If it’s November then you know it’s Call of Duty time and this year is of course no exception. An announcement this year reviled that Activision has put the game on a three developer cycle and the first team in that new rotation is Sledgehammer Games and their Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. How does it fair you ask? Let’s just say when it comes to duty, the guys and gals at Sledgehammer like theirs advanced. Welcome to the future of 2054 where the act of war is still good for business. Not only that, it’s a great place for trend setting fashion--enter the main gimmick for this years Call of Duty installment, the EXO suit; a cyber frame that allows the modern day solider to jump higher, run faster, dash in different directions, wield above human strength and so much more. Not only that, the suit houses a series of different talents, like the ability to create a riot shield for protection, ability to heal or how about activate a “Predator” like cloaking camouflage and so much more. All of which are at your disposal through the story campaign and multiplayer experience.
Think of the EXO suit in the vein and look of Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium with a slight nod to the gameplay mechanics of Halo as you run around with Call of Duty physics, hit boxes with a tiny dash of Titianfall flare minus the mechs--mind blown.
Speaking of the campaign, the narrative of Advanced Warfare puts you in control of a discarded marine by the name of Jack Mitchell who lost his arm and a close friend in a mission. Now crippled physical and emotionally Mitchell is released by the military and ends up in the employ of Atlas Corporation, a private military and weapon manufactures run by Jonathan Irons played by Kevin “don’t call me K-Pax” Spacey; the father of Mitchell’s military buddy Will, who was killed in action.
Now with an EXO suit and a new cybernetic arm Mitchell is as awesome as he ever was. While proving his worth as a ruthless terrorist organization is wrecking havoc in exotic locations and it’s up to the Atlas Corporation to shut them down.
While there’s nothing particularly bad with the narrative or the voice acting, it just that it feels very uninspiring and a bit boring. If you are remotely paying attention you’ll be able to keep up with the beats and “twists” that the story lays out. Presentation wise it keeps to the same follow the leader and kill assholes in your formula that the series is known for. They do mix it up by adding some awkward vehicle parts to a few missions that just feel clunky and out of place. I would really love to see the series do a full blown co-op narrative aka Halo: Reach. If they lose the computer AI and throw in some friends I’d be in heaven.
Don’t be too discouraged though because there are tons of classic “Call of Duty moments” placed throughout, where the action hits such ridiculous points that everyone involved should be dead. A typical action game cliché for sure but fun nonetheless.
In the multiplayer mode aka the only reason you bought it, the first thing you will notice is that this games is fast. The EXO suit is to blame for this but don’t fret because there is a mode without the suit for a classic feel. The game’s mechanics are tried and true COD, the weapons for instance all get a future weapons look to them. The real treat is the grenades that can be switched on the fly for any kind of engagement. Click on them and cycle them into EMP mode for electronic based foes like drones or flip them to SMART mode where they will lock onto targets and detonate. There are more options all of which are very cool and effective.
The coolest thing other than playing dress-up with your solider in the MP lobby is the ability to customize your favorite kill streaks. They all can be improved and tweaked to your liking and play style. Example, if you have a UAV you can add upgrades to make it refresh the mini map faster to spot the opposition. The point sum increases to activate it but its way more useful when you do. That’s just one of examples of the addition of customizations that is drizzled throughout the game.
There’s also a new game type called, “Uplink” that is basically a faster version of Neutral CTF/Bomb. You take the satellite ball and take it to the other team’s base. I can’t say I was all that impressed with it but hey at least SledgeHammer tried something new. There is also a co-op mode dubbed "Exo Survival" that is basically horde mode where you and a team attempt to survive waves and waves of enemies. I know what you’re thinking, but where are the zombies! Well it’s hard to say because that was Treyarch thing (and they fucked it up in Black Ops 2 but whatever) so who knows. Word on the street is that something zombie-ish could be coming in DLC next year.
In short the multiplayer is that old COD bicycle, once you learn the maps, find your favorite places to camp and put a suppressor on your favorite submachine gun you’ll be back in kill streak business in no time. On a side note I will say that the map design and speed of the game do slightly seem to limit the camping…slightly.
After the crap fest that was Call of Duty: Ghost the series needed to do something that would reinvigorate the franchise and basically make fans forget that stinker. So there no doubt was a lot of pressure placed on SledgeHammer’s Call of Duty Advance War Fighter to at least reach that goal and for the most part the team delivered. While it’s no COD: Black Ops, hats off to Sledgehammer for attempting to set itself apart by growing the franchise in a new a positive direction.
Rated: Mature Developer: Sledgehammer Games Publisher: Activision Price: $59.99 USD Release Date: 11/3/14 Platform Reviewed: X-Box One