GamingReview: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare


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With the development cycle extended for each of the studios, it gives each team a chance to not only refine specific aspects of the game, but also potentially aim for something to truly make their mark on the franchise. This year it’s Sledgehammer Games’ turn at wielding the Call of Duty brand; making some fairly drastic decisions in the process, namely the exo-suit and all of its inherent features.

As ever in the series, there are three modes at your disposal, and whilst a certain majority of players will jump blindly into the multiplayer, I thought I’d start off ‘calmly’ with the campaign. Enter the boots of Private Jack Mitchell, proudly serving his country in a hostile Seoul against a radicalised group of North Koreans before of course, in atypical fashion; events take a turn for the worst. After fending off a swarm attack with little but a car door (and a mounted, fully automatic MG) we’re left with witnessing the horrific outcome of a failed ‘plant the explosives’ objective.

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Obligatory lighting shot

Whilst attending former squadmate Will Irons’ funeral and nursing a wound that even time can’t heal, we’re given a proposal by the much touted potential antagonist of the game. Join the largest PMC in the world and return to duty with an advanced prosthetic arm, or wallow in self-pity as a discharged amputee. Before too long, you’ll have been thrown in at the deep end of Advanced Warfare’s newly implemented movement mechanics and will have witnessed the potential capabilities on offer, not necessarily in the order you might expect however.

Instead of introducing the exo-suit in either dribs and drabs or even all at once, missions are set up with different variants of the prospective abilities, helpfully letting you try out the diverse set of exo-abilities. Whilst this is undoubtedly a good thing, for some reason your exo boosts, dodges, slides and slams are not always available depending on the mission, despite having access to the suit’s deployable shields and the like. Besides the obvious, Advanced Warfare also makes additional, more subtle changes to the single player campaign too. The HUD has been revamped and streamlined, projecting both ammo and grenade counts directly onto the rear of your weapon. Handily letting you view all necessary information at a glance in the centre of the screen as opposed to the corners.

Taking cues out of the Black Ops 2 campaign, there’s some customisability involved in the single player portion too. Acquiring kills in separate ways, via grenades and headshots as well as gathering the obligatory ‘intel’ dotted about the levels will grant you upgrade points to spend on your exo-suit between missions. Whilst not compulsory, the benefits are largely advantageous and can include perk-like upgrades such as a quicker ADS time, taking less overall damage and allowing you to use your abilities more frequently.

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Pretty sure that’s an SMG with a drum mag

Despite the singleplayer length scraping by its usual quota of completion time, it’s categorically the most well-presented, most entertaining campaign in the Call of Duty series I can remember. Kevin Spacey’s role as Jonathan Irons, the CEO of Atlas Corporation, is as entertaining as it is impressively mo-capped and his presence is felt in every scene. The narrative is well told, the characters are memorable and the overall concept of a PMC controlling the world’s wars and conflicts toes the edge of credibility and fits snugly into the general theme of Call of Duty.

The second mode up for grabs is the ever present, wave based survival type which involves you taking to each multiplayer map on the game, and fending off as many goons as possible. Whilst it may be maligned by some for not being the complete zombie experience for which Treyarch’s ventures are famous for, it still more than warrants your attention this time round. Similar to Modern Warfare 3’s survival mode, it pits you against all manners of enemies with each round getting progressively more difficult. Variation and customisability are key features here, with not only the ability to purchase weapon attachments, equipment and scorestreaks, but also to change class too. With three to choose from, you’re limited to classes of weapons and available scorestreaks depending upon your choice. The recon style class focuses on SMG’s, pistols and high manoeuvrability to get by, but is limited by the defensive UAV streak. The other two classes are variants upon the same theme, with limitations based on weapons, movement and scorestreaks.

Aside from being able to upgrade your damage output and armour, amongst other things, the game manages to keep it fresh by introducing objective play into the rounds. Whilst killing each and every enemy is a pre-requisite for completion, some rounds may ask you to collect intel off fallen enemies or defuse a bomb within a time limit. Aside from being integrally difficult, failure to complete these will result in punishments such as system hacks being used against you, giving further incentive to slip on your try-hard pants.

