Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: review

  • Format: PS4 (version reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: Sledgehammer Games
  • Players: 1-2 (offline), 2-18 (online)
  • Site: http://www.callofduty.com/advancedwarfare/

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the first in the series to benefit from three years of development time. It was created by Sledgehammer Games, who helped co-develop Modern Warfare 3, and sees the series move into the mid-21st century. This jump into the future brings lots of futuristic weaponry, vehicles like hoverbikes and specialised drones, and gives the player an exo-suit that enables you to boost jump, use a grappling hook, and even go all Harry Potter with a cloaking device to turn invisible. While the futuristic setting and James Bond gadgets are a welcome change, are they