So what is this mythical ‘Secret Sauce’ everyone talks about when it comes to highly addictive video games? Is it a single quality done perfectly, or is it a culmination of factors that create a deep and intriguing experience?
This is something that Activision seems to know a lot about because time and time again it cooks up a new title for the Call of Duty franchise that is just as addicting, if not more so, than the last. So out of curiosity and admiration for the astounding multiplayer platform, I accepted the invitation to the World Premier of the Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer.
Once I had arrived, I immediately saw a tremendously large banner with “Ghosts” and the infamous ghost mask on it, so I knew I was in the right place. After all the usual check-in and waiting period I was in an enormously large tent that had video screens everywhere with a countdown timer stuck right in the center. Classic Call of Duty theme music could be heard no matter where I was. Once the presentation had begun and CEO of Activision Eric Hirshberg appeared on stage, I could feel the tension in the room as myself and others hoped to witness a game that surpasses all of its predecessors. They took us through several descriptive trailers and all the details that make Ghosts purportedly different. It wasn't until I got hands on with the game that I could truly understand what Activision was trying to convey for an hour.
Once the main conference was over I was escorted into a room where there where countless gaming stations, each of which were equipped with a gaming chair, Turtle Beach headphones, a good sized flat screen television (roughly 32”), and a brand new Xbox One controller. Everyone with media passes was divided into one of two groups, Ghosts and Federation. After being selected to represent Federation I found my seat and proceeded to take advantage of all the new goodies at my disposal.
First off, I went straight into the improved character customization where I was able to change not only the face, skin color, body dimensions, head gear, and uniform of my soldier, but the gender as well. From there, I went to my load out screen where I was able to choose and adapt my gear and weaponry without any limitation, supposing I had a sufficient amount of points of course. I mention the points because with the new setup you are allowed to unlock and use any weapon or piece of equipment you want so long as you have the points for it. Also, you can take those points and place them wherever you want. This meaning that if you truly wanted to, you could have a soldier set with a single weapon and up to eleven perks to boost you ahead of everyone else. What Infinity Ward did was make it so there are over 20,000 different possibilities for each soldier/character you create. So after shopping through all of the goodies and debating on all of the weapons, including the 30 new weapons and the new category of marksman rifles, I was finally set to play the “new and improved” levels.
The first level I played was a large map covered in snow called ‘Whiteout’, and the game mode was one of their newest additions titled ‘Search and Rescue’. This game mode is very similar to the ‘Dog Tags’ mode, the difference is if you die a teammate can pick up your tags and revive you. However, if your tags are picked up by the enemy then you have to wait until the next round to respawn. So being super eager to play and venture through the new dynamic levels I went sprinting through the first door I saw, only to wind up falling to my death like the mistaken newb I was. Needless to say, I quickly learned from my mistakes and went on to begin slaughtering the competition, which was made thrilling by several new gameplay adjustments in the title. One is the ability to lean around corners instead of turning yourself into a walking target that screams ‘SHOOT ME’. There are no buttons you need to hit for this to work, so long as you are aiming down your sight as you approach a wall or corner, your character will automatically lean around so that a minimal amount is shown.
After the first round I had grabbed the attention of one of the developers from Infinity Ward who admired my comeback from the embarrassing, yet comical, plunge into the depths. I asked him about the new game modes and motion adaptations that they had added to the gameplay. He didn’t want to give me his name, but he did tell me that there were actually a lot more ideas that were brought forward to “enhance the gameplay and bring it from the boring old stuff to the next generation with a bang”. He continued to tell me that the biggest, most effective, and reliable adaptations were the cornering ability and the new knee slide that doesn’t require any perk to utilize. As we were talking he helped me tweak out a noob-tube (shotgun) for the next round, so once the new round started its countdown he told me to grab my headphones and “get in the game”.
Well, I listened, and to my disappointment I chose the wrong class before the game start. I immediately went into the menu to set my load out for when I died, but my character immediately changed over since I was still in the spawn area. Phew. I proceeded to run and gun, taking advantage of the precise new red dot sight I had installed. Unlike in games past, I was also able to see with my peripheral vision when aiming down sight so I could actually react quicker to someone attacking from my side. That along with my ability to quickly mount over obstacles to escape without losing my momentum like in prior games kept me alive.
So after I had racked up a reasonable amount of kills in the Team Death Match game mode on a new map, I received a kill streak which I knew nothing about, so naturally I pushed the button that screamed for my attention. Lo and behold I leveled the entire map. Oops. To my amazement Infinity Ward planned this all along with its new destructible environment system, a major feature delivered by the new engine. The map was leveled to nothing but debris and the fight continued on a much different desolate landscape. After so many deaths, I didn’t have to worry about death streaks because they have been removed. And in all honesty, I don’t think any of us appreciated someone else dropping a grenade after dying in previous games. That's a change for the better.
Truth be told, I did get owned a few times, but I still enjoyed the rapid responsiveness of the game, not to mention the easy to use mapping, character building, and loadout design. As far as that goes, the in game details were fantastic, especially the sound operations that have been designed to treat acoustics differently based upon indoor environments. The presentation was outstanding as well. Despite the game running at 60 frames per second there wasn't a single hitch.
I must admit after finding out that this game was not about Ghost from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 I was disappointed and not all that excited or ready to play another ‘copy and paste’ game. However, after seeing and experiencing what I did today, with the new altering maps and crisp gameplay, I have to say that as far as multiplayer games go this is the most remarkable game I have experienced this year. It appears that Infinity Ward has once again added that legendary 'Secret Sauce' to their newest game of the series: Call of Duty: Ghosts.