COD: Advanced Warfare Review
I am by my own admission a fan of Call Of Duty, I’m not very good at them, but a fan none-the-less. After playing Call Of Duty: Ghosts last year, I was really disheartened by the entire franchise. Fearing the utmost worst, I went into this years edition, Advanced Warfare, with almost zero expectations. However, after spending multiple hours across the campaign, the multiplayer, and the cooperative Exo Survival mode, Call Of Duty is back on top of the military shooter pile.
The reason why it's so different and so good is a narrative excuse known as the Exo Suit. It's a mechanical exoskeleton that fits onto the back on your military avatar in each game mode. Essentially it allows for you to double jump and dash in any direction alongside various abilities like health boosts, a predator style camo, and a speed boost among numerous others. There's new grenade types including the threat grenade, which lets you see bad guys through walls, and the smart grenade, which hovers in mid air then zips over to the nearest group of guys. Sitting alongside them is a large dose of weapons and equipment ripped from science fiction make the entire experience feel totally different to any previous iteration.
If you jump into any game mode you can instantly feel the difference. Your options are instantly doubled thanks to the fact that you can double jump, dash, and ground pound. Being chased in multiplayer? Double jump, dash backwards and fall down to take your pursuer from behind. Someone causing grief to your teammates below you? That’s a ground pound and a kill. Need to take out those pesky snipers? No need to find a sniper rifle to fight back, just double jump up there and punch them in their stupid heads. That simple addition changes everything about the way you play Call Of Duty. Well, almost.
Drop into the campaign and, sure, you’ll be zipping around the battlefield with more freedom than you’ve ever felt before. That is until you see an AI teammate with the word FOLLOW above his head, and you realise you’re still playing Call Of Duty. The story itself is still great. Set about 40 years in the future, the player follows Jack Mitchell - voiced by Troy Baker - as he works for the Atlas Private Military Corporation as they attempt to stop a terrorist organisation attacking spots around the globe. Troy Baker and Gideon Emery are fantastic as the two males leads are they take you from Detroit to San Francisco to Argentina to Bangkok. And of course, like in everything he’s every been in, Kevin Spacey is great a will totally not turn out to be a bad guy.
As I’ve said, much of the moment-to-moment gameplay is very much Call Of Duty. It’s six hours of running down what are essentially corridors, gunning down cookie-cutter bad guys. It’s straightforward, but does offer some thrilling set-pieces and interesting story beats despite having a few corny moments.
By reaching certain milestones in kills, headshots, grenade kills, and intel, you are handed upgrade points which in turn can give you more health, quicker aiming, more battery for your ex suit among others. The upgrade system that the campaign introduces does give a few more reasons to care about getting kills and collecting those intel laptops
Then you pop into the co-op or the multiplayer and you’re busy obsessively changing your class and getting a poor kill/death ratio and you realise you’re still playing Call Of Duty. It’s fine, however, because while the war never changes, the toys get much cooler. In the multiplayer, classes are picked using a pick 13 system. It’s the most customisable of any system COD have used, letting you negate taking secondary weapons and gear into battle in order to take more perks or attachments. Similarly, if you are not the kind of person to survive long enough to get scorestreaks, take in more firepower instead.
The rest of the multiplayer unlocks are also simpler than Ghosts. By which I mean, everything unlocks in order and not with squad points. You could always spend your time unlocking new hats, trousers, shirts, and other miscellaneous clothing options with supply drops. However, none of them matter because it’s a first-person shooter AND many of them expire after 30 minutes of play time - real pointless. Supply drops, which seemingly happen at random during matches, can also give you different weapon variations and timed double XP - far more useful.
Mode wise, there is your standard Deathmatch & Team Deathmatch. Domination, Kill Confirmed, Hardpoint, Capture The Flag, and Search And Destroy all return. Uplink is a new mode which plays like basketball with weapons. Flame tag is here in the form of Infection mode and old-school WAR mode was been renamed Momentum.
On the tech side, Advanced Warfare is pretty damn good. Ghost’s was a sloppy, blurry mess. Textures, lighting, draw distances are all good with the character models looking especially excellent. No crashes, frame rate drops, or loading issues. Nothing that is going to change the way you view video games going forward, but damn good none the less.
Even though a handful of things have changed, the end product is still a Call Of Duty game. But by jumping from Modern to Advanced Warfare, Sledgehammer Games have firmly stamped the idea of a refresh on the franchise. And they’ve succeeded. From the futuristic tweaks on modern day weapons to, and most importantly, the way the player moves around the battlefield, on top of the solid base Call Of Duty has built over the last few years, make Advanced Warfare a game totally worth playing.