OSW Review | Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Another year, another Call of Duty! But this year is different - this year COD is set in the future (wait, wasn’t that Black Ops 2’s gimmick?). All joking aside, this year boasts a 3 year development cycle & a genuine attempt to spruce up the quickly stagnating series with new mechanics & a greatly increased importance on the single player portion. Does it manage to reinvigorate the series or is the same as always (with added Kevin Spacey). Read on to see exactly what I thought.

Developer: Sledgehammer Games (2014)
Publisher: Activision (2014)
Console: PC, PS3, 360, PS4, XboxOne (Played on PS4)
Reviewed by V1

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You play as Jack Micthell (voiced by Troy Baker), a US Marine sent to Seoul to fight the North Koreans. After the death of your best friend (it had about as much impact as my last sentence) & the loss of an arm, Mitchell is discharged from the army. Following an unintentionally hilarious funeral (press x to pay respects!) you are offered a job with Atlas Corp., run by Jonathon Irons (Kevin Spacey), & are given a robot arm to kill terrorists with. Soon you’re travelling all over the world to snuff the threat of the KVA & eventually Atlas Corp. themselves.

This year a lot of the pre-release promotion harped on how this was their best single player campaign ever, but three missions in I was absolutely furious that I fell for the hype yet again. However as the game passed the midway point & picked up steam, I began to enjoy the story for what it was. No, it’s not able to compare to the best stories in gaming, but I’d argue that it’s the best single player campaign of the entire series, or at least on par with Modern Warfare 1.

Although it doesn’t change the formula too much, the decision to stick to one character arc is fantastic. No more hopping between different soldiers, fighting for different armies in different countries. This time you’re one character (still multiple armies & countries tho) with a fairly well written & performed story. However, outside of the main players in the story, every other character is paper thin & fairly poorly performed. There is some badly written dialogue, but nothing as near as bad as COD Ghosts (that scene with your Dad on the plane was horrific!). Overall I found the single player campaign to be worthwhile & enjoyable, good stuff Sledgehammer Games.

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After the disappointing next-gen debut of Ghosts, Sledgehammer knew it needed to up its game this year. Thankfully they did just that & COD Advanced Warfare is a great looking game. Seriously, the facial likenesses are just unbelievable. Both Troy Baker & Kevin Spacey look exactly like their real-life selves (although Spacey has very dead eyes, especially when compared to Bakers character). Minor characters aren’t as amazing looking as the main characters, but still look good. Textures look great, lighting is excellent, particle effects look lovely & just about everything else too. The pre-mission cut-scenes are exceptional looking, they’re nearly as good as a blizzard or Halo 4 cutscene. There is some slowdown during these cutscenes & a few instances of screen tearing, but thankfully these never happened during actual gameplay.

Audio design is just about as impressive as it’s ever been in COD. Guns sound meaty (still not as impressive as Battlefield 4 though), sound effects are impressive & voice acting ranges from meh to outstanding. Both Troy Baker & Kevin Spacey turn in great performances, particularly Spacey. He’s given some decent material to work with, but he delivers it like a fucking boss! Minor characters stand out far less (although to try & stand out when Spacey is knocking it out of the park might be fairly difficult). This is particularly evident when the Idris Elba wannabe is speaking. Damn he even looks like him too!

The soundtrack to Advanced Warfare is fairly standard for the series. The majority of tracks are your typical military brass & drums, with very COD-like guitars & electronic sounds layered over. It’s not bad by any stretch, but it’s also completely generic & unmemorable. There’s not one second of the soundtrack that’s I remember from my playthrough.

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Everything so far has been good to great & the gameplay is absolutely no different. It’s a well-made shooter that does very little badly. Gunplay is slick, movement is quick & some of the new exo-suit abilities are lots of fun. However, if you’ve played any COD games in the last 8 years then you know exactly what to expect. Sledgehammer set themselves up to disappoint fans by making too many promises about revolutionising COD. After months of hearing about how the exo-suit completely changed the COD experience, I was very disappointed when I realised it’s the exact same game it always was, now with a double jump. It feels restrictive when compared to Titanfall & is still feels like it’s years behind Battlefield.

There are some worthwhile inclusions including a new array of grenades. These include heat seeking smart grenades, EMPs, & my personal favourite, the threat grenade (it highlights enemies with an infra-red glow). Other new mechanics include the criminally underused grapnel gun & a quick dodge mechanic. These are nice new gimmicks but they don’t change how the game is fundamentally played. In fact, they actually increase the COD chaos as players are able to move around the maps even faster than ever before. Instead of 16 Rambos running around shooting each other, there are now 16 mecha-Rambos shooting each other!

Multiplayer, like the single player campaign, is the same game as it’s ever been. The exo-abilities feel under-utilised & don’t really make a difference to the core gameplay. Sure it’s nice to be able to jump to cover quickly & the dodge mechanic is handy but you’re still going to end up sprinting around a small map trying to shoot all the other sprinters. It’s fun but it’s also mind numbingly simple. There’s not much room for teamwork or clever game types. Run n’ Gun is the name of the game. The map collection is fairly standard. Nothing stands out as much as some of the Modern Warfare or Black Ops 2 maps & the same set of game modes make a return (but everyone plays team deathmatch anyways). The pick 13 system is taken straight from Black Ops 2’s pick 10 system but adds even more choice. It’s my favourite system of the entire series.

Lastly there are fewer modes in this years game than in previous iterations. The decision to remove the Zombie mode & stick in a trailer telling fans how they can buy it later is disgusting. I hope nobody buys it to teach them a lesson, although millions will………….. sigh.

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Good Points:
• Incredible looking facial animation
• Excellent voice acting from Spacey & Troy Baker
• Great new gimmicks such as grapnel & double jumps
• High production values
• Fun gunplay
• Pick 13 system for multiplayer

Bad Points:
• Some terrible writing in single player
• Same aul gunplay as ever
• New mechanics are fun but don’t change core gameplay
• Less modes than previous CODs
• Zombie mode is now paid DLC
• Multiplayer matchmaking is dodgy

Overall: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a tough game to score. On one hand they added a few new mechanics & really concentrated on this year’s story, but on the other it’s still the exact same twitchy, balls out arcade shooter it’s always been. Even the new features fail to improve the core experience. However, despite all the above there can be no denying that Advanced Warfare is a very well made, perfectly functional FPS that has great production values, plenty of content to keep you busy & is still an enjoyable experience. 8/10

8-10 stars


Release Date
December 6, 2014