Review: Call of Duty Ghosts – Onslaught

Say what you will about the annual installments and mass-marketing of the product, but Call of Duty is not afraid to try new things.

Over the years, we’ve played out wars set in the past, wars based on present day conflict and even wars set in the future. We’ve been to space, we’ve taken out terrorists on the back of a gun boat, listening to ‘Gimme Shelter’ from the Rolling Stones and even assumed the guise of a terrorist in an airport shootout.

Whether it’s Infinity Ward or Treyarch, Activision are always open to reinvention. And that message is clearly defined in its first map pack for Ghosts.

Onslaught is now available for Xbox 360 and Xbox One and is the first part of the Call of Duty: Ghosts Season Pass. The DLC contains the traditional four maps, along with a new gun, and the first episode of a four part Extinction narrative.

FOG

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This map takes the franchise in a creepier new direction. Clearly created for horror film fanatics, this small to medium sized map opens up opportunities for multiple styles of play. Whether you like to run around knifing, picking off long-range shots, or going in assault-rifles blazing, there’s accessibility for everyone.

Fog is set in an isolated forestry area next to a nearby swamp with several lone cabins scattered about throughout. Several winding trails guide the player around, illustrated by twisted, decrepit trees and thorny bushes that lead into dark cobwebbed caves and abandoned shacks filled with tools caked in blood. You’ll even notice the occasional will-o-the-wisp that seems to tease the player all over the map, suggesting that other-worldly forces are prominent and forceful within the area.

As a standard, you’ll play Kill Confirmed on Fog (as with all of the maps in Onslaught). The mode plays out really well on the map, though you’ll generally have your tags collected the moment you die due to the confined combat spaces.

The central point of the map is in a master cabin, open to entry through several access points, including a lobby full of stuffed animals and cages, and a run-down upstairs area with pulled up floorboards and mattresses matted with blood stains.

There are windows available for sniping opportunities, but the rear area is completely exposed to those coming up from the conservatory or through the main living area.

Fog is full of lots of subtle touches, each area telling its own unique story. For instance, a stuffed monkey has a cigarette in hand. On a splintered old bedside table, a vase of roses look as if they’ve been freshly watered every day. Right next to them is a shattered wine glass with a note. There’s even a carved pumpkin head next to a cave door, lit up with candles for that extra added Halloween effect.

Oh, and did I mention you can play as Mike Myers? Yeah, really. In the theme of cheesy B-Roll Horror movies, you just need to collect a Field Order, then be fortunate enough to receive the Mike Myers care package. As Myers, you can run around the map with a hatchet, taking an ungodly amount of damage and sprinting faster than anyone else. And because the map is so tight on corners, a hatchet wielder can be devastating.

You’ll know Myers is coming when you hear the Halloween theme tune playing in the background. It’ll take a bit of a team effort to bring the big man to his knees, but once you have, the feeling of satisfaction cannot be denied.

Other areas for breakout battles, include a verge overlooking a camper van. There is opportunity to snipe from the verge, but again, much like the upper area of the cabin, it’s highly vulnerable with paths leading up to it from either side, as well as the ability to use the Camper Van as cover and take pot-shots.

Just before the end of the battle, an orange hue envelops the land, casting everything in a mist. Of course, this makes it harder to see your opponents. An environmental hazard that could definitely be a game-changer in a close-run skirmish.

Fog is an ominous, yet fun map. It’s a creative playground, ripe for close-run battles and a fresh haven for familiar gametypes. This is my personal favourite.

4/5

BayView

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And now for something completely different. A seaside town. Players fight it out on a small marina boardwalk, full of touristy frivolity. One thing Onslaught can be commended on is its focus on variety.

But this tourist attraction has been rundown with the threat of war. Sure, the gift shop is still in-tact and you can grab a coffee if you’re desperate, but this would-be Weston Super Mare is solely populated by you, your team mates and those trying to kill you.

BayView is incredibly small. You’ll practically spawn in each others laps and gunfire will break out almost instantly. There aren’t many places to hide. The barricade by the waterfront is entirely exposed and the tourist section of the map is full of sharp corners and turns. Even the metal detectors in shops will sound as you move between them, immediately revealing your location. Genuinely, there’s nowhere to hide.

In a neat touch, a Tram traverses around the map, taking you from Point A to B, back and forth. It’ll beep if you get too close, thus giving away your position to the enemy, but you can also hop aboard and pop a few shots out. But unless you’re prone, your head is exposed and easy prey for snipers and twitchy trigger fingers.

BayView is, unquestionably, the most gorgeous map in the pack. Wispy clouds seductively conceal the sun, glimmering light reflects off the water and the waves eb and flow majestically. Sure, we’re not talking Black Flag next-gen quality water here – the shadow textures are bitty and the water is stiff and less free-flowing when compared to Ubi’s pirate-em-up – but it remains mesmerising and relaxing to look at.  There’s also the mini aquarium further into the tourist section, full of roving fish and blossoming plant-life. Their motions will likely keep you fixated for a few seconds. Probably enough to make you an easy target for a charging knifer.

Looking out at the sea, in the distance you can see a magnificent ship battle. Pillows of smoke rise high above the clouds. Helicopters quickly fly past, rockets trailing their movements as they hope to escape. Meanwhile, a giant cruiser seems to be on course to dock at the resort ready to blow it to pieces with overwhelming firepower. It’s almost all a nod and a wink to the campaign in Battlefield 4. Almost.

BayView is a beautiful distraction, but it’s also an intense, quick-draw, quick-fire playground of a map. Whether you’re juking it out on the jetty or tearing it up near the tram, BayView is full of short, sharp, exchanges. It won’t be the most popular Onslaught map, but it will make for an occasional adrenaline-inducing romp all the same.

