Cancel your evening's plans. Tell your mates to cancel theirs as well. Call of Duty: Ghosts has arrived, and it's laden with more addictive fragging action than ever before.
We spent a considerable amount of time battling against the devious Federation, respawning, testing multiplayer modes and respawning yet again at a recent sneak peek of Ghosts. We suffered countless embarrassing deaths to find out just what you can expect from the latest Call of Duty.
1. Riley is man's best friend
One character is going to steal the show for Call of Duty: Ghosts - Riley the dog. He already has his own Twitter parody ("I hate cats, Battlefield, and the Postie"). Brilliantly animated (thanks to several hours spent with a German Shepherd called Ruger in a motion capture suit), Riley can be called upon to watch your back in multiplayer as a pointstreak reward (which replace killstreaks). You also get to take control of the pooch in the single player, stealthily taking down sentries before playfully pulling out their throat. You don't get to play fetch.
2. The bad guys aren't Russian
Ghosts introduces the Call of Duty series to a new world in which the USA is no longer the major super power. Various countries of South and Central America have banded together to form the fiendish Federation - giving you the chance to actually understand what your opponents are saying on the battlefield, so long as your Spanish is up to scratch (we didn't have much Russian).
3. Shooting guns in space is just super
Again, we don't want to spoil the story, but the outer space sequence of Ghosts is immensely enjoyable. The controls aren't fiddly, and zero gravity is great fun. Do we understand the science of it? No. Do we mind one bit? No. Here's hoping some deep space multiplayer maps arrive in 2014.
4. Interactive moments have improved
Call of Duty has long been an advocate of interactive cut scenes, or breaks in the usual flow of gameplay to hammer at a button in order to escape death in controlled events. Ghosts is no different, but these moments have been refined, reduced of their 'clunk' and present some genuinely challenging sequences - which we won't spoil for you.
5. The zombies are dead
Ever since World at War, Call of Duty has added a delightfully horrific twist to its titles with zombie game modes. Despite a somewhat appropriate title, Ghosts has done away with zombies (for now?), replacing them with invading aliens in the new Extinction mode. Extinction is all about cooperation, with teams of four (Weapon Specialist, Tank, Engineer and Medic) having to activate and protect drill sites to destroy alien hives. It won't be as popular as a standard death match, but it's an inventive addition to the series.
6. It looks best on PlayStation 4
We got to see the game running on all current and next generation consoles. Yes, the difference between 1080p and 720p is minimal, and something for the fanboys to get thoroughly irritated about. But in our eyes, Ghosts did look that little bit shinier, that little bit slicker, like a true 'next gen' title, on the PlayStation 4.
7. The plot is as cheesy as ever
From pop's old ghost stories to the ultimately predictable plot twists, the single player story of Ghosts is as robustly cheesy as ever. The characters are straight out of the standard US hero handbook, and the second act begins to creak once the character-driven story ebbs away, but don't worry, because...
8. The multiplayer is as brilliant as ever
...if you're anything like us, you don't buy Call of Duty games for the single player experience. While the campaign is a polished affair, the multiplayer is where Ghosts shows off its lethal edge. The combat is beautifully balanced with heaps of weapons to master, and games to zip along in the blink of an eye - even if you spend far too much time getting shot by someone you never saw, you still manage to enjoy yourself. It's impossible to say no to "just one more game".
We tip our hats to Infinity Ward. Call of Duty: Ghosts is a remarkably impressive title, enhancing and building upon the series best aspects to create a game that feels that little bit deadlier, and dare we say it, that little bit more mature. If we gave it marks, we'd probably say 8/10.
See you on the battle field.