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Is Call of Duty: Ghosts Worth Buying on PS3? Review

We take a ride on the Playstation 3 version of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Is it enough with next-gen right around the corner?

Review by Mike Williams, .

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Mike Williams Primary Reviewer

It's been a while, hasn't it, Call of Duty? You haven't been high on my radar, but that's not your fault, you're just not within my normal wheelhouse. I tend to prefer third-person titles and my deathmatch shooter of choice was the old sci-fi-leaning Unreal Tournament series. My last foray into your pond was the first Modern Warfare, which I admit was a game of great craft that just didn't hit me in the heart. Certain first-person titles can definitely capture my interest, like last year's Far Cry 3 or Dishonored, but my preferences tend to lie in a different direction.

So here we stand on the eve of a console transition and Call of Duty: Ghosts stands as one of the games that can truly illustrate what you're leaving behind with the current generation and what you're gaining with the next. So how did the PlayStation 3 version fare with me?

Surprisingly okay actually.

Screenshots not indicative of current-gen versions.

Let's hit those graphics first. The Call of Duty engine is definitely showing its age. Ghosts does some impressive things with its levels - more about that later - but after spending much of the year with next-gen console demos and my PC, the PlayStation 3 version feels like it's at the end of its lifespan. Textures could use some work, characters sport noticeable polygon heads at times, and the entire thing is jaggy and aliased all to hell. If I had to guess, the team at Infinity Ward prioritized framerate over sheer graphical quality as Ghosts just didn't wow me as much as Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag did last week. It's a different aim and I'm sure hardcore FPS fans appreciate the 60 frames per second more.

The story in Call of Duty: Ghosts surprised me, because it shares more with post-apocalypse science fiction or G.I. Joe than it does with real-world events. The game begins with the destruction of California via orbital bombardment and first-person atmospheric re-entry, only to jump ten years into the future to what's left of the United States. While the war between the weakened United States and the South American Federation fills in the game's background, the game's driving conflict is the Ghosts versus former teammate Gabriel Rorke. A mission gone wrong saw Rorke left for dead and now he has returned for revenge on those who betrayed him. Yeah, it sounds pretty 'action movie', and it really is.

The cast is pretty small. You're thrust into the role of the mute Logan Walker, but Logan really isn't the main character of the game. Instead, Logan's brother Hesh and his father Elias are the focuses; Hesh does all the talking that a normal main character would do, in and out of loading screens, and Elias has a past directly tied to Rorke. Outside of Hesh, Elias, and Rorke, there's also a few Ghost team members, notably Merrick and Keegan. And... that's it. You'll spend most of the 18 mission, five-hour campaign following these guys around and they're not given much depth. In practice, they're like talking versions of the waypoint notifications you'll find in other games. They'll tell you what you need to do, they'll sit at the next door you need to breach, and they'll shoot at enemies with you. They're mostly invincible, so you can peg them in the head and they'll drop to the ground, only to get back up seconds later. I tested what happened when you really unload on them: the game chides you on friendly fire and sets you back to the last checkpoint. Ah, well.

Feels more like The Last of Us, doesn't it?

You're probably wondering how the dog, Riley, fits in. Riley captured everyone's attention at the first reveal of Ghosts, but he doesn't play a huge part in the game. Riley is only in the game for around three missions and one of those has you carrying him for half of it. Otherwise, he operates as a living drone: you'll occasionally take control of Riley for scouting and stealth sections. That's all you get. He's not around long enough for a strong bond to be created, outside of the fact that he's a dog. You love dogs, right?

Call of Duty: Ghosts reminds me of Uncharted when it comes down to actual gameplay: rote, refined cover shooting punctuated by absolutely stunning set pieces. The level design is pretty boring since it's based on real-world locations and facilities, but what Infinity Ward does with those levels at times is awe-inspiring. The first mission starts with a city caving in around you and the rest of the game continues to deliver. A hectic chase across an ice field, parachuting from a falling skyscraper, running through a city as it floods, swimming on the ocean floor amid falling debris, and sprinting across the deck of a sinking aircraft carrier; it's all pretty damn awesome. You've done the shooting before, but the crazy level destruction Infinity Ward gets up to is worth a look.

That's why it's a shame that the graphics aren't completely up to snuff. Some of the things done in the levels make me want to pick up the next-gen version of Ghosts just to see what Infinity Ward did with significantly more powerful hardware. And I can do that easily because Activision not only has a $10 upgrade program available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but progress carries over to next-generation consoles via your Call of Duty account.

