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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Review

When November rolls around everyone (whether they like it or not) knows to expect a new iteration in the Call of Duty franchise. It’s like one of life’s certainties at this point. A lot of people over the past few years have grown bored of the familiar formula that has been pumped out year after year by Treyarch and Infinity Ward. But Sledgehammer Games has taken the helm to try and change that. To mix up the formula while at the same time keep the feel of a Call of Duty game. Did they succeed or does it still feel like “just another Call of Duty game”?

Call of Duty in Space(y)!

Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Publisher: Activision
Format: Xbox one
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Copy purchased
The biggest draw to any Call of Duty in recent times has been the competitive multiplayer component. Call of Duty 4 even helped revolutionize (for better or worse) the first person shooter genre. With Sledgehammer trying to bring something fresh to the table once again for the first time since then, it seems a good place to start.

Personally I enjoyed most of the previous entries in the series. Although Black Ops 2 is my favourite outside of the iconic Modern Warfare, I always look forward to giving the new game’s multiplayer a bash. This time was no different and unlike the disappointing multiplayer that Ghosts offered up, Advanced Warfare has blown me away. If you’ve seen even one piece of news on this title you would know that the exoskeleton is the driving force to keep the series fresh, which it does so very well in multiplayer. Being able to double jump alone adds a whole dimension to the Call of Duty experience. Being able to utilize the whole map instead of just the ground makes it feel much more like a three dimensional battleground.

Double jump (or Boost Jump as it is officially called) is only the tip of the iceberg. Boost dodge makes for some pretty intense firefights and even some sneaky evasion tactics if you pull it off right. Also being able to combine that with the boost jump you can strafe in mid air, making you a harder target to kill. On top of these you can also have an exo ability. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t use them a whole lot but I have seen a lot of people using them. I load out with the cloak ability which has managed to get me out of a few sticky situations, but like I said, I don’t use it much. I’ve died many times to someone using the stim ability though which increases their health for a short duration.

The loadout system in the game is very similar to that of Black Ops 2. You get 13 slots to fill with whatever you want. Letting you take anything from perks and scorestreaks to weapons and their attachments. It leaves you with many combinations to try and find your perfect loadout.

Outside of the loadouts there is a plethora of cosmetic options to kit your guy (or girl) out with. With 9 different sections that you can customize you are sure to find something that you like and will enjoy unlocking more items. Which brings me to the supply drops. I’m not entirely sure how you unlock them but it seems to be just playtime. When you unlock one it acts much like a random pack that you see in many other (mainly EA) games. However you cannot buy them with real money and playing is the only way to unlock them. Inside you can get various items such as outfit pieces for the cosmetic options and weapons with slightly different stats from the vanilla version you unlock through natural ranking. Also available in these packs are double xp bonuses. Depending on the rarity you could get anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes of double xp. So it’s always exciting to see what you are going to get.

Content wise there are currently 12 game modes, a hardcore playlist, a ranked playlist and a classic playlist (which excludes exo abilities). There are also 13 maps in the base game with an additional 1 if you buy the season pass. So there is a lot of content there from the jump to sink your teeth into.

Campaign wise Advanced Warfare is a really fun experience. It doesn't try to do anything more than what you expect from a Call of Duty game which is just shoot people, blow stuff up, and have some cool scenes to watch. They don’t try too hard with a story and just made one that would enable you to travel to some gorgeous locales and have some pretty badass set pieces. One of my favourites being the gunfight on top of moving traffic towards the beginning of the game. There’s also a scene where you get to see the Golden Gate Bridge crumble with you at the center. So they have certainly checked the boxes for some monumental scenes and set pieces. 

The big thing they touted for the campaign though was the inclusion of Kevin Spacey. If you've seen the Netflix show House of Cards then you already know what to expect. He’s a terrific actor and lives up to that standard in Advanced Warfare. Any scene with him included is a joy to watch and, if anything, there wasn't enough of him. The motion capture they used on the cut-scenes had him looking eerily lifelike. That also goes for the rest of the cast too. A few cut-scenes had me questioning whether they were actually live action! The in game graphics looked stunning also which is obviously the type you will look at the most. It still has that look of a Call of Duty game but with a much cleaner, prettier skin on it.The audio hits all the right notes too. From the sound of the guns to the music in those tense moments. Everything has been fine tuned to deliver an excellent experience.

Gameplay wise the campaign is basically a showcase of the advanced technology within the game, which is far from a bad thing. Try out all that equipment is a blast and constantly giving you new toys to play with gives the game some real variety. I’m not going to talk about all the tech there is on offer because it really is a massive amount, but most of it makes the game really easy to play, which is both a blessing and a curse. Threat grenades in particular make killing enemies an absolute breeze. There’s even a grenade that you throw and it will track the enemy. The threat enhancer scope also makes picking off the baddies a walk in the park. With the game being that easy it will only last you about 5 hours. Which is not worth your $60/£45 if you’re not into the multiplayer, but is a fantastic addition to it. 

For many people the draw to Call of Duty in recent years has been it’s co-operative modes. Zombies being most peoples favourites (not mine). But I loved Extinction and Spec-ops missions. The offering this time around is a very lackluster exo survival mode. It really is a basic horde mode with exo abilities. It’s not bad but it only has a couple hours of entertainment before boredom sets in. The maps they use for it are not unique like the previous co-op modes either, they are just the same maps from the multiplayer. They try and add so replay value to it by putting the maps into tiers and tasking you with playing a bunch of each tier to unlock each one but chances are you won’t care enough to do it. This mode right here is the biggest knock on the game.

For the achievement hunters out there, there is a very easy 1000 gamerscore on offer. It’s a fairly standard list for the series with the standard completing the game on veteran only varied by some achievements tied to the exo abilities you receive in each mission. There is no multiplayer achievements and only a handful of achievements tied to the sub-par exo survival mode. However one of the achievements in this mode will require to unlock the 4th tier of maps which will take you around 5 hours or so of playing the mode but you can also just have someone with it unlocked take you into the map you need to save time. If you can find such a friend to do so then you should be able to knock out the 1000 in about 12 hours or less

All in all Sledgehammers first installment in the series is an exceedingly good one. With a multiplayer that is frantic and fun and a campaign that is just awesome to play through, this game is a step in the right direction for the slowly wearing franchise. Hopefully next year Treyarch can keep this movement going and not fall back into the old groove.

+A Fresh feeling for CoD
+Campaign set pieces
+Kevin Spacey

-Exo Survival
-Not enough Spacey
-Single Player is too easy and too short

Score: 9.2/10

What I played: Completed the Campaign on Veteran Difficulty. Played about 2 hours of Exo Survival. Competed over 10 hours of Competitive Multiplayer and attained all of the games achievements on Xbox One.
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