Judging a Man By His Strike Package a.k.a Thoughts on Call of Duty: Ghosts

The annual release of Madden ’13 Call of Duty is upon us and I, alongside approximately 1/3 of the planet pick up a copy. So how’d that work out?


Promo image from Gravity 2: Cruise Control

My first impression of Call of Duty: Ghosts was: “Wow, talk about diminishing returns” and then a red wave of burning hatred blanketed my vision. I’ve never been a huge fan of any of the series campaign iterations* (* exceptions for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and CoD: Black Ops) and this year seems especially dull & derivative. The shooting guns in space thing felt incredibly gimmicky and far-fetched.  YOU CAN’T SHOOT GUNS IN SPACE.  NOT NOW, NOT IN THE (not-too-distant) FUTURE, NOT EVER.  Yo, did you know you can shoot guns in space? That shit’s crazy.

I then made the radical, for me, decision to completely skip the campaign this year. Radical in the sense that every year I slog through the campaign as a way to become familiar with the weaponry and the terrain while at the same time retraining my twitch skills. Except it’s always an exercise in frustration, as all I really want to do is hop into multiplayer.  Plus, what am I missing? Another nonsense 6-10 hour series of set pieces, explosions and ludicrous plot jumps?  Who knows, ’cause I’m not playing it. Now that I no longer have the luxury of 6-8 hour after work gaming marathons (thanks, life), I’d rather spend my limited time on the aspect of the game that I truly enjoy.

Well, did truly enjoy. Becuase this year, Call of Duty multiplayer suuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.

Or rather, it did, but now I like it.

Or I suck and I’ve just accepted it.  I can no longer tell.

So first off, the complaints:

– The multiplayer maps are F’N HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE. They could have easily been split in half and they would still be large enough to run around in and not be on top of other people.  Not that it doesn’t stop me from spawning right in front of opposing players though.  Also, please make sure to make EVERYONE and EVERYTHING is dull brown/grey so it’s impossible to discern the enemy. Thanks.

– Speaking of spawning: I was playing last weekend and got shot, respawned on an exploding IED, then re-spawned right in front of an attack dog. 3 deaths in roughly 1.5 seconds.  FUN and not completely frustrating.

– I’m glad Infinity Ward made a SNIPERS ONLY map (the castle level). Don’t like playing a sniper? Tough.  Crouch in the corner and wait for the timer to run out. Just lie back and think of BLOPS II.

– If your main method of playing involves jump shooting & shotguns, you should be banned from playing forever.


This x 1,000 every single game

– Falling right back into CoD speak while playing. Don’t worry, you do it too.  See if this sounds familiar:  “Oh, ok…OH, OK…WHATEVER DUDE. DUDE!!! WHATEVER!!!…the fuck…fuckin’….goddamn it….I FUCKING SHOT YOU….DUDE WHAT THE FUCK…..i totally shot him….YEAH, FUCK YOU DUDE! RIGHT IN YOUR FACE!!!…how the fuck did he even see me?…YOU ARE SHOOTING BULLETS HOW DO THEY GO AROUND CORNERS???….i shot that guy right in the head and he didn’t die!…glad that i’m apparently using rubber bullets today….HOW DID YOU NOT DIE?……these fucking dogs….FUCK.THIS.GAME” 

I am sure my downstairs neighbors love hearing me invent, loudly, new phrases involving grief, disbelief and swears.

Things that used to be complaints but I’m now coming around on:

–  Menus & navigating: While I can appreciate the attempt at the depth IW has attempted to add to MP, the menu structure is a NIGHTMARE. But now that I’ve played for 20+ hours, I’ve finally got the hang of it, so I’ve (mostly) made peace with its terribleness. Mostly.

–  Are the weapons kind of shitty this go ’round? They seem interchangeable and boring. Which annoyed me at first but now that I’ve found a weapon I can actually kill people with, I’ve settled down a bit.

– At first glance, the perks and killstreaks were weird and different and I did not like them at all.  And those damn dogs deserve a special place in video game hell, preferably the same place as every terrible water level I’ve been forced to play. But now?  RECON HELO MOTHERHUMPERS. Related: Annoying that it’s so difficult to shoot down the enemy’s flying killstreaks.

– The field orders. Such a weird touch!  I don’t go out of my way to complete them but if I do, i generally end up with a SATCOMM.  Thanks guys.

Things that are good!

– I actually like the extinction mode.  The Treyarch zombie modes NEVER  made sense to me (ok, shoot zombies, yes, but everything else attributed to that mode? Total mystery). I think it helps to play with people who know what they are doing and don’t dies inside of 5 minutes. I don’t think I’ll be playing this all the time, but I’d pop in for a game or so.

– The SA-805; there are many like it but this one is mine.

– The unexpected but delightful team killing & stage altering K.E.M. Strike killstreak reward. I got one from the first crate I ever called in; imagine my dismay when all I’ve ever gotten after that was Satcomms.

– 20+ hours in, and my reflexes are somewhat starting to get back up to snuff. So instead of awful 4 kills/29 death performances, I’m back up in the 13 kills/13-15 death range.

Ultimately, Call of Duty: Ghosts is … a very workman like version of Call of Duty. Maybe next year Treyarch will shock and delight us all with whatever next-gen (when can we stop using that phrase to describe the PS4/Xbox1?) iteration they come up with. Call of Duty: Appomattox? Call of Duty: Das Boot? Call of Duty: Behind the Green Door? Dazzle us, Treyarch!

Leave a comment below if you want to join our clan, the Red Right Hand.  More than just a stolen Nick Cave song title!