Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Review
Call of Duty is a series known for consistently being the same game year after year with only minor tweaks and changes. Follow the guy with the dot over his head that says “follow,” shoot the bad guys, move on. This year, developer Sledgehammer Games is looking to change the tried and true Call of Duty formula by focusing on current-gen, taking us 50 years into the future, using motion capture, and adding exo-suits. Advanced Warfare has the same great mechanics as every other Call of Duty game, in fact, moving around and shooting has never felt, or looked, so good.
In Advanced Warfare you play as Private Jack Mitchell (Troy Baker.) After an unfortunate event in North Korea where your best friend Will Irons is killed and you lose your arm, Will’s father Jonathan Irons (Kevin Spacey) offers to give you a prosthetic arm and in return you fight for his private military corporation called the Atlas Corporation. From then on the fun really starts. However, the ending just seems forced, and it’s probably one of the worst endings a Call of Duty game has seen, but it most certainly doesn’t take away from the main story. For the sake of spoilers I won’t go any farther into the story’s details.
Advanced Warfare is one of the best looking games I have ever seen with facial and motion capture far beyond its time. You can see every pore, and every individual hair on a person’s face. Jack Mitchell looks like Troy Baker, Jonathan Irons looks like Kevin Spacey. It’s truly remarkable. That’s another thing in Advanced Warfare that makes its single-player truly amazing: the acting. If it was up to me, I would put Kevin Spacey in everything, ever, so I might be a little biased. All of the acting in the cut-scenes is phenomenal, but the supporting actors are completely overshadowed by the gut-wrenching performances of Spacey and Baker. Some of the dialogue just seems off as well. Jack and Will are supposed to be best friends who’ve known each other forever, but their conversations make them seem like they just met yesterday. It’s off-putting, but it’s not a game breaker.
In Advanced Warfare there are some typical Call of Duty missions that consist of following a dot, killing enemies, and moving on to the mission’s conclusion. They aren’t bad by any means, but they’re what we’ve come to expect from Call of Duty, and in this game they feel overshadowed. However, a lot of missions in Advanced Warfare allow you to interpret the combat how you want. You can exo-jump up onto a nearby ledge and flank your enemies, or you can even take them head on with a shield that moves with you. There is also a really great stealth mission in which you have to infiltrate someone’s home and gain access to their office to see what their plans are. In the mission you’re free to deviate from the main path and go about getting to the office in your own way as long as you stay hidden. As I was playing this mission, I was constantly being reminded of the ghillie suit mission in Call of Duty 4 called “All Ghillied Up” which is widely considered one of the Call of Duty franchise’s best missions.
The undeniable main reason why most people play Call of Duty is for its incredibly addicting multiplayer component, and this year’s iteration does not disappoint. The exo-suits add a dimension to multiplayer that make it undeniably fun even for the most uninitiated of new players, and it’s an addition I really hope they keep in future games. Call of Duty multiplayer has never been forgiving for those of us who are new and don’t play all of the time, but with the exo-suits there were a lot of situations where I was being shot at, and I boosted behind some nearby cover and ended up winning the battle. That’s what this year’s Call of Duty does best; it makes everyone feel like they’ve got a chance.
Progressing your level has never been more addicting than it is in Advanced Warfare, and it’s why I haven’t been able to stop playing since launch. Another cool thing about multiplayer is the pick 13 system. It’s the same class customization system that was used in Black Ops 2, but with an additional 3 slots. It’s nice to be able to know that each class is my own, and that no one out there has the same class as I do because they used their points differently. There are random supply drops which keep everything fresh, and a deep customization system that makes you know your soldier is completely unique.
Exo-survival is new co-op mode in this iteration, and it’s going to be compared to modes like Gears of War’s “Horde Mode” or even Call of Duty’s own zombies mode, but it’s a lot more than that. Through each round you fight waves of enemies. However, some rounds might ask you to collect enemy intel, or pick up dog tags that are scattered throughout the map all while fighting off these constant waves of enemies. If you complete the secondary objective, you won’t necessarily be rewarded, but if you fail to complete the secondary objective before the last enemy is taken out, you will be punished. Not by a reduction in points, or a failure of the mode entirely, but they might send in an enemy XS1 Goliath, or an enemy swarm of drones, and that adds an entirely new aspect to exo-survival that hasn’t been seen in horde mode or zombies. All enemies have exo-suits too, so there’s an added sense of verticality and difficulty that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
After last year’s disappointing Call of Duty: Ghosts I really hesitated picking up this game, but after completing the story and putting in over 30 hours into multiplayer and exo-survival, my worry quickly faded away. I highly recommend Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to any fan of first person shooters.