It’s been one year since Call of Duty: Ghosts hit the scene and that means it’s about time that another Call of Duty game hits shelves. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is this year’s attempt by Sledgehammer Games. Will this be more of the same from a series that has seemingly become stale and hasn’t changed much since Modern Warfare? We’ll answer that question and many more inside!
If there is one thing I really dislike about video games, it’s that successful titles always seem to stay true to the formula that brought them success instead of continuing to innovate and bring new ideas to the table. This was the case with the Call of Duty franchise for many years. Don’t get me wrong, Call of Duty has definitely been an entertaining game for a lot of people. This series breaks entertainment records every year so there definitely hasn’t been much reason for change in the last few years. Complacency in a series breeds resentment in the gaming community though. Before AW even came out, I already saw tons of posts on different threads touting it as “just another Call of Duty game” and “more of the same…”. For the first time in a long time though, I have to say I respectfully disagree. Call of Duty: Advance Warfare does a lot of things right and is the welcome change resentful players have been looking for.
As much as the single-player mode has become a very secondary thing to a lot of players in this franchise in recent years, I definitely have to touch on it a little bit. The characters and facial animations are top-notch and better than anything I’ve seen so far on the PS4. Kevin Spacey and Troy Baker do a spectacular job. Spacey was a great choice to play his character, the confident head of Atlas Private Security, Jonathan Irons. Baker plays the main character Mitchell who is a grisly, no-nonsense kind of character not unlike the many characters of past games. The issue I have is that, as good as these two are, AW really fails at making you emotionally-invested in the story. With so many big moments happening, I feel like you definitely should care about the relationships between the characters. The story never really fleshed out those relationships enough to make them important. With that little nuisance out of the way though, the story was quite enjoyable to play through. There are many different ways to play with each level having it’s own unique elements. “Traffic” has you running across the tops of trucks while shooting down enemies. The Detroit level has you driving bikes through the city to get back to the quarantine area. There’s even a stealth mission which can be frustrating at times, but it’s a welcome change to the run and shoot formula. The story mode only lasts around 6 hours and ends a bit confusingly, but is definitely worth a play-through.
Your arsenal is more impressive than it has ever been in a Call of Duty game in my opinion. The range of weapons and uses for them make for some very deadly combinations. Grenades have definitely received a welcome treatment in the game with multiple types that all have different uses instead of the standard smoke, flash, frag. Added to the lineup are the threat grenade which lights up all enemies and allows you shoot them through walls. Another addition is the EMP grenade which takes down all drones in a matter of seconds. The best one if the smart grenade though. This grenade works as a sort of homing frag grenade and makes it easy to tag an enemy on the run. Lasers and homing rockets are also in for those who prefer some heavier weaponry. Even the standard class weapons pack a punch with a bunch of different attachment options that can make your favourite weapon much more powerful. The exo abilities were great in the story as well, but the problem with that is that you are locked to a certain ability set in each level. This is a bit of a design flaw and takes away a lot of freedom to play the game the way you want for the player.
While the exo abilities could be utilized better in single-player, the multi-player mode really makes great use of them. Gone are the days of running around looking for a player right in front of you to take down. In AW, you have to be on top of your game at all times because if you aren’t, someone will swoop down out of the sky and kill you. This is a true game-changer for this series. A little bit more thinking is involved before moving around because at any moment another player could be closing in from anywhere. This creates a lot more of a tactical and creative element. Snipers can perch themselves on high ledges and bare down on enemies, a player who is about to get attacked can boost into the sky, and players can even cloak themselves for a short period of time. There are no shortage of ways to find success in this year’s multi-player.
The rewards system is great in AW as well. As you continuously rank up in multi-player, you gain supply drops with cosmetic items, temporary items, and new rare guns. This almost feels a bit like the Borderlands loot system and is a nice change to the series giving players some random new gear all the time and giving the player incentive to keep playing. There are even new weapon attachments that change your gun in a multitude of ways. The good thing is that this is complementary to the traditional system, so there are more items than ever to unlock. The player is afforded a lot of freedom to play the way they want to which is an important part of any game. The pick-13 system makes a comeback from Black Ops II (pick-10). The system works really well here and with 13 slots, any player can find a loadout that effective and tailor-made to the way they play. Don’t use grenades? Take them away. Not good enough for high-level scorestreaks? Get rid of them and put an extra attachment on your gun. It’s all your decision and that is exactly how it should be. There’s even a firing range to test all this gear. Such a simple concept and it makes you wonder why that wasn’t a part of past games!
The maps in AW are varied and give players a lot of space and different heights to play with. There are a lot of high spots to make use of the boost jump and I generally felt like the maps were very well-designed. I’m interested to see what DLC maps they can come up with, especially if they can redesign some older COD maps to work better with the new gameplay mechanics. The standard game modes are all there as far as I could tell. Ground War has been a favourite of mine so far with the mix of Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, and Domination (Which is a ton of fun with everyone jumping around near the capture points). There’s also a Combat Readiness Program with a mix of bots and players with anyone with a high kill count being locked out so that newer players can get a feel for the game without being frustrated by stiff competition in the normal modes. There is a co-op “Exo-Survival” mode as well. I didn’t spend a ton of time with that, but it’s basically a mix of offensive and defensive objectives. Everything from fighting off dogs, to collecting intel, to fighting giant robot creations will keep you and up to three friends on your toes.
Call of Duty was a series that really looked like it was on its way out after last year’s Ghosts, but Sledgehammer Games have proven that there is new life in this powerful franchise. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare sticks to the tried and true COD formula while adding complementary elements that have brought this series to new heights. This is certainly a very enjoyable entry in the series and one that has reinvigorated my interest when it was at an all-time low. I think the same would be say for a lot of the critics if they give this one a chance. This is the best Call of Duty game in years and I definitely recommend giving it a try.
This game was provided to FYIG by Activision for review purposes.