Whether you’re a fan or not, there’s no debating that Call of Duty Advanced Warfare is a proper Call of Duty title, but has the advancement into the future paid off?
Well, let’s put it this way. If you’re looking for something that is going to bring you an epic story mode, a fair bit of cooperative action and an online multiplayer presence that yet again leads the way, then the answer is undeniably, yes!
For as much as some gamers will slate the Call of Duty franchise, not one of the haters could play through and complete the campaign and then honestly look themselves in the mirror to utter anything disparaging about it.
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare is stunning.
And that’s coming from a man who doesn’t really ‘do’ the whole shooter genre.
Starting with the campaign – and it’s pretty advisable to start there as Advanced Warfare contains so many little tricks that you really do need to learn the ropes first – we find the game now set in the year 2054, where you find yourself taking on the role of US Marine Jack Mitchell going into a Korean battle with your best mate, Will Irons alongside you. Much blood is shed and one of those to lose his life early on is indeed Will. Mitchell also suffers severe injuries forcing him to retire from service, but at the funeral of his old squadmate he is approached by Irons’ father, a certain Kevin Spacey, the owner of the world’s most powerful military organisation; Atlas.
Being at the forefront of technology, Atlas get about rebuilding Jack Mitchell in to the super soldier he once was, throwing him back into battles across the world. It is from there that the story gets more than interesting and it is from there that we shall stop before anything is spoiled. All you need to know is that not once through the 13 or so hours it took me to complete the campaign did I wish for it to be over. The story is unmistakably Call of Duty, being filled with many epic moments and many predefined cut scenes, all of which are of the very highest quality.
Like I say then….unmistakably CoD.
But one thing sets Advanced Warfare apart from the other games in the series and that is the crazy good exoskeleton that accompanies your every move on the battleground. Oh, and the new high tech toys that see you dish out a fair bit of justice are pretty good fun too.
The exoskeleton gives you the power that a normal everyday man can only dream of. With boost jumps and exo-slams giving you the opportunity to scale the terrain not only in the usual horizontal way but also now vertically, the areas you find yourself in (and those good old war game favourites; Iraq, Nigeria and Bangkok all play a huge part), are now opened up to new tactics and a new way of thinking. Yes, Titanfall may have got there first, but I’m going all in and saying Advanced Warfare is a much more refined experience; one filled with delightfully fast fluid movements throughout.
But it’s the real future tech that had me blown away consistently throughout the campaign. For years we have dreamt of being able to ride hover boards and whilst we don’t quite see that hit home in Advanced Warfare, the inclusion of a few levels that require the ‘driving’ of hoverbikes and hovertanks are welcome ones. It’s not really anything new over driving around in any old tank in any other shooter, but there’s that little bit at the back of your mind every time you steer your way through a corner or round an obstacle with the unique floating motion that really makes you realise you are in a world far more advanced than what we currently have.
The addition of integrated grappling hooks which can be used for either scaling great height or (as one whole mission shows), as a perfect tool to perform a hidden assassination is also great, whilst the inclusion of a bullet-time style slo-mo Overdrive, and pop up shield gives over plenty of Crysis impressions. If you’re more interested in the standard weapons and grenades on offer then you’ll be glad to know that these are both in plentiful supply and even the most hardened first person shooter will no doubt be happy with both the quantity and indeed the quality on offer.
Yes, the campaign may be way over the top, but it’s great fun throughout and whilst I don’t particularly like the way the quick-time events have been implemented, they aren’t a regular enough inclusion to put too much of a damper on things. However, other than certain ‘challenges’ that have been thrown in to try and keep us interested a bit longer, there isn’t really an awful lot to make you go back through the campaign numerous times, so once you’ve run through it once, you’ll no doubt start casting a beady eye over at the class leading multiplayer modes.
And it’s about here that we tell you that we’re more than happy with what Sledgehammer Games and Activision have thrown our way; and that’s a good thing for Advanced Warfare and indeed CoD as a series of games basically live or die nowadays by its online presence. In fact, it’s probably a little better than anything we’ve seen recently from the franchise.
Exo-Survival is a game mode that plays out much like Horde did back in the Gears Of War days, but with a modern twist on things. The vast majority of it sees you and up to three friends defending an area from any opposition that may wish to occupy the same space as you and your mates, but each wave of attacks (or in some case, defence) are relatively short affairs, filled to the brim with hot and fast action across tight maps that scream out for some superb close combat fighting. You’ll need to work as a team if you wish to fight your way through the thirteen maps on offer as the moment you start to get split up, everything will just go to pot and you’ll be finding yourself crawling around bleeding out.
And then we get to the proper multiplayer side of things. As with the campaign, there is now much emphasis on your traversal across the maps and whilst I’m not a big fan of the whole online shooting genre, I have to admit to being impressed with what is on offer. With a community that will never take prisoners, it’s hard for any newcomer to get up to speed with things without being shot or stabbed in the back every five seconds, but if you are prepared to give it a go and stick with what is being put in front of you, then you’ll love what you find. The usual game modes are in place; Team Deathmatch, Domination and Capture The Flag are all obviously present, but there are a shed load of variations on all those which make great use of the special abilities the exoskeleton brings. You can, if you so wish, hit the ‘classic’ playlists and these will dampen the experience down to what we all know and love from the years past….there’s no boost jumping or other exo movement options included here….just good old running and gunning, something long time Call of Duty players will no doubt flock to.
As is the way with many triple-A titles these days, Clans are a big part of proceedings, as are a stupidly large number of variations on your loadout alongside plenty of character customisations and class creations. Again, it’s all a bit bewildering for someone who doesn’t deal daily with shooters but the hardcore will be super happy with the creation options included.
Both visually and audio-wise, Advanced Warfare is of the very highest order with not only the cut scenes being superbly handled and acted but the main gameplay bringing about highly detailed surroundings, explosions galore and some character models that are just out of this world; at times being so good that it’s hard to distinguish between CGI and real world video. I was always slightly concerned with how the previous Call of Duty title, Ghosts looked on the next generation of consoles and Xbox One in particular, but none of those fears ever need to be raised in regards Advanced Warfare. This is truly a next gen title and should really pave the way for all future titles to build on.
So, and this is a bit of a simple summary to be honest as Call of Duty fans will absolutely love Advanced Warfare. The haters will still hate, but if you want to take in a fairly fast paced, action packed epic story and follow that up by getting involved in some properly decent online multiplayer, then there really isn’t an awful lot better to get involved with.
Has the move into the future paid off?
Most definitely, and a whole new world has opened up with it!