Scaling Venezuelan skyscrapers and lofty player expectations in ‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’

Infinity Ward is back. That’s the sales pitch for Call of Duty: Ghosts, at any rate. The Activision sequel machine straddles across two hardware generations in its 2013 appearance, but the time for reinvention is now. There’s a new story, a new cast of characters, a new near-future setting, and a ridiculously smart, armored dog. We still don’t know how doomed that poor pooch is, but IW’s behind closed doors demo offered a look at a canine-free level from the game that wasn’t shown in the recent gameplay reveal.


High-rise hell. The E3-exclusive look at “Federation Day” opens in downtown Caracas, Venezuela. You are part of a three-man squad tasked with breaking into a nearby high-rise for reasons that remain unclear. Rope launchers fired off from a neighboring rooftop create a zipline bridge to the target building. The squad crosses the gap silently, detaching from the launchers midway across to create rappel ropes on the other side. They slowly scale their way downward, scoring quiet individual and group kills through various windows as they pick apart the armed patrols on each floor.

Once inside, the trio makes its way to a server room where there’s a terminal holding what we can only assume is valuable secret data. The game fast-forwards ahead at this point in one of those “In the interest of time” sequences to a building in chaos. Something’s happened. The skyscraper is toppling over and our three soldiers are still on one of its upper floors. A few firefights break out as they make their way through the crumbling tower, though it quickly comes to an end when the screen cuts to black at a climactic moment.


It’s Call of Duty. It’s hard to say how different the controls might be in Ghosts, what with the E3 demo being an entirely hands-off affair. A longtime fan of the series can immediately pick up on a familiar sense of pacing to the action. Finer control tweaks – if there are any – may not pop out, but it seems that this plays just like any other Call of Duty game that we’ve seen in reent years, particular the Infinity Ward offerings. 


Pretty lights. It’s not clear exactly when development started on Call of Duty: Ghosts and when the newer hardware became a focus, but the fact that it’s a cross-gen title shows. The small details like light scattering and textures really pop in the Xbox One build powering the E3 demo, but the visual execution scream more “Call of Duty” than “dazzling next-gen.” It’s clear that this is still relatively rough code, particularly in earlier portions of the demo featuring Riley the dog. Character movements in general need to be polished up and Riley specifically looks awfully robotic.


Again though: early days. Plenty more to come here. This will almost certainly be the best-looking Call of Duty game to date, and you can get a sense of that even now with the unpolished demo. Expect plenty of improvements in the months to come as the game re-surfaces at subsequent trade shows.


The campaign portion of Call of Duty: Ghosts seems to deliver exactly what fans of the series would want. The sense of blockbuster spectacle dials straight up past 11 and the next-gen visual wizardry only enhances the immersiveness of what you’re seeing. With many months between now and the November 2013 release, and multiplayer elements still nothing more than a promised (and 100 percent expected) forward step, you can count on hearing much more about this game very soon.

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