Ghosts is played by the book. You'll rush from area-to-area and scene-to-scene, shooting up South Americans and hunting Rorke. Ghosts' delivery is like a big-budget action film: things explode, people yell, threats are made, and everyone's deadly serious. It doesn't always work. One emotional moment between Logan and Hesh is delivered as orbital kinetic harpoons destroy a fleet of the enemy's ships in the background. After the semi-serious ending, the credits are accompanied by a new Eminem song. That's just the kind of game it is: all bravado, falling debris, and explosions. The campaign would probably work better in an action film because there the lead character would pull you in with a great performance or sheer charisma. But Logan is a non-character, and Hesh is just an angry cipher. As I said before, Ghosts felt a lot like Uncharted as I played it, but the game lacks that great cast to keep you invested.

Ghosts will take you to some interesting places.

I entered with few expectations, having only played Modern Warfare, but I left with a renewed respect for Infinity Ward's craft. They've put together a nice little thrill ride in the campaign, even if the old engine lets them down a bit on the PlayStation 3. If you can wait, the game's presentation may be better suited to a platform with greater graphical fidelity, like the PlayStation 4 or PC. The plot is straight out of an action film, but if you know that going into it, you'll be fine. I'd honestly say it's perfect for a Redbox if you're not to tied to Call of Duty multiplayer.

Jaz Rignall Multiplayer Opinion

I’ve been looking forward to seeing exactly what Call of Duty: Ghosts delivers on the multiplayer front, and after giving it some “real world” post-release playtesting, it’s clear that it’s business as usual.

First impressions are good. The graphics are a step up from previous editions of the series, with a little more finesse and detail that helps improve visual acuity. From muzzle flashes and smoke to player movement at the edge of draw distance, the game feels visceral and more immersive. It’s certainly not a big leap forward, but these details help articulate the action in an even more realistic fashion. It’s something you get used to almost immediately and the take for granted soon after, but it’s a positive step forward.

New multiplayer modes have been introduced as expected, and most are fun. There’s the usual suspects in the form of FFA and Deathmatch modes, and Infected will be familiar to anyone who has a history with the franchise. Search and Rescue/Destroy and Domination step it up a notch by adding some objective strategy to the usual bullet exchange, and Cranked is a little gimmicky, but fun when you’re with a good team. I also like the idea of Kill Confirmed, which changes the way you approach the game tactically, because you’re often faced with the choice of taking a risk and running into a firing lane to pick up dogtags, or sitting back and waiting to see if you can catch out an enemy player.

Squads is perhaps the most interesting departure for the game, and adds some much-needed variety to the action. I think it still needs some work – the AI isn’t always convincing – but it’s a welcome change of pace, and one that I think works well for those like me who like multiplayer, but might want a break from spending time with other real players, particularly after unpleasantness. I'm hoping that Infinity Ward continues to develop this aspect of the game in future editions, as I feel it has some terrific potential, particularly if it could be applied to more sophisticated game modes. It's the sort of change-up I think the series needs, and would open up new avenues for the game designers to explore.

Put all of this together, and you have a rock solid multiplayer package that contains just what the hardcore COD audience wants, while conservatively adding some new features and modes to switch things up a little. It's the classic COD formula, with new modes and a suite of tweaks, refinements and fine-tuning. And that's its blessing and its curse. In many respects the series feels like the same old song, albeit a great one, being expertly remixed. It’s a winning formula, and I cannot blame Activision for sticking with it, as it seems to be something that people love. But as we transition generations, I'm hoping to hear some different melodies – and perhaps even a different song.

Sure, Call of Duty: Ghosts is a very good multiplayer shooter, and undoubtedly the best of its type. But it stands on the shoulders of the greats that have come before it - and because of that, I feel like it's suffering from diminishing returns. I cannot deny its quality and finesse, but after a generation of iterative refinements, it’s feeling too familiar. Too safe. Ghosts is better than the last COD game, but it’s incrementally better, not significantly better. Which means if you still love COD’s very focused multiplayer gunplay and just can’t get enough of it, or, more importantly, you play regularly with a team, this is nothing but a Very Good Thing. But if you’re a more casual player who’s experienced previous COD games and was hoping for something a little more varied and different this time around – perhaps something like the excellent Extinction Mode explored to its full potential, or cooperative modes that are more creative and fun – you’ll be disappointed.

  • Visuals: Call of Duty's old engine takes another lap around the track, but it's definitely slowing with age.
  • Music: It plays appropriate action movie music, but I couldn't tell you a theme that sticks out for me.
  • Interface: Ghosts has a minimal UI that tries to stay out of your way. It works well.
  • Lasting Appeal: Most people are playing Ghosts for multiplayer, but if single-player is your thing, the campaign is five hours tops. Not much to see after that, other than picking up the hidden Rorke files in each level.

An aging engine takes one last shot at an aging console before Infinity Ward turns its full focus towards the next generation. The developer does a great job with the some of the set pieces, but most of the campaign is still basic, refined cover shooting. A decent last hurrah on the PlayStation 3, but you may want to invest in the PlayStation 4, PC, or Xbox One versions if you're looking for the full effect.

