Call of Duty is a franchise known primarily for its multiplayer offerings, as the campaigns offered in the series are usually considered to be basic tutorials for what’s to come in multiplayer, most seasoned players would say. However, with recent rumors for Call of Duty: Ghost flying around, I got my detective hat on and did a little background search on Ghost, one of the main characters from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, who also happens to be a fan favorite.

While most gamers’ expectations are decidedly low for the next Call of Duty campaign, we always have our hopes that Activision may do something interesting with the next iteration in the Call of Duty series. Black Ops II felt like a small step forward for Call of Duty campaigns, offering brief moments of player choice and increased flexibility that we would love to see expanded even further in future games. Below, you will find a summary of Ghost’s troubled life before he joinined up with Colonel Shepard and met his eventual his doom during the events of Modern Warfare 2. If Activision were to make a campaign focusing directly on the lifeline of Ghost, it could be quite the emotional and memorable campaign in a world filled with generic FPS shooters. Don’t get your hopes up, though; This IS Call of Duty that we’re talking about, a series with an annual release cycle and an intent for mass market appeal.

If you haven’t already, reading the graphic novel series Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: Ghost will give you much more insight into the character of Simon “Ghost” Riley. If what you read below piques your interest, we highly recommend you give it a read.


The first mission depicted in the series has a captured Special Ops soldier wearing a skull-patterned balaclava in a classroom filled with children of a Ukrainian school that has been taken over by terrorists (who threaten to kill one child each hour if their demands are not met). The soldier passes the time by telling a story of his friend, Simon “Ghost” Riley on a mission in Mexico. The SAS loaned “Ghost” to USSOCOM to bust a heroin cartel that has recently begun smuggling terrorists into the U.S. This mission takes place on the Mexican holiday, “Day of the Dead”, when Riley and the others wear skull facepaint and skeleton costumes to blend in with the celebrating crowd at the party in which the leader of the Heroin Cartel is throwing.

During Modern Warfare 2: Ghost #2 it is revealed that Ghost and his team are captured by the Mexican cartel, and during their captivity they endure continuous torture and brainwashing techniques in order to be used as hired guns for various criminal and terrorist groups. Throughout this ordeal the reader sees flashbacks of Riley’s early life, from his childhood and how he had to endure an abusive fiend of a father. To his early years in the SAS and how he, after coming back from his first tour of duty in Afghanistan on January of 2003, takes care of his abused mother and helps clean up his drug-addicted younger brother named Tommy. In March of 2004 he finally puts an end to his father and in June of 2006 Riley is seen as best man at his brother Tommy’s wedding, who is now completely free of drugs. During these flashbacks, many of Riley’s adversaries are seen wearing “ghostly” makeup (presumably a hallucination of Riley) of similar style to that worn by participants in the Day of the Dead celebration. Eventually, the USSOCOM members Sparks and Washington are able to escape, having learned that the Mexican cartel plan to kill them due to the fact they can not break them down, but are forced to leave Riley behind. Moments later, Riley is buried alive with the decaying corpse of Major Pezz.

At the start of Modern Warfare 2: Ghost #3 By using Vernon’s lower jaw bone Riley digs himself up from the grave, which took him thirteen hours, and later found by a Texas sheriff. The story then jumps to December 18th 2010, Riley is being debriefed about his experience to his superiors. Physically Riley is fine, but his superiors fear that his mental state is still in question. Riley has nightmares everytime he sleeps, with Roba haunting and taunting him. While spending Christmas with his family, Riley gets a surprised visit from Sparks. While having a beer together at a local pub, Sparks and Riley rehash old times and their experience during those hellish months in Mexico. Sparks tells Riley that he and Washington are getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan.

As they are walking back home Sparks approaches a young woman he previously saw at the pub and tries to sweet talker to bed, the young woman is not impressed. Angrily Sparks knocks the woman out, and orders Riley to help him get her inside her house so that they can rape her. Riley secretly calls the police, and they arrive just before any harm could be done to the woman, forcing Riley and Sparks to retreat. Once they both arrive at Spark’ hotel room, Riley suspects that Sparks is up to something and when he finally pieces together the clues Sparks points a gun at Riley’s head. Riley immediately disarms Sparks, and interrogates him. Sparks reveals that he and Washington have been working for Roba, showing that they had been successfully brainwashed, but before Riley could get any more information Washington arrives from a task and attempts to gun down Riley. Riley escapes by jumping through Sparks’ hotel window, slightly injuring his leg, and steals a cab to make his get away. Remembering what Roba said about his family, Riley speeds towards his family’s home and witnesses a shocking display. His mother, brother Tom, Tom’s wife Beth, and his nephew Joseph have all been executed, no doubt by Washington himself. In the end Riley claims that he will kill them all; Sparks, Washington, Roba and his entire organization.


So what do you think, single players? Could Activision use this story as a basis for a game focused on the character of Ghost? If the rumors surrounding Call of Duty: Ghost end up being true, this could be an exciting and unique entry in the Call of Duty series based on the premise alone.

It’s more than likely Activision will take the easy and ‘safe’ way out by opting a create a generic FPS experience under the Call of Duty name, but hey, Black Ops II had some very dark moments within its campaign and introduced a more personal story around characters such as Menendez and the Mason family, so maybe a story-focused game in the series is not totally out of the question.

Nick Calandra
OnlySP founder and former site owner.

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  1. This franchise deserves to die, period.

    1. Too bad it won’t

      1. You sound so disappointed

  2. Well, the truth is there is no military campaign (Killzone, Resistance, Battlefield, Medal of Honor, Homefront) that’s superior to a Call of Duty campaign. More enemies on screen, actual civilian NPCs during combat, telling an entire story in the first person which make it more personal. How is laying waste to an entire Russian airport, slitting the throat of sleeping Vietnamese, or shooting in zero G on a crashing airplane ‘training for multiplayer’? Starhawk’s campaign, that was training for multiplayer. At least, the devs attempt to put you in unique situations never done in the first person. You can’t compare a game like CoD to Bioshock. It’s like playing Mario Kart and wanting it to be Gran Turismo. CoD is what it is and it’s the best at what it does.

    1. I’m with you on this one. The Unreal Tournament games, whose single-player campaigns are just a series of bot-matches… now THOSE can be considered preparation for multiplayer. CoD’s set pieces and frantic shootouts, meanwhile, feel like a genuine attempt by the devs to make something cool and exciting.

      I’m not saying CoD is perfect, but the campaigns are still miles better than other copy-cat attempts like Homefront, Battlefield 3, MoH, etc, as you said. I always found them polished and energetic enough to be quite enjoyable even during subsequent playthroughs.

      Oh yeah, the whole Ghost campaign thing. I’d love to see a game like that, since I think the facemask wearing brit has enough intriguing backstory behind him to make an engaging story.

      1. The first Medal of Honor (2010) had a great campaign, at least in my opinion. And the words about the Call of Duty campaign being training for mp, is coming from the mouths of the people who play the game, not me. That’s all I ever seem to see when reading comments about Call of Duty’s campaign.

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