Call Of Duty fans all set to catch Ghosts
A KEENLY awaited sequel to the blockbuster Call Of Duty video-game franchise is expected to rally armies of zealous players and rack up dizzying sales when it is unleashed today.
Call Of Duty: Ghosts promises devotees of the decade-old franchise new thrills and takes advantage of hot trends in extending console play online and to smartphones and tablet computers.
"The Call Of Duty franchise is a perennial favourite because it delivers Hollywood-grade pyrotechnics, online multiplay and the kind of replayability guaranteed to keep people coming back for months on end," said TekSavvy global video-game analyst Scott Steinberg.
The last version of the military-shooter game rocketed to the billion-dollar mark just 15 days after its release last year and Call Of Duty players have logged some 25 billion hours of online play overall, according to Activision.
"Call Of Duty: Ghosts plays out in a virtual United States devastated by a satellite weapons system turned against it by an enemy," said Activision vice-president of production Daniel Suarez in an interview.
"The United States is the underdog, we've been invaded. The player is a survivor joining the military to defend against invaders from the south."
Activision made it a priority to provide a gripping storyline with compelling gameplay that takes players into space and under water, according to Mr Suarez.
California-based Activision Publishing, which is owned by Activision Blizzard, will release Ghosts on PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo's Wii U and personal computers powered by Windows operating systems. Versions of the game will later be available on PS4 and Xbox One.
A new Call Of Duty app will let players use smartphones or tablets to tweak in-game characters or squads, schedule team matches and share accomplishments using social networks Facebook and Twitter.
Ghosts' features include letting players essentially create their own characters and gear "load-outs" to the extent that entire squads of customised soldiers can be marshalled.
Online options include cooperative play and pitting squads against one another. Real-life squad mates can trade places at any time with computer-generated soldiers infused with artificial intelligence.
One of the new twists expected to be a hit with players is an "Extinction mode".
"We've seen the things that worked in Zombies and Special Ops, and sort of wove them together to make this great alien bad guy," Mr Suarez said.
The global launch of Ghosts begins in Australia and will roll through the time zones, with about 15,000 shops overall expected to be open at midnight to allow fans to buy the game the moment the release day arrives.
"Everyone is excited," Mr Suarez said of the launch. "There is just so much energy going on."