3 /5

Is Call of Duty: Ghosts Worth Buying on PS3? Review Mike Williams We take a ride on the Playstation 3 version of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Is it enough with next-gen right around the corner? 2013-11-06T16:25:00-05:00 3 5

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Comments 23

  • Avatar for Jonny5Alive7 #1 Jonny5Alive7 3 years ago
    The headlines on your reviews always look a bit odd to me. I think you need to put Review first and then your subtitle, otherwise you can't tell for sure if the article is an actual review or not.
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  • Avatar for twopenny #2 twopenny 3 years ago
    One burning question remains: how good is that dynamic fish AI?! Welcome to the next gen, everyone.

    The reviews so far have been mostly lukewarm and unimpressed, though I'm sure nothing short of complete infrastructural collapse would damage sales at this point. But will series' fans start experiencing some Duty-fatigue as well?

    Who knows what will happen, but I wonder if a no-risk, play-it-safe approach is going to be viable as newer, bigger games start to appear on the new consoles. Hell, what does a truly innovative and fresh Call of Duty even look like...besides Call of Duty: the Peloponnesian War, of course. So many questions!
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  • Avatar for Thusian #3 Thusian 3 years ago
    I'm just not sure I felt so burned by the single player of Black Ops 2. I remember one mission where you're waste deep in water trying to sneak by drones. I kept messing up and it was instant reload checkpoint. I did not feel like a badass warrior, I didn't even feel like I was on a roller coaster. I felt like I was an actor. Every time I missed my mark every time I messed up the "director's" vision for the scene he yelled "Cut! Lets take it from the top everyone, this guy isn't doing what I want him to". I just couldn't get on board with that again.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #4 touchofkiel 3 years ago
    @twopenny USGamer posted an interesting article about how, as esports grow, games like CoD are unlikely to change. And the no-risk design sure works well for sports games, so it makes sense to me. Still, you'd think they would at least try something a little new with the campaign, but I guess not.

    The last CoD I tried was MW3, and I have to agree about the graphics being weak. But that frame-rate... in a way, it was refreshing, because that buttery-smooth gameplay something you just don't see on consoles, but something about it felt weird and off to me. Remember how people said that the 48-FPS The Hobbit film felt like a video game? That's how I feel about CoD. Yes, CoD actually is a video game, but it's the same principle... something about that smoothness felt very off to me.

    The last CoD I actually enjoyed was WaW, because I'm a sucker for shooting nazis in bombed out WWII settings - a setting that has died out in shooters, it would seem.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #5 touchofkiel 3 years ago
    @Thusian That is pretty much the perfect analogy for the on-rails, insta-fail "gameplay" of most FPS/TPS games these days. I'm thinking specifically of BF3, but it can be applied to plenty of games.
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  • Avatar for gold163 #6 gold163 3 years ago
    Here is what I don't understand -- it has been four entire yearly installments of the game since Modern Warfare 2, and the way the series plays has remained largely unchanged (and honestly, how can you expect games developed on two-year cycles to really change that much from year to year).

    And only NOW are people experiencing "series fatigue"? If the mediocre reception to Ghosts wasn't so universal I'd go as far as to say that it's just media outlets jumping on bandwagon dislike for the series. Battlefield 4 increments a winning formula but the game by and large is not revolutionary -- and yet receives stunningly high marks all around. Somehow Ghosts does the same thing that Call of Duty always does but THIS time for whatever reason it doesn't receive near-perfect scores merely for having a budget behind its production.

    Ghosts may or may not be worse than its recent predecessors, but it feels to me like people just arbitrarily decided to finally become "tired" of Call of Duty this year. The series has been mostly the same in structure since the first Modern Warfare, possibly even farther back with CoD 2!

    The review system is fucked and not actually indicative of a game's quality; with the rare exception (Ghosts) reviews are a product of hype and marketing. Next up is Assassin's Creed; who wants to bet that there will suddenly appear from the woodwork a significant number of people "beginning" to experience series fatigue for that next year?Edited 2 times. Last edited November 2013 by gold163
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  • Avatar for twopenny #7 twopenny 3 years ago
    @touchofkiel You're absolutely right; I should have prefaced my comments with "innovations that appeal to me." I suppose eSports connectivity and functionality are probably the kind of innovations we're likely to see with regard to the multiplayer. I'm curious to see if any of the next-gen games will make waves with the CoD crowd, and if that will mean diminished sales for subsequent releases.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #8 MHWilliams 3 years ago
    @gold163 Well, I'm not part of that fatigue, since I haven't been playing the series. AC fatigue? I'm not sure I'll ever be there, that series is my jam.
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  • Avatar for Toplinkar #9 Toplinkar 3 years ago
    I don't share the hatred nor the love that most people do with this series, I played it even less than the reviwer, just a couple of hours on MW2 campaign on a friends laptop.

