A FRESH FACE FOR THE STALE FRANCHISE
One of the first things I noticed with Call of Duty: Advance Warfare was that it felt fresh. With its yearly showing at the beginning of the holiday season, I was expecting another boring (but action packed) scenario as I try to save the world from another random country. However, this year’s entry felt different. Advance Warfare is finally moving the series forward — something that hasn’t really happened since Modern Warfare brought the series to the 21th century. This year’s Call of Duty title includes an awesome campaign featuring Kevin Spacey and is based on a possible future for humanity and the state of war throughout the world. I firmly believe that Call of Duty: Advance Warfare is here to stay.
New studio Sledgehammer Games, founded by the creators of Dead Space who also had a hand in developing Modern Warfare 3, spent the last three years creating the newest iteration in the Call of Duty franchise. And believe me, their hard work shows.
Advanced Warfare’s story is similar to what we’ve come to expect from the series. Jonathan Irons (Kevin Spacey) is the CEO of the world’s largest Private Military Corporation (PMC) known as ATLAS. You play through the first mission alongside Iron’s son Will, and after everything goes wrong, ATLAS offers you a “second chance.” The story will take you across the globe, visiting a futuristic Detroit, a power plant in Seattle, New Baghdad, Antarctica and many more exciting locations. Each stage is a setting for your typical Call of Duty setup — the recon mission, the infiltration mission, the VIP rescue, the big assault, the defense against a completely unexpected surprise attack – but are all now 10 times better due to the exosuit, which I will explain later.
One aspect of Advanced Warfare’s story that felt different was that I actually cared for the characters involved. Whether it was just Troy Baker’s pretty face and familiar voice, or my favorite Netflix politician calling the shots, or just the writing that has significantly improved since the last few games — something about it made me actually care about everything that was said and done. This was an awesome change of pace and made this year’s Call of Duty much more memorable than in years past.
The difference between Call of Duty: Advance Warfare and the previous games is that this title is set in the future, with futuristic tech like your exosuit. Over the course of the game, you will find yourself donning three different variations of this suit. One of them is an assault version, which will give you access to a jetpack that assists with gliding around the environment and lets you slam down on enemies. The second one is a specialist suit — here, you had access to a riot shield, health packs, and an overdrive option, which slows down the gameplay and lets you line up your shots for a brief amount of time. Later in the campaign you get access to a robotic type of suit, and let’s just say you will not be disappointed.
The exosuit isn’t the “end all, be all” of powers and you are by no means invisible. The suit simply serves as another weapon in your arsenal and adds new elements to the gameplay. I found myself using the suit more as a defensive measure than offensive. If you walk out in front of enemy fire and think you can take on a grenade, you’re mistaken. The suit also adds tactical depth to the gameplay by allowing you to set up position higher by jet packing up and taking the enemy out. Grenades have evolved and added some interesting gameplay. In addition to your standard frag grenade, you are equipped with a tactical grenade that you can cycle what affect it has with the press of a button. You have your standard flash, an EMP grenade for robotics, and a threat grenade that shows you where all of the enemies in the area are located for a few seconds. My favorite was the threat grenade by far. I loved being able to quickly snipe enemies behind walls because I knew where they were hiding.
After each mission, you’ll have the option to upgrade your exosuit’s various abilities. These points are gained by completing tasks throughout the game: headshot kills, grenade kills, total kills, and finding intel.
Some of the upgrades you can get are extra health, recoil reduction, increased reload speed, extra grenade storage, and a few more. This added level of customization was a welcome addition to the single-player campaign, but didn’t really make a substantial difference in the end. This system could have gone even further, and made each upgrade feel like it made you THAT much stronger.
My gripe with the campaign is that there were far too many quick time events; it felt like there was one everywhere I turned, and some of them were not very noticeable until it was too late. They never pulled me out of the moment per se, but after a few deaths because of missing them, all I could do was shake my head.
Visually, Call of Duty: Advance Warfare is a treat and really shows off what this generation’s consoles can pull off. I felt like I was in the heat of the battle every second of the campaign and the framerate never dipped once while playing. From the detailed character models to the detailed environments and cinematic lighting, it all looked amazing. Sledgehammer Games nailed it in the graphics department.
The multiplayer in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is surprising fun. You could consider it the Call of Duty multiplayer greatest hits. Older gameplay systems have returned such as Black Ops II’s Pick-10 Create-A-Class system. However, in Advance Warfare, it’s a Pick-13 system due to the fact that scorestreaks are a part of the Create-A-Class. Scorestreaks can be customized, giving them new features, but they require more points to earn the reward.
Customization plays a huge part in Advance Warfare with create an Operator. Your soldier is customized with different gun loadouts, different killstreak perks, different exosuit abilities and different passive boosts. While playing, you receive Supply Drops that are gifted to you as you complete challenges. The supply drops can include skins, weapons and other accessories to outfit your soldier with. The player is able to customize individual gloves, helmets, exoskeletons, and just about everything else you can imagine. You are also able to select the gender of your character. With the addition of the exoskeleton suit (EXO) to multiplayer, you are able to use features such as the jetpack, riot shield, and a quick-dash, which only names a few. The exosuit fits a more defensive role in multiplayer.
Now if don’t care for the exosuit or its abilities, there is a classic multiplayer mode that completely removes the it. Another addition to Advanced Warfare is the Combat Readiness Program mode. This mode is ideal for players new to the series, or just new to first-person shooters, as it eases you into the game by taking away some of the more frustrating features like leaderboards.
The Verdict: 8.9 out of 10.0
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is exactly what the franchise needed. It looked absolutely stunning, and it felt fresh right from the get-go. The story was both exciting and fun to play, and I ended up caring about the characters far more than I ever have in a Call of Duty game before. Sledgehammer Games’ addition of the exosuit added a whole new aspect of gameplay that made each level feel that much more intense. If you had questions about the franchise, then rest assured — as long as Sledgehammer is still making games, there are going to be some awesome ones. Let’s just hope that the other Call of Duty developers can continue the excitement going forward.
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Lead Writer: Patrick Garrity an Associate Writer for MONG and a Jersey native who loves video games and enjoys the industry. He loves rum and wants to be a pirate one day. Follow him on Twitter.