3/5

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Containment

At first, Containment gives off the impression of being a very traditional Call of Duty map. Back-alleys with several entrances, windows overlooking wide open spaces, shops and houses you can run through. All the classic traits that have defined the run and gun gameplay over the years.

But things quickly start to change. For starters, you’ll notice a few doors which are rife for breaching. These doors normally serve as nice alternative entrances to open up the field of battle in a well-visited area.

There’s a Cathedral with overtuned pews, again serving up nice cover opportunities when contesting against an individuals firing from the entrance way or the speaker’s space.

And then there’s a bridge with an overturned radioactive truck in the centre. Stand too close and your mini-map will completely distort, as will your field of vision. Ironically, this bridge serves as the central point of the map and is likely where most of the action will take place.

Fortunately, there’s also an underflow where you can duck behind pillars and piled up debris. Though if you take the low road, you’ll be watching your back, as well as in front of you and to the left. Even high above you.

Containment is the most complete map in the pack, in terms of the diversity in combat opportunities, how wide-spread it is, and the unique environmental effects on your character. It’s a solid inclusion that won’t stand out as an overwhelming favourite, but will probably see the most playtime when it comes to online action.

3.5 / 5

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Ignition 

The big news for Modern Warfare 2 fans is that Scrapyard is back. One of the game’s best maps, Scrapyard offered players the chance to duke it out at a supposedly abandoned launch facility. I say supposed, because right at the beginning of the battle, a mammoth rocket takes off on a one way ticket to space. Who set that off then, eh?

Some routes have slightly changed and there are added walkways to balance out the flow of battle for some of the game’s newer modes.

Graphically, Ignition sees a big upgrade over Scrapyard. Obviously taking advantage of the HD power of Xbox One, the map looks better than ever, with added weather effects and conditions that fans will remember and love. Whether they’re admiring a torn, burned American flag flapping in the wind or the ash particles and smoke clouds descending on their position from the launch, these slight touches really pay homage to a battleground that has seen plenty of use over the years.

Outside the Odin launch centre, the lobby Is ripe for battle, and the upstairs area adds to it, offering up multiple points of entry with nowhere to hide. There’s also a newly added secret bunker and stretches of lengthy corridors that are going to make knifers and shotgun junkies very happy. Sure to create some tense, butt-clenching gameplay moments that will look ferocious on a Killcam.

Faithfully restored and recreated, Scrapyard has never been better and gives Ghosts a real must-play map for multiplayer. Whether you’re a MW2 vet or not, Ignition is a welcome sight and still relevant and open to an incredible amount of tactical opportunities.

4/5 

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Nightfall

The Ghosts Season Pass comes complete with its own narrative through Extinction episodes. The first episode, Nightfall, sets the scene for a terrifying excursion into experiments that should never have been conducted.

In the hidden snowy plains of Alaska, Samantha Cross risks her life to tell the player that she has been a coder on a secret project looking at Alien Life. Alien samples were smuggled out of a Colorado outbreak site for investigation and things have got out of control. The Operation mostly continues in secret, but the player is enlisted as part of a task force to cripple it.

The mission is set 14 weeks after the Colorado Outbreak and from the opening moments, you can see how quickly these lifeforms have grown. The sight and size of them is terrifying. And good news? You’ll be fighting them in moments.

Alien hives are scattered across the base and your job is to pick up a drill and use it to destroy each of them individually. The moment you do that, however, you disturb the underground alien life and en-masse,they’ll attempt to attack and destroy it. Your job is to protect the drill while it does its job, fortifying it with miniguns, barricades, tricks and traps. And your bodies.

Each wave will come with its own preset condition. It could be the player will be tasked with only killing scouts with melee, or not reloading their gun for a full minute. Players may also be asked not to spend money during the whole altercation. While the mission won’t fail, if you don’t manage to complete the condition, you will miss out on extra XP and money for not doing it.

Each kill nets you money, and that can be spent to buy weapons littered around the area, or on hazards, such as electrifying a nearby fence. You can also upgrade your existing artillery, giving yourself a better pistol with faster reload, better accuracy and higher damage output, or by making yourself more durable in the face of attack.

The enemies are all aliens, and vary in size, speed and power. Some will teleport around the screen, evading your every shot. Others will attempt to pummel you into the ground. Some will ignore you completely and go straight for the drill.

Beat all the hives in one area and a boss is summoned. This beast is ferocious and will be accompanied by a large wave of enemies that will keep respawning until he is defeated. Several bosses will appear through a campaign and you’ll need to beat them all to outlast the mission.

Also, within the area are hidden intel files which give the player a deeper insight into the story. All of these can be viewed from the menu screen in order to give the player some background on Colorado and Alaska.

Nightfall is a great ride. You’ll try to outdo yourself all the time in order to see it through to its conclusion and improve your high score. But you’ll also be pleasantly surprised and find yourself becoming invested in the story, wanting to learn more, hoping for a hint on what’s coming in the next Ghosts map pack.

Extinction was already a fun mode, but the Nightfall narrative definitely sets up some entertaining story moments for future DLC, with the action diverse enough to keep us hooked throughout.

4/5

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Overall

4/5

Ghosts was far from the safe option for Infinity Ward. Modern Warfare 4 would have sold a truckload, but IW dared to be different. That message remains in Onslaught. From the wacky to the sublime, to the all-out awesome, this map pack has everything and will go down as one of the best Activision have released to date. They’re certainly not running short on ideas. If Onslaught is anything to go by, they’re just getting started.