Call of Duty: Ghosts
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Call of Duty: Ghosts is a gritty, military first-person shooter with constant and intense gun battles. Characters bleed and scream when struck by bullets, leaving crimson smears on the environment. Players also can attack enemies with knives in visceral close-quarters combat. There are no navigational problems, and there's no puzzle solving. The game focuses solely on frenetic combat, wherein quick reflexes and teamwork (in online play) reign supreme. The soldiers -- Americans fighting off foreign invaders -- are clearly cast as heroes, but virtually all their actions revolve around violence, and they often seem to take pleasure in their work.
What's it about?
Set mostly in the near future, CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS starts a new story line in the Call of Duty universe. America has been devastated by a flurry of kinetic missiles launched from space, and many of her greatest cities now lie in ruin. Players take on the role of a soldier working with what's left of the military to protect the now crater-pocked landscape from advanced forces encroaching from South and Central America. Action takes place in a variety of imaginative locales, ranging from the submerged wrecks of old ships to satellites floating in space. Players will also scale skyscrapers, fight through a flood, and pilot an assault helicopter.
Outside the campaign are three additional modes: the series' traditional, competitive multiplayer mode (which is where most players will spend their time), a new mode called Squads that pits players against computer-controlled opponents, and the alien-themed Extinction, a co-op mode for up to four players that involves finding and destroying alien pods scattered over a rural landscape.
Is it any good?
Call of Duty: Ghosts looks amazing, especially played on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. But it's not the game's graphics that impress so much as its depth and breadth of play. The campaign may be short and feature scenarios that strain belief (like zero-gravity space gunfights wherein you can get hit by bullets without decompressing), but most players will finish it in one or two nights and then spend weeks or months playing online multiplayer, which offers plenty of substantive evolutions that range from better-balanced combat rewards that don't drastically tip the odds in one team's direction to visually spectacular events that completely alter entire maps in seconds.
If traditional multiplayer doesn't interest you, there's Squads. Squads offers several new ways to play, like Safeguard, a mission type that has players defending against waves of increasingly skilled, computer-controlled enemies. And Extermination mode, with its class-based play that forces players to rely on each other to perform specific roles -- such as healer or resupplier -- may be the best cooperative experience yet produced in a Call of Duty game. That said, it would have been nice had the developers figured out a way to make online play a bit less off-putting for new players. Rookies with little experience likely will be creamed relentlessly for weeks or even months until their reflexes are honed and they become intimately familiar with the maps, weapons, and character-upgrade systems. Newbies can enjoy themselves a little playing against the game's computer-controlled bots until they've got the skills necessary for online play.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Is there any difference between a series like Call of Duty, which depicts humans shooting other humans using realistic weapons in familiar settings, and other violent games with more fantastic scenarios?
Families also can discuss the depiction of women in games. This is the first Call of Duty to allow players to create female avatars in multiplayer mode. Do you think this empowers women, or does it feel strange to think that players will now have the ability to shoot and stab female characters?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Subjects: Social Studies: geography, power structures
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Activision
- Release date: November 5, 2013
- Genre: First Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.