Gamers who buy Call of Duty: Ghosts have a pretty good idea of the game just bought given the franchise’s yearly releases since 2006. As expected, the title features tight gameplay, the never ending sounds of gunfire, and warfare that results in the utter destruction of the built environment.
The single player campaign tasks the player with nothing less than saving the free world following the United States’ near annihilation by the Federation, a conglomeration of the North and South American continents as well as the Caribbean. The elite Ghosts squad acts as a small team that carries out missions with surgical precision against the Federation. The specific mission goals are the basis of more gameplay variety than repetitive arena setups that ultimately require explosively levelling the area. The missions range from underwater and space segments that control similarly, a helicopter fire fight, remote controlled sniping, rappelling, and the much hyped dog, Riley.
While Riley is only available for a few missions, the dog is an effective weapon that assisted me as a deaf gamer. Riley is a one-shot kill melee weapon similar to a combat knife takedown. Pressing the left bumper directs the dog to kill the enemy that the player is facing. When the left bumper is pressed, the target enemy is outlined in orange and Riley in blue. In the smoky, dusty landscapes mottled with grays and browns and no visual cues for audio clues, I often used Riley’s targeting for learning the enemy layout. By commanding Riley to kill in the vicinity of muzzle flash, the enemy is outlined in orange providing me with the needed visual to line up a kill shot before Riley reaches the target while I move onto highlighting the next enemy with Riley’s vision. Riley’s targeting is effective not only for exposed enemies but also for enemies in buildings and behind large objects such as trucks, which assisted me with avoiding my usual surprise deaths. With no kill cam in single player, finding the cause of death frustrated me in previous Call of Duty iterations. However, one fine motor difficulty with the Riley gameplay is using the left bumper simultaneously with both triggers and the analog sticks.
Additionally, the player uses a camera affixed to Riley to guide the dog for reconnaissance missions and enemy takedowns. In the Riley camera mode, enemies are outlined in white again as a visual cue for enemy locations. Subtitles are provided as an on/off option. Character dialogue is subtitled and includes a notation of who is speaking, with friendly names in green and enemies in red. No audio cues that are helpful during combat are subtitled, such as friendly soldiers yelling “Cover me,” “Got one,” and Riley barking at enemy locations.
The subtitles are white and lack the black background for readability. This is problematic with conversations held amidst gunfire, requiring ongoing gameplay while simultaneously reading white text that often blends into the environment.
Quick time events are present but are not overly complicated, typically requiring the player to press and hold X, press X repeatedly, or hold down the right analog stick. In the options, the controller layout is separately adjustable for the analog sticks and the buttons. The analog sticks allow for Southpaw, Legacy, and Legacy Southpaw controls, which focus on aiming the camera and character movement. For the button layout, the options are Tactical, Lefty, NOM4D, and NOM4D Tactical, which include all of the controller’s buttons from the face buttons to the D-pad to the bumpers and triggers.
The visuals are often murky color choices with an overabundance of one color in various gradients such as underwater blues, earthy browns and greens, or whites and blues for snowy landscapes. Crouching through such environments while explosions ring and soldiers shout often makes it hard to distinguish between soldiers, environmental objects, and oncoming RPGs. Regarding visuals, a colorblind filter is provided as an on/off option.
Oh, multiplayer. With Call of Duty: Ghosts Infinity Ward introduced Squad Mode. Squad Mode provides two main gameplay features.
One, players have immediate access to all upgrades, whether unlocking weapons, attachments, perks, or kill streak rewards. For disabled gamers, this feature removes the level grinding associated with rank-based unlocks. Instead, the upgrades needed to mitigate disability related gameplay concerns are available with the initial pool of squad points for unlocking needed items. Rather than grinding for higher multiplayer levels for gun stabilization or powerful short range kills or additional defenses, the disabled gamer can target the needed additions with their first available squad points.
Two, each player can unlock a squad of ten characters, effectively prestiging ten separate times rather than prestiging one character multiple times. The squads allow for Squad Mode, where players have the opportunity to practice in multiplayer choosing the desired difficulty level – recruit, regular, hardened, or veteran – and engage in either a competitive or cooperative mode. Other modes allow squads to compete against each other in a mix of squad members under AI control and human controlled players. While gameplay is still twitch based, the squad options provide RPG-like elements that expand the definition of success in multiplayer.
The modes with more objectives than “kill the opposing players” became my favorites. Blitz, Domination, and Kill Confirmed allow for points by scoring at the team’s flag in enemy territory or overtaking multiple flags scattered across the map, or collecting dog tags to confirm and deny kills. If, for whatever reason, I struggled with kills, I simply reverted to alternative methods for point collecting. The more traditional modes, such as Team Deathmatch, were more fun in maps where the smaller spaces let me quickly review the area, rather than in the larger, open maps where I struggled finding the enemy team.
Infected mode randomly infects one player who then respawns as an infected and spreads the affliction. By the round’s end, either all players are infected or one or more humans survived. I enjoyed the knife-based combat as an infected, but the gameplay was too fast paced for me to successfully earn a kill or avoid the growing number of infected. Whereas other fast-paced modes such as Cranked (in which the player has 30 seconds following a kill to kill again or the player explodes) force nearly all players to constantly respawn, which prevents constant domination by top players.
Extinction replaces zombies with aliens. Extinction is a separate multiplayer mode that includes its own leveling up system. Either alone or cooperatively, players destroy alien hives by drilling while fighting off attacking aliens. Successful kills net cash that can be used on the fly to buy useful items from weapons to explosives.
Call of Duty: Ghosts provides the expected bombastic experience that moves quickly onto the next gameplay experience. Some gameplay is more accessible than others, but the sheer variety provides options for disabled gamers to choose not only what their individual disability requires but what gameplay provides the most fun.
Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Partially Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
GameInformer Score: 8.00
The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Call of Duty: Ghosts
– Colorblind move available.
-Environments with gradient color schemes do not provide much visual contrast.
-Busy screen sometimes provides needed visual clarity and sometimes worsens the visual clarity.
-Controller layout options available separately for the analog sticks and the controller buttons.
– Quick Time Events not overly complicated.
– Gunplay is still twitch based.
– Different campaign weapons used for one level only constantly changes the needed controller input.
– Conversational and cinematic dialogue subtitled and tagged with the name of the speaker.
– Bullet direction provided visually.
-Audio cues not subtitled.
– Difficult to read subtitles that are lost in the busy background while simultaneously playing.
This article has been transferred from DAGERSystem (now AbilityPoints). Scores, formatting, and writing style may differ from original CIPT content.