War. War never changes.
It’s no secret that recently the Call of Duty games have started to grow stale, with sales for Ghosts being the worst the series has seen in years. The audience felt that the spark that the Modern Warfare games so special had disappeared.
When it was announced Sledgehammer Games would be making the next entry, there was a lot of speculation whether they could find a way to bring the series back from the brink. Thankfully, Advanced Warfare isn’t only a great Call of Duty game, It’s one of the best Call of Duty games out there.
Taking place in a separate universe to the other Call of Duty games, AW follows Jack Mitchell (AKA Troy Baker) as he leaves the US Army following losing his arm and being recruited by Jonathan Irons (AKA Kevin Spacey) to work for a private military group known as Atlas.
At first it seems that Atlas is fighting on behalf of the people, but as terrorism grows more aggressive over the years Atlas is forced to take more extreme measures to keep society in check. It’s not long before all hell breaks loose, and it seems Irons has a much greater link to all the mayhem than everyone thought.
The story opens masterfully, with a brilliant first mission that sets up the futuristic weaponry and atmosphere with elegance. The first half of the campaign keeps up this brilliant story telling with easy to understand plot lines and high octane set pieces that look like they were taken from a yet-to-be-make Hollywood movie.
Sadly the second half of the games campaign fails to keep up this action packed atmosphere in an attempt to focus more on the story. It’s also at this point that the games story starts to make less sense, with plot holes and convinces popping up all over the place. Thankfully the level design and set pieces are all still great, but there are great down times where you’re forced to sit and listen for hours to a story that isn’t all that well written.
Thankfully the gameplay in AW is so fantastic and fast paced that having a few moments downtime for the story is a fair exchange for the joy you feel when playing. From the moment you start, you’re thrown into the battlefield with futuristic guns and superhuman abilities to help you take down the enemy threat. It’s crazy how a little mechanic such as the exo suit manages to change everything.
The ability to super jump and use boosters to survive falls changes how you rush into situations, allowing you to dash in, do some damage and jump back out in a blink of an eye. And with a handful of useful grenades on hand at all times, you can use a spotter to find all the enemies before throwing in an EMP and blinding them all temporarily as you slaughter them all. You feel like a walking death machine and that never stops being fun.
The campaign also includes challenges and a level up system, a first for the series. And while it’s a cool idea, it may negatively affect quite a few players. Killing enemies, landing headshots, finding Intel and getting grenade kills rewards you with tokens to level up your character in the campaign.
The upgrades aren’t massive, but having a 60% less flinch when shot is a great bonus. However if you’re the kind of player who doesn’t like collecting Intel or using grenades, your character will be slightly less powerful nearer the end of the game. While none of this is game breaking, it feels a bit annoying having to be forced to use grenades for ages just to get another upgrade point.
Moving onto the online front, Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer is one of the most well balanced Call of Duty games in a long time.
Taking clear inspiration from games such as Titanfall, the main focus of the online is all about consistent movement. You run around and use your super jump / super dash abilities to quickly zip around the map and catch other players off guard. There’s very little downtime in multiplayer, and camping seems to be a reduced to a small selection of players, but it’s those who move around that seem to do the best.
Maps now also change half way through the game. These changes could be as simple as a building being dropped down onto the map, to a new area the same size as the original map opening up and the old map being flooded with poisonous gas. It’s crazy! Thanks to these mid-game changes, the matches feel constantly fresh and changing, as tactics have to be changed to secure victory.
While the verity of guns may be smaller than previous games, it means that there are a lot less guns to try and balance out. This means that each gun feels powerful and enjoyable to use. No one gun feels more overpowered than another and finding what gun is best all just comes down to personal preference.
The game also includes an exo survival mode (E.G horde mode from Gears of War). It’s not exactly zombies and it probably won’t win any awards for being the next big thing, but it’s nice to have another type of game to play. The most important thing about it is that if you manage to finish every exo survival level you are rewarded with a teaser for the upcoming zombies DLC. So while the game type isn’t the best thing in the world, having a neat little goal at the end that rewards your effort is nice.
Overall, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare is one of the best Call of Duty games in recent memory. It combines action packed gameplay with a fantastic campaign and well balanced multiplayer to make one of the best first person shooters of 2014. Everyone can find something they love in this gorgeous futuristic shooter.