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How nobody’s dead yet is beyond me

The primary draw however for most players will be the inherent multiplayer offerings, the chance to pit your skills (and internet connection) against others around the world. The addition of the exo-suit is undoubtedly the most radical instalment to the series yet and provides both excitement, and confusion in spades. Despite the gunplay still feeling like any other Call of Duty game, there are several implemented changes that swap things up quite drastically.

The exo-suit not only provides great variation in movement, but also opens up more choices for the loadout selection too. Featuring a ‘pick 13’ system, Advanced Warfare lets you customise more than ever before, with the addition of your scorestreaks counting towards your allocated points. If you feel a little perk hungry, try removing those top tier streaks you never earn, and slap on another perk instead. Conversely, you can now (for a price) add a fourth slot for your streaks, letting you wreak more continuous aerial havoc, providing you can attain them all of course.

For the first time, you can now customise your scorestreaks too, if you’re tired of your UAV being shot down, send it into orbit to remove such a threat. Or if your sentry gun isn’t quite racking up the kills, make it fire rockets instead, oh and why not make it detachable whilst you’re at it? There are of course repercussions to this, with each added modifier, up to a maximum of three, the required score to attain it increases also. Adding the support ability to the care package drop for example will ensure you can earn it despite dying, but at the cost of it nearly doubling the score required.

The return of smaller, three lane maps, is indeed a welcome one over the gigantic death fests that fans of Ghost’s may recall, but with the exo-suit, the same problem of being constantly shot in the back often arises. The point of structured maps are such that you should be able to spawn safely and proceed to your objective. Whereas the exo-suits traversal capabilities let you cross the map so quickly, (for now at least) it’s common to spawn surrounded by danger.

At a glance, the weapon selection might seem fairly meagre, only three automatic assault rifles are available to pick from at max level, with the others being burst or semi-auto and unfortunately no way to convert them. Yet Advanced Warfare has another trick up its sleeve with the supply drop system. Every now and again, you’ll earn what is essentially a loot chest that can contain any manner of things from a guaranteed care package to aesthetic choices to adorn your avatar with. Most importantly however, is the chance to receive weapon variants, complete with stat differences and the potential for irremovable attachments. With hundreds of potential outcomes, before too long, you’ll have built up quite the armoury; on the plus side, if you find a rarer item you don’t quite fancy, you can redeem it for XP.

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Everybody likes Kevin Spacey

As ever upon a Call of Duty release, there are the usual weapon balance issues and wonky connections that plague the launch, but within a month these are usually ironed out with a slew of patches. Until then, there’s the usual case of the player with the most radically different ping being the ‘best’ and so forth. There are also a few niggles that seem like odd design choices, such as not being able to see how many players are online and in each game mode. Another annoyance being that every time you get five kills without dying, you’re temporarily awarded with a helmet that stays in the ‘new’ box at the top of the menus, making it essentially look like you’ve always got something new when you haven’t.

Either way, it’s another solid foray into the CoD multiplayer if you play on the classic, non exo-suit playlists. Or if you fancy something a little different and faster paced, you can boost jump straight into the normal modes where for a while you’ll feel like a young Spiderman, crashing into walls, flying off the maps and performing the odd spectacular kill. The single player campaign is one of the greatest I’ve played in a Call of Duty game; with the level of detail in both graphics and sound design being something to behold. Keeping faithful enough to the franchise to keep the hardcore coming back, whilst also adding enough new content to evolve and progress the series cannot be easy, but somehow they’ve managed it. Call of Duty is back.


+ A great singleplayer
+ Classic multiplayer with a twist
+ Exquisite graphic and sound design
+ Kevin Spacey
- Inevitable multiplayer woes

(Reviewed on PS4, also available on Xbox One, PC, PS3 and Xbox 360)

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+ A great singleplayer <br /> + Classic multiplayer with a twist <br /> + Exquisite graphic and sound design <br /> + Kevin Spacey <br /> - Inevitable multiplayer woes <br /> <br /> (Reviewed on PS4, also available on Xbox One, PC, PS3 and Xbox 360)Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare