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Call of Duty Ghosts: Multiplayer - Is there any point to day one reviews?

Seth Barton
5 Nov 2013
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Another year another game, is reviewing Call of Duty Ghosts like trying to review the Premier League?

The internet was swamped today with reviews for the new Call of Duty: Ghosts, reviews which covered the single-player, cooperative and multiplayer modes of the game. Eurogamer was one of the sites honest enough to point out beside its review that it was based on a 'review event'. It's a massive gaming site so it's safe to assume that this was the case for every site that has put up a review on day one.

It's worth stating at this point, that we weren't invited to said event, and had we been then we too would have posted a review as well today, the potential traffic alone would make that an unmissable opportunity.

Call of Duty Ghosts eurogamer

Eurogamer was up front about how it got to test the new game

It's worth discussing whether the multiplayer segments of these reviews can be given any serious credibility, and given that multiplayer is the key element for many Call of Duty players, whether that makes the act of reviewing the game in this way a little redundant. Even at a multi-day event, with all the modes to cover, a reviewer would have only scratched the surface of the multiplayer, and even then any serious balancing issues will likely be fixed quickly in patches.

Further to that, is there actually any point in trying to make critical judgement on the multiplayer at this point. It's a bit like trying to review FIFA every year, though there at least there's only one key part of the game to review, and reviewers are usually given a good amount of time to play it. Even then it takes a while for the balance of the new gameplay to settle down and for any exploits or problems to emerge. Again, it's worth looking at Eurogamer here, specifically at Tom Bramwell's excellent follow-up article to his FIFA 14 review.

NEW SEASON, SAME GAME

Going further you could argue that reviewing Call of Duty's multiplayer is like trying to review the Premier League itself every year. Yes, players may change, the offside rule may even have been tweaked again. But it's incredibly hard to say in August whether the season is going to be better, more exciting, more thrilling, than last years. And even if such predictions could be made, would anyone be cancelling their Sky Sports subscriptions in reaction.

There are those who will play the multiplayer element of the game, just for a few months or the full year until the next release, every year without fail. Personal circumstances are far more likely to effect whether someone is likely to buy this years game and get into the time-consuming multiplayer than the relatively small variations between titles.

LIMITED EDITION?

Maybe it's best then to simply accept that such reviews are more potted information, bullet-pointed highlights, rather than well considered critical opinion. Yes, it's possible that Infinity Ward could have broken the formula so badly that the public needs to be warned, but the inherent conservatism of the game makes that incredibly unlikely. And given the developer hasn't given anyone the couple of weeks of intensive play required to get a real feel for the game, reviewers are left in an impossible position.

Either Activision should loosen up and give reviewers the time they need to make a serious judgement on the game. Or reviewers (some, not all) should be clearer that some elements of the game are hard to properly critique in limited play sessions. Or maybe just admit that, like some Hollywood movies, some things are just critic-proof and leave any serious coverage until after the dust settles.

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