A lot of people are on the fence about picking up Ghosts; esp. on the Wii U. They are cautiously awaiting someone they trust to give them a thumbs up or down before they pull the trigger (pun intended) on this action FPS title.
I managed to put a few hours in last night and figured I’d share what I found. This review only pertains to the Wii U version and I’ll go out of my way NOT to mention any other platform (see how they like it).
Disclaimer: I only played Squad, Multiplayer and Extinction; I have not played the solo story campaign mode yet. That is why this is a “Quick Look” and not a full review.
After about 10 minutes of “day one update patching”, you’ll finally get to start the game. Load times are comparable to Black Ops 2. Getting to the main menu seems faster than BO2 and that’s good.
Before you play multiplayer, they recommend you play the Squads part of the game – so I did. There are some 4 or 5 modes of squad play including one that sounded fun to me; a horde type game where enemies came in waves and you as the underdog (armed only with a single pistol and a random kill streak drop) had to take as many waves out as you can. I took that for a spin.
You play with a single other AI bot working with you and all the enemies are, of course, AI bots too.
First thing I noticed is the map. It seemed .. bigger … than COD BO2 maps and favored indoor environments (which I like). They added some nice touches to the maps – that is narrow walking surfaces; a plank across two roofs, a fallen tree across a gorge … you get the idea. Keeps you on your toes.
Next thing I noticed was the skill level of the bots. The higher I got, the smarter they seemed to get. They appeared to make better use of the environments to their advantage and are good marksmen. You could easily be fooled into thinking you were playing with humans. Your NPC AI bot, though – didn’t really feel like a “team mate” in this area of the game. He was playing a “Team Deathmatch” game instead of a two-on-many survival game.
Between rounds, they drop supplies for you and the horde stops for a bit. I know I use the word horde a lot but this doesn’t feel like Nazi Zombies – it feels like TDM.
It really is a good way to get acquainted with the system.
After Squads, I was eager to face off some humans so I hopped on Multiplayer. At about 10pm (AZ time) last night there were close to 1500 people playing (it ain’t Xbox or PS3 numbers, but there were definitely games to play). I started with tried and true Core TDM.
The player/loadout system seemed in reviews to be harder than it really is. As you level up, you get squad coin. These you can spend unlocking weapons and add ons. You can have something like 10 load outs – but the twist is that each load out is attached to a member of your team. So you pick a PERSON and you get their load out (that you customized). You start with 3 people (or load outs) and unlock more later.
As mentioned, the maps seem huge. The first map I fought on was like a destroyed industrial complex. Lots of indoor action – lots of water pouring around; even pools deep enough to swim in.
The castle map is fun; there are tall stone archways you can walk up on – making you a great target, but offering you a very nice view of things.
It is TDM – there is only so much you can say about it. I did throw down some Domination – it clocked in as you expect.
Finally, we fired up Extinction – this generation’s so-called Zombies.
Extinction puts you on a map filled with giant alien nests. You are issued a drill that will eventually drill deep enough into the nest to drop a nuke and blow the sucker up. You and your three team mates are to protect the drill (and repair it, should the alien horde start feasting on it like Mynock on a power cable).
This can be played online as well as locally. The game play does requires some additional info. Check it in action (not Wii U footage shown – but gives you a good idea).
First up, you’re issued a pistol and you have four “equipment” slots that are pre-filled for you. Things like ammo drop, explosives drop, mini-gun, etc. You can buy these ANYTIME, as long as you have cash for it; even right in the middle of battle.
You also earn skill points along the way. These let you improve things; carry more ammo, do more damage with weapons, etc. It is quick and easy to spend them.
Cash is earned by killing aliens.
The map is also littered with new guns, environmentals – even “secrets” you can dig up which outfit you with crazy stuff like a pair of binoculars that let’s you call in an air strike where you painted it up. Very satisfying.
Once the nuke goes off, you take the drill to the next hive and wash rinse and repeat.
If your team mate goes down, you can revive him as he bleeds out. Takes awhile, but you can do it. If a squad mate dies, he can be returned to duty for $3000.
Extinction offers something exciting for those that are tired of zombies but are looking for a chaotic co-op mode to play. Unlike Zombies, there are no really “slow rounds”;’ where the action really starts getting fun around level 16 or so. From the first round, you’ll need to be pulling your weight.
Another neat thing in Ghosts are field missions. Sometimes right in the middle of a fight, you’ll pick up orders from a blue suitcase that will give you some objective. Great rewards come to those that can pull this off. It might be “make 25 kills with a pistol” or “Don’t take damage this round”, etc.
Overall, the game raises the bar graphically; it looks a bit crisper than BO2. Attention has been paid to sound; echoes and “room muffle” are in great play and really add an air of ambiance to the game. Maps are bigger with more interiors. The COD formula is firmly in place. You can completely play the game off-screen on the game pad and you can play two players locally – one on the TV, one on the game pad. That’s huge.
Oh, and one of your kill streaks is a personal dog to send to kill your enemy. I’ve loved the dog’s involvement in COD games since World at War. It is nice to see them back.
They also offer a new type of weapon; a Marksman gun. It is like a sniper rifle with a bit shorter range but a gorgeous scope. I was on the fence about them at first, but once I unlocked a couple – I really do like them.
I saw one or two minor glitches initially; a body fell wrong – a little popup graphic … but oddly enough, I never saw them again. Everything seemed fine. Must evaluate further. So far, no trouble with frame rate during multiplay.
Is it revolutionary? Will it set the world afire? Nah – It is more Call of Duty. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Unlike sport yearly rehashes, you’ll get a full new solo adventure, tons of big fun maps, new weapons and load out and you get the yummy Extinction mode.
I see myself spending a bunch of time with this title; if nothing else, playing Extinction with my friends and playing the tried and true multiplayer modes like TDM and Domination.
The Wii U version will likely never get DLC or even major updates – so you have to be happy with what come in the box. I got it for $10 off at TRU which I figure compensates me for a map pack I’ll never get. Keep your expectations in check, and you’ll do fine.
If you are a COD fan, this is a no brainer. More of what you love with a couple goodies thrown in the mix. If Modern Warfare made you unhappy, don’t worry – this is still closer to Black Ops, despite the changes. What version to get? Wii U version makes total sense to me because I need to be able to play off-TV, rolled up on the couch while the wife dominates the TV. My regular answer? Buy a version that you your friends are buying. COD is best played with friends and this version is no exception.