When the weight of an orbital superweapon is brought to bear upon several key cities across the United States, the country spends the next decade embattled with the oil-rich South American Federation who have successfully conquered both Central America and the Caribbean.
It’s a gritty narrative, taking you from the tropical climbs of the Amazon, the harsh cold of Antarctica, and to the neon sights of Las Vegas, seeing you eventually join the titular Ghosts squad, survivors of a Tier 1 strikeforce who endured insurmountable odds by taking position beneath their fallen comrades.
Your relentless pursuit of former Ghost turned traitor, Gabriel Rorke, is a bombastic tale full of twists and surprising turns, yet largely feels like a backward step from the branching storylines to be found within Treyarch’s Black Ops II last year. As the tenth entry within the globally popular series, Call of Duty: Ghosts shows that the high-octane experience is starting to become fraught with creative tiredness, a paint by numbers that, despite technical advances and the introduction of a loyal German Shepherd as a canine companion, feels far too safe altogether and failing to match its daring plot.
That’s not to say that there aren’t enough of the series’ signature blockbuster moments where you will feel in awe of the spectacle. Whether running down the side of a skyscraper or fighting your way through a city being ravaged by a burst dam, it is the game’s apocalyptic opening that clinches your attention right from the get-go as you witness the Orbital Defense Initiative (ODIN) space station become hijacked by Federation forces.
It’s multiplayer that has long been the most significant draw that the Call of Duty series has, and Call of Duty: Ghosts is no different. This is seemingly where far more attention has been placed, delivering new game types such as Blitz, which sees teams use changeable portals to capture an enemy flag, and the ridiculously frantic Cranked, where whenever you kill an enemy you have 30 seconds to secure another before your character blows up. If that sounds far too high adrenaline for you and you’d rather stick to what you know, then the standard classics return including Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed and Free-for-All.
Whilst the Wii U still attracts a smaller, dedicated Call of Duty community in comparison to other platforms, I had no trouble in finding other players to join across multiple game types, with the Nintendo Network performing amply to keep the bullets flying with no untoward issues, which average between 8-12 players per session.
Call of Duty: Ghosts last addition is Extinction mode, players working co-operatively to defend against an alien invasion. It’s a playful riff on Treyarch’s Zombie mode that works well, although I must admit to preferring Infinity Ward’s previous challenge-orientated Spec Ops effort.
Customisable multiplayer characters see the series at last cater to female players who wish to make their presence known, whilst strike packages and perks return for you to tweak you combatant to suit your own combat style.
And, for those wondering, Wii U GamePad integration is most notable in multiplayer, the controller’s touchscreen providing a detailed map overview, as well as quick access to loadouts, whilst Off-TV Play will be welcomed by those wanting to rank up at every opportune moment. Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk support also deserve a mention, the point-and-click control scheme that it provides is unique to the Wii U version, and still yet to be sported by competitor consoles.
Call of Duty: Ghosts provides the solid gung-ho experience that fans know and love, continuing to remain unrivalled on Wii U. Whilst the campaign lacks the creative spark to elevate it beyond the ceiling the series continues to thrash against, those who invest their time within the game’s multiplayer offerings will find plenty to pour their energy into.