Activision’s “Call of Duty: Ghosts” is the latest iteration in the Call of Duty (CoD) franchise, which has graced our consoles and computer rigs for nigh on a decade. More often than not, there is a heavy emphasis placed upon clichéd blockbuster cutscenes, explosions, vehicle chases, multiplayer and of course those obligatory nemeses, the Russians. Today’s multiplayer preview showed no signs of change.
Infinity Ward, who are responsible for coding the new Call of Duty game, have crafted an entirely new engine. Previously, a number of fans had been critical over the studio’s unwillingness to adopt a different engine, which admittedly had passed its shelf-life. But, with the “next-generation” consoles coming to the fore, the developers have finally decided to take the plunge.
Recently, Activision held a huge press conference, bloated with techno-babble and overly-charged rhetoric. The incident started out with Activision Chief Executive Officer Eric Hirshberg describing an unofficial “Call of Duty Time” holiday, which coincides with the series’ annual November releases, and proceeded to boast about the popularity of his company’s franchise. Hirshberg then alluded to some of the changes that may be observed within our latest games, resulting from social media networking, YouTube and portable devices, referring to a change in the “pop cultural landscape.” The CEO then went on to explain the key ingredient to the franchise — fun — and then proceeded to launch into high-octane speech mode:
“You can count, every year, on Call of Duty to make your knuckles white, your heart race, to unleash your competitive fire, and trigger your ‘holy s**t’ reflex more consistently than any other form of entertainment in the world. Adrenalized, competitive, over-the-top, thrill ride with your hair on fire fun.”
Hirshberg then introduced the world premier trailer for Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer. Frankly, after that build-up, a public demonstration of alchemy would have seemed disappointing. Please be advised, the following video contains explicit lyrics and depictions of violence that may disturb some viewers.
The trailer commenced with the lyrical musings of Eminem. Hell broke out immediately, and the typical scenes of fire fights, explosions and grenade lobbing were all a part of the standard, gameplay fodder.
In terms of multiplayer modes, there appear to be a number of diverse options available. “Search and Rescue” describes a scenario where players are tasked with collecting dog tags to keep your team mates alive and kicking, or to dispatch enemies from the battlefield. Another mode, called “Cranked” requires the player to bag another kill within 30 seconds of the last, otherwise they were to face imminent death, by explosion; with each kill the player’s speed increases slightly. All in all, a total of 7 new game modes have been introduced for Call of Duty fans.
Throughout the demonstration, it was good to see a heavy emphasis on destructible environments, with electrical pylons collapsing, petrol stations crumbling and rubble and debris flying skyward, as players vaulted over objects and executed bum slides under others.
Helicopters and aerial drones also made their return, both of which could be controlled by players, along with a new arsenal of weaponry, comprising of 30 different types.
After the whole trailer came to an end, Eminem made a pre-recorded announcement, touting his brand new single (which was heard during the trailer), called “Survival.”
Although it does seem like Call of Duty: Ghosts is a “much of the same” affair, there are some big improvements. The engine is discernibly better, with nicer textures and an emphasis on destructible environments; however, it does pale in comparison to the likes of Crysis 3 and some of the other heavy-hitters.
No doubt, however, as Hirshberg mentioned previously, the fun-factor is also critical to a video game’s success. One thing that Call of Duty has always nailed is the ability to ensure their games run smoothly, with impressive set pieces and a solid multiplayer experience. The question remains, however, when much of the competition is adopting the same strategy, are the fans likely to become tired of the same format, dished out annually? With this latest multiplayer trailer preview, it’s certainly possible.
By: James Fenner