E3 2013: Behind Closed Doors With Call Of Duty: Ghosts
Infinity Ward is stepping away from the Modern Warfare story arc with its latest offering in the Call of Duty series, Ghosts. Visitors to E3 this year had the opportunity to finally see the game in action in the form of an eyes-on demo. The setting has changed, but it became evident pretty quickly that Ghosts won't be straying too far from the heavily beaten path of the long-running series.
We're told that, in Call of Duty: Ghosts, a massive event has brought the United States to its knees. Judging by what we see in the two sections of gameplay being shown off, it looks like said event involves a massive earthquake and a terrorist organization. Fingers crossed that said terrorist group, inspired by the nefarious acts of James Bond villains, is in some way responsible for the earthquake.
Running on a new game engine, the show began with a brief tech demo showing off how the team will be making Call of Duty: Ghosts look better than ever. Their new landscape tools allow the team to create surfaces more like what you'd find in the real world. The example shown displayed a bunch of river rocks as they would appear in previous games, given the illusion of having form while technically remaining a flat surface. With the new engine, the rocks become rounded, giving players actual terrain to traverse. A similar tool was utilized to demonstrate a smoothing effect, shifting the hard edges of a cliff into a more subtle, realistic surface.
The final bit of dealt with the game's lighting, showing off how, when moving from shadows into sunlight, the players vision will take a moment to adjust.
After that, it was off to the races with actual gameplay. In Ghosts, the player and his character's brother have joined a group of mercenary soldiers. Joining their team is Riley, that service K9 the team was so excited about during the Xbox 360 reveal event. But Riley is more than just an adorable companion in the first gameplay session, “No man's land.” The player can deploy Riley and keep track of his progress through a back-mounted camera. Riley can be used to recon a new area, be sent to attack and kill hostiles, clear a room or even bark to draw a guard's attention. The area we're exploring is apparently the protagonists' hometown, which was torn apart 10 years ago by that mysterious “event” we were talking about earlier.
In gameplay demo two, the team heads underwater in “Into the deep.” Sadly, Riley was not wearing a puppy wetsuit and joining the brothers for this particular leg of the journey. Instead, we watch as our fearless heroes swim through the murky deep, avoiding detection and killing enemies with an underwater assault rifle. Eventually the player deploys a remote controlled missile to take out an enemy ship, though controlling it consisted of guiding the thing in an almost perfectly straight line.
Despite the new tech and the interactions with Reilly, I didn't see anything that would lead me to believe that the series' formula is being changed in any dramatic or meaningful ways. The player still moved through tightly controlled settings where the strings that trigger various events are all but visible. You move a little. Someone tells you to “hold up” on the mike while enemies walk past. You move a little more. You take out small groups of enemies and move on. Occasionally there's a slow motion sequence that lets you carry out the shooting in more dramatic fashion. To be fair, these opinions are only being drawn from two fairly short sections of gameplay. It all looked nice, but I have to wonder what, exactly, will set Ghosts apart from Modern Warfare other than the new story.
If you're in the market for more Call of Duty, Infinity Ward looks to be delivering exactly that. I'm just hoping that between now and the game's Nov. 5 release date, I'll see something that makes me feel like this new war is worth fighting.
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