In the near future, terrorists working for a Latin American political body called the Federation hijack an orbital missile defense platform called ODIN. They succeed in wiping out almost every major city in the United States.
Years after the initial devastation, a handful of survivors — including protagonist Logan, his brother Hesh and his dog Riley — set out to oust the Federation from former U.S. soil.
The plot is silly on a number of levels, and embraces glib jingoism at almost every turn. In an early level, astronauts fire machine guns in zero-gravity without any discernable recoil. The titular "Ghosts" are soldiers who took down a force more than 25 times their size through sheer American badassery. The plot would be comical were it not presented with such a grim, straight face.
Graphics and art
"Call of Duty: Ghosts" doesn't look bad, but at least on the current-gen consoles, it's not going to make anyone's jaw drop (PC and next-gen gamers may well have a different experience). The overall look of the series has not changed considerably since "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" in 2007, and the drab color palette and dull character design are starting to wear thin.
Every once in a while, the levels will show off a stunning set piece, like a church crumbling off a mountainside or a satellite crashing into Earth's atmosphere. Beyond that, though, expect a lot of burned-out buildings, broken-down cars and blasted cityscapes.
Music and sound
The sound design in "Ghosts" is mostly inoffensive. The music intersperses a fair amount of piano in addition to the usual throbbing strings and blaring horns common to military shooters, but there's nothing too memorable in the mix.
The voice acting — including Brandon Routh of "Superman Returns" fame as Hesh — is about as good as it can be, given the cliché-ridden script, but those hoping for bravura performances will have to look elsewhere.
The sound effects on the various guns, grenades and vehicles, though, are excellent, and sound extremely similar to their real-life counterparts.
The bottom line
"Ghosts" is not terrible, but it's essentially the game that "Call of Duty" detractors have always imagined the series to be.
The central gameplay mechanics are functional, if unimaginative. Even glossing over the haphazard single-player campaign, though, the multiplayer seems very content to simply offer more of the same. The game smacks more of stagnation than refinement.
For those gamers who simply cannot live without "Call of Duty" multiplayer and want to start fresh after last year's "Black Ops II," consider "Ghosts" with the feeblest recommendation possible. For everyone else, spend your time and money on a better shooter.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Developer: Infinity Ward
Release Date: 11/5/13 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) / 11/15/13 (PS4) / 11/22/13 (Xbox One)
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Xbox One, PS4
OS: Windows 7 64-Bit / Windows 8 64-Bit
CPU: Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E8200 2.66 GHZ / AMD Phenom™ X3 8750 2.4 GHZ or better
RAM: 6 GB RAM
HDD: 40 GB HD space
Video: NVIDIA® GeForce™ GTS 450 / ATI® Radeon™ HD 5870 or better
Sound: DirectX® compatible sound card
DirectX®: DirectX® 11