Another year, another COD, right? It is the one thing you can always count on to terrify publishers from releasing on the same date which makes the week’s purchasing decision a pretty easy one. You’re either getting Call of Duty or you’re not. There aren’t other games to even consider. But with this being the umpteenth release of the blockbuster franchise, how does it live up to previous years and even more importantly, how does it compare to the hype?
With their being three developers in the rotation now for the Call of Duty franchise, Sledgehammer enters the fray with a new IP with the Advanced Warfare story. A drastically different tone than either Black Ops 2 or Ghost, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare follows the world of the privatized military which are effectively government sanctioned mercenaries. As seen by all of the marketing materials, this corporation known as Atlas is headed up by the one and only Kevin Spacey and the role he takes as the player’s surrogate father after his own son is killed in combat.
Without giving too much information about the story, it follows pretty much every one of the expected beats. It’s not that it’s bad, but it is not going to surprise anyone either. It’s like going into a summer blockbuster that has no need for plot twists. It has a ton of polish and explosions that prevent you from having to think too hard.
That said, the flow of Advanced Warfare is much smoother and feels far less ridiculous than Call of Duty: Ghosts did last year. While it still contains some fantastic elements, such as the use of the United Nations and Spacey’s character Jonathan Irons’ interactions with them, the story does feel more grounded than Ghosts. Even the near future technology seems creepily reasonable that it could be happening soon enough.
In terms of gameplay, the controls are as tight as ever and surprisingly the addition of verticality to the game is incredibly intuitive and feels natural. The thrusters which effectively allow players to double jump to higher regions of the stage completely changes the feel of multiplayer especially through the use of Exo suits. While certain perks such as silenced steps or increased health or shields feel like nice character bonuses, it is the movement that completely makes players rethink their strategy in traversing a level. While corridors used to only have four directions to worry about, this new movement status quo makes skilled players rethink their strategy similar to the way Titanfall did. Unlike Titanfall, the ongoing reward structure for Call of Duty’s multiplayer gives players a reason to keep returning rather than just an arena shooter.
One standout to the gameplay is the Combat Readiness Program which may be the most enjoyable way for new players or even non-hardcore players to enter Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare‘s multiplayer mode. The mutliplayer mode is strictly Team Deathmatch that contains both real human players and bots. The mics are turned off as well as Gamer Tags, custom loadouts, experience, levels and kill cam replays. Instantly, the barrier to entry drops. Players are able to take more than two steps without being sniped or being talked down to for being a newbie. It is actually the most relaxing multiplayer experience outside of Destiny’s cooperative campaign of this generation.
An unexpected change to multiplayer came with this Call of Duty not including Zombies mode. Instead, fitting with the theme of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, players take part in a new wave based mode called Exo Survivor. Instead of just ongoing waves of enemies, the waves switch objectives from repelling enemy attacks to holding checkpoints to collecting dog tags. During that time, players use upgrade points to help prepare for the oncoming rounds. In addition, they have three types of Exo suits to help cater to their play style.
As expected, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a beautiful looking game. Most impressive are the character’s faces as can be seen by just how close Kevin Spacey’s is to real life. While people freaked out about the lifelike characters of LA Noire years ago, this blows them completely out of the water.
and the Short
While Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare doesn’t make a genre defying leap forward like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare did years ago, it does push FPS gaming in the right direction. It doesn’t feel like another rehash of previous titles in the franchise. Instead, it diverts just enough to feel like a new game and utilizes the gameplay additions in multiplayer to give the title longevity in the same way its predecessors did. If you haven’t been a fan of the series or genre in the past, this one won’t change your mind on it but for those who were debating coming back after the lackluster performance of Call of Duty: Ghosts, they should know that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare gives them a reason to try again.
PlayStation 4 (Also available on PlayStation 3, XBox One, XBox 360 & PC)
Developer: Sledgehammer Games