    The thing is, I see nothing particularly wrong with this game, but nothing that stands out either.

    As far as FPS go, I prefer Sci-fi ones. I loved Crysis, Deus Ex, Killzone and the like.

    I could give this game a try someday, but not on the PS3. COD has a history of running better on the xbox360, so if I ever give it a go, it will be on the PS4, but I'll most likely be too busy with Killzone to care about cod.
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  • Avatar for docexe #10 docexe 3 years ago
    @gold163 I wonder if the presence of the next gen consoles might have something to do with that. I honestly don’t care about the series and have not read any of the other reviews, but I wonder if next gen expectations and the promise of “innovation” that comes with them, with IW failing to deliver on that promise might have finally led reviewers to say “Ok, enough is enough!”
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  • Avatar for danger.to.others #11 danger.to.others 3 years ago
    That's interesting.
    USgamer says the campaign is 5 hours tops. IGN says it's over 10 hours and the longest single player campaign CoD has ever had. (5 hours would put it at the average length of all the CoD's).
    And then you take into account the one saying 5 hours admits to not playing FPS's very often, making it unlikely they were experts or running through it extra fast.

    Even further, the one over at IGN, that guy is supposedly a huge CoD fan, meaning if anyone could rush through it between the two reviewers, it'd be him.
    There's no way, by comparison, he'd not only be terrible at it, but double the hours it took to complete terrible.
    Somebody is lying.
    And I trust that someone is not Mike Williams, one of the most honest reviewers I've seen on the web.
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  • Avatar for Jaz_Rignall #12 Jaz_Rignall 3 years ago
    @danger.to.others Activision sent our review copy really late, and Mike was under the gun to get through the single-player game so he could write the review. So I think that probably motivated him to blitz through the game at speed. I think if we'd been sent it a week ago, we'd have probably gone through it slower and taken our time to look around.

    So maybe that's the reason there's a time discrepancy. 5 hours if you burn through it. 10 hours if you wander around, save your game, grab a donut, play a bit more, save your game, go for a smoke... ;)Edited November 2013 by Jaz_Rignall
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #13 MHWilliams 3 years ago
    @danger.to.others Thanks for the support! Here's a playlist of the entire campaign on Veteran so you can see for yourself. Their runtime was 4 hours. I just played on normal difficulty. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?feature=edit_ok&list=PLqOBC-W4IS_tiVREi0zOIVTAUisSvhU3xEdited November 2013 by MHWilliams
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  • Avatar for bigdsweetz #14 bigdsweetz 3 years ago
    I was going to purchase this until I found out that the campaign is only 4 hours long......yeah. Getting this on GF.
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  • Avatar for gamer0181 #15 gamer0181 3 years ago
    This is BY FAR the worst Call of Duty I have ever played. The graphics are so poor. I have been looking forward to this game for months. I can't believe they put this game out like this. It looks like a demo. World at War had better graphics. I have never seen so many negative reviews and comments for a Call Of Duty game like this one is receiving. BUT ITS DEFINITELY DESERVING. THIS GAME IS GARBAGE!!!
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  • Avatar for alecJ #16 alecJ 3 years ago
    @gamer0181 Im glad you said it so i dont have to....
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  • Avatar for alecJ #17 alecJ 3 years ago
    "Ghosts" is very much like a DLC add on to the worst Call of Duty game in the series, Modern Warfare 3. It plays, looks, and sounds like the game they put out a couple of years ago. Its clear that Infinity Ward has lost the ability to make a quality CoD. Maybe its time to give someone else a chance before they kill the series with another dud.
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  • Avatar for rocksteady13 #18 rocksteady13 3 years ago
    @danger.to.others Ign is always lying which is why I moved over here. If you want an honest ign score for a cod game take their total score and subtract it by 2 and it will give you a more accurate overall rating. IGN has become too influenced by it's advertising companies aka Activision, EA, and Microsoft!
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  • Avatar for grpoindshakre #19 grpoindshakre 3 years ago
    Hei guys check the new cod ghosts guide at http://codghostsguide.org/
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  • Avatar for GriffinDwarf #20 GriffinDwarf 3 years ago
    I think the devs of Infinity Ward focused more on the changes rather than improvement.

    Ghosts provide me lots of "firsts" such as first air gunfight, first underwater gunfight, and first manipulation of a dog.

    The graphics is not bad but I was somewhat expecting more. Maybe this has to do with the emergence of next gen consoles that Ghosts find it hard to "fit" in.

    However, still looking forward to more Ghosts in the future. And for those who are looking for a walkthrough, here's a good one: http://www.cheatmasters.com/blog/2013/11/05/call-of-duty-ghosts-guide/
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