasted Las Vegas that looks suspiciously like Dubai in Spec Ops: The Line. It's all rehash, and apart from the brief dog sequences, it tastes like microwaved leftovers.

For Call of Duty, a successful transition to next-gen will probably mean a shakeup in their formula. With the processing power new systems can call down, there's no excuse for sequential follow-the-leader gameplay or maps that funnel you into tight corridors even when you're outdoors. (Something's amiss when a game makes floating in space feel claustrophobic.) Perhaps the series is showing its age and the same tricks don't work. Or maybe Ghosts came out half-baked due to the next-gen console launch. Odds are we'll never know exactly what went wrong.

But whatever happened, I hope the next Call of Duty strikes a new path and chooses to lead, not follow.

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