'Battlefield 4'

From: EA Games

Rated: M

Who it's for: Armchair generals, particularly those with shiny new-generation systems

Console: PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Grade: B+

First-person shooters provide a backbone for game consoles. Games such as "Call of Duty" appeal to a wide audience and consistently sell well.

Therefore, it really wasn't a surprise when this season's two biggest shooters — "Call of Duty: Ghosts" and "Battlefield 4" — managed to find their way to both old- and new-generation consoles.

But do these games offer enough of a reason to grab a new system, or are the versions for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 good enough?

"Battlefield 4" brings one major improvement to its new-generation versions: the inclusion of a 64-player multiplayer.

The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions support only 24-player battles, which, while still fun, aren't nearly as dynamic as their 64-player counterparts.

The 32-on-32 battles complement one of the game's big, new features — over-the-top destructibility.

Every map features set pieces both large and small that, when attacked, crumble and change everything from available protective cover to the path a team must take to navigate the terrain.

Buildings fall, dams burst, towers crumble — all resulting in dynamically changing conditions that you and your teammates must adjust to. This adds a level of realism to the game not found in most shooters.

Players control much of this destruction and can use these events strategically, if coordinated well.

The other major addition to "Battlefield 4" is Commander Mode, which returns from "Battlefield 2."

Commander Mode allows one player to take an overhead view of the entire map and issue commands to the rest of the team. Proficient commanders can make the difference in heated battles while those who communicate poorly will find themselves easily beaten.

The conflict in"Call of Duty: Ghosts" is set in South America.
The conflict in"Call of Duty: Ghosts" is set in South America. (Screenshot)

This brilliant returning mode should never be abandoned.

As with most "Battlefield" games, the single-player mode is mostly forgettable. Though it has been modestly improved from previous entries and is certainly worth a play, the meat here lies in multiplayer, plain and simple.

While graphics shine brighter on new systems, the draw remains the higher player count.

Those looking for a brilliant multiplayer game should definitely give "Battlefield 4" a try.

'Call of Duty: Ghosts'

From: Activision

Rated: M

Who it's for: Those looking for a better single-player experience without sacrificing multiplayer chops

Console: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U

Grade: A-

"Call of Duty" has always been a different sort of game than "Battlefield." A greater emphasis on single-player and multiplayer modes that concentrate more on style than scope have served the series well.

This year's entry, "Call of Duty: Ghosts," offers a new set of heroes and villains from the previous sub-series, "Modern Warfare" and "Black Ops."

The conflict this time comes from South America, with the United States being assaulted relentlessly by a faction of wealthy countries seeped in oil and, therefore, power.

The refreshing plot- and series-standard explosive set pieces make the game shine in single-player mode. The 10-hour-plus campaign is among the longest in the franchise.

The conflict in"Call of Duty: Ghosts" is set in South America.
The conflict in"Call of Duty: Ghosts" is set in South America. (Screenshot)

But, as with "Battlefield," multiplayer is the real draw.

The new Create a Soldier feature allows players to customize and save up to 10 characters, each with six load-outs, allowing you to choose the right character and class for each match on the fly.

Longtime "Call of Duty" vets will particularly appreciate the added flexibility this lends to online sessions and the ability to quickly choose a character based on map and game type, as well as the other players on your team.

Maps are larger and more dynamic, though they do not offer the level of destructibility as those in "Battlefield," and the five new game types increase the number of modes to 13.

All of these things help "Ghosts" maintain the series' strong multiplayer pedigree.

As with "Battlefield 4," the new-generation versions offer a higher player count in multiplayer, though in this case, the bump goes only from 12 to 18.

This actually represents a step back for the PS3 and Xbox 360, where some game modes used to allow the higher number of players. It seems as though these were cut back to make the new-gen versions seem more special.

However, the increase in graphic fidelity alone is enough to make the new-gen versions stand out.

"Call of Duty: Ghosts" might not innovate as much as the developers had hoped, but it does set a high bar for future shooters.