E3 2013: Call of Duty: Ghosts – New Tech, same thing

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Even though it might not really have quite as new an engine as they say, I was actually impressed when I got to see Call of Duty: Ghosts up close during a behind closed doors session at E3. while it does, yes, look like another  Call of Duty game, some of the next-generation refinements actually managed to tickle my technical fancy.

The most notable ones – other than y’know, realistic fish movement – are real-time tessellation and displacement mapping. What that does, is add depth to what would usually be rather flat looking textures. In the tech demo we were shown, the differences are pretty astounding, with simple things like rocks actually look like different rocks, with different sizes and depths; actual geometric fidelity. Yes, this is the sort of stuff that’s been available on PC’s through DirectX 11 for ages, but it’s really nice to seem them on console now too.

SubD, or Subdivision surfaces, is another neat technical trick that uses recursion, subdividing polygons over and over again to give the approximation of genuinely smooth surfaces. It’s most noticeable in the game when looking through a scope – which now appears to be perfectly round. Polygonal circles have always been a bit of a gaming  pet-peeve of mine, and it’s nice to see that that’ll be going away.

In addition to that, Call of Duty will finally be getting proper lighting in the way of volumetric lighting, Bloom and HDR. And it’s about time, honestly.

After running through some of the new tech, we got to see the game in action – and save for one section, those bits have already been shown to the public. Here they are.

The bit that we press got to see, that you haven’t is actually significantly more exciting than what’s been shown so far – and it left me keen to actually play the game.

Called Federation Day, the level starts off high up in the skyscrapers on the eve of Venezuela’s..err, Federation Day. the player and his team (sans dog!) are atop a skyscraper while fireworks light up the night sky. Yes, it’s time for zip-line launchers, and other cool ways of getting across the tops of buildings.

Once across to the other side – a building populated with bad guys (obviously!) it was up to the player and his team to infiltrate the building by rappelling down the side, cutting holes in the windows and very sneakily killing off inhabitants on that floor, one by one. The object of the mission was to get in to the building as quietly as possible, and take out a number of servers before hauling ass right back out. Unfortunately, it seemed things didn’t quite pan out as planned, and an “in the interest of time” fast forward later, it seems the building’s gone up in flames and exploded a little prematurely – and the building’s essentially falling apart – leaving our hero in a bit of a tricky predicament.

What it reminded me of, surprisingly, was the more stealthy and strategic Rainbow Six – and  that’s a good thing. While Ghosts still looks, and largely plays like a Call of Duty game, there are a number of elements that have me itching to play it.

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Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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