Review – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
The Call of Duty franchise has seen some huge highs and some equally low lows throughout its lifetime. With Advanced Warfare, it is clear that Sledgehammer Games and Activision have done their best to re-invigorate the series, combining the strengths the games are know for with new additions to keep the franchise fresh. The result is a polished, well-designed game that has a few rough edges, but not enough to lessen the appeal of the game.
Fans of the CoD series will know that Advanced Warfare brings with it some very heavy star power – Kevin Spacey both voices and plays Jonathan Irons, CEO of Atlas Corporation, a major player in the game’s plotline. The main playable character is voiced by Troy Baker, a name very familiar to anyone who’s played any game over the last two years. This star power provides some memorable performances, with both actors excelling in their performances of their characters. Without spoiling the game’s plotline, the role of Jonathan Irons is a very important one, and one that Kevin Spacey makes his own. His nuanced performance is on-point and quite stunning to watch, made even more spectacular by the fantastic character models and facial animation of the game’s engine. For those playing on the PS3 or Xbox 360, these graphics won’t be as jaw dropping, but for anyone with a PS4 or Xbox One – prepare to be wowed. These impressive visuals aren’t just reserved from the character models – the environments and locational settings featured in game will have you breathing an ‘ooooh’ of wonder as well.
The variety of locations and mission types are another big tick in the game’s favor. Call of Duty Advanced Warfare features a large variety of locations, from war-ravaged countries to delapidated cities to mansions and natural areas. The variety is a welcome relief to the mundane browns and more browns of other FPS games and I’ll admit to being impressed by the continual change of scenery in Advanced Warfare. Oftentimes I caught myself admiring the scenery during a mission rather than paying attention to what was happening in front of me, which is likely the reason I had to re-load so many times after dying.
The variety of mission types are also a big plus for the game, with missions no longer simply the shoot and follow style seen in previous iterations of the series. Whilst it is true to say there are some of those missions (and I expect we will never step away from this in a CoD game), missions in Advanced Warfare are varied and will see you hopping on hovercraft and in vehicles in addition to being on foot, and they also include new gameplay elements. Thanks to your character’s exo suit, each mission provides you with a different gadget to use during the mission, allowing for experimentation in the way that you tackle each chapter of the story. Most of these gadgets are a heck of a lot of fun to use, and whilst they can take some getting used to, once you master them you’ll be feeling like the Exo-suited-up badass you are. By swapping the gadgets you have available to you with each mission, the game also allows you to mix up your play style, ensuring you never completely favour one approach over another. Stealth is also a major part of some of the missions in the game, and whilst this does provide a unique counterweight to the usual bullet spray gameplay, I found the stealth sections frustrating at times. Enemy AI seems to know wherever you are even if they aren’t facing you or looking in your direction, meaning that some sections require a great deal of patience and correct timing to clear. The amount of time I spent trying to finish one particular stealth-only mission reduced my enjoyment of the game and whilst I know I’m not the best at stealth, I expect some people will have a similar experience to me. It’s a shame, as the other elements of the gameplay are exceptionally well done.
From a story perspective, Advanced Warfare manages to tell an interesting (if in places stereotypic) tale. Whilst the twist reveal in the early part of the game isn’t at all surprising, the way in which Advanced Warfare handles its story, weaving your character’s experience into a larger tale about ethical and moral motivations is an impressive feat for a title which several years ago was focused only on short burst storytelling. Advanced Warfare’s story isn’t going to win any storytelling awards, of course, however it is refreshing to see the developers are at least exploring more immersive plotlines in their games.
Weapons wise, Advanced Warfare provides the player with a bountiful collection of damage dealing lovelies. You have a variety of weapons to choose from throughout each of the levels, and whilst each gun you try does feel different and has its own strengths, you’ll likely find your go-to weapon early and stick with it. Accompanying your guns are of course grenades, which are fantastic for getting yourself out of tight situations. Here, there is also variety, and I must acknowledge the glorious fun I had with combining threat grenades (which highlight enemies through walls and other obstructions) with laser style weapons that make short work of enemy armor. Advanced Warfare also includes explosive drones that track enemies and explode near them, in addition to EMP grenades which disable enemy equipment and are a godsend when you’re up against mass amounts of flying drones.
Overall, the single player campaign is a satisfying length and the weapons and exo suit that are at your disposal combine to create an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said for multiplayer. It’s a sad fact that as a female, I rarely venture onto any multiplayer modes for fear of harrasment and offensive behaviour directed at me. Within ten minutes of jumping into an Advanced Warfare multiplayer match and being ‘found out’ as being female by other players online, the barrage of offensive namecalling and completely unacceptable behaviour I experienced led me to leave the session. Given this, if you want an opinion on the multiplayer element of Advanced Warfare, I suggest reading a review by a male reviewer who isn’t subjected to this type of asinine, immature, hurtful behaviour. I won’t judge the game by the people who play it and as a result I have not deducted any points as a result of my experience online. However, I will acknowledge that the score I give is only for the single player campaign.
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare is a solid game which combines new features with enjoyable gameplay (at least from the singleplayer campaign perspective). Weapon variety is impressive and their use is satisfying, and used in conjunction with grenades and the exo suit itself, Advanced Warfare allows the player to experiment with different ways to tackle missions. Aside from a few small issues with hokey dialogue and frustrating stealth areas, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare is an excellent addition to the franchise, and offers something more than most other FPSes on the market.
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare scores an 8 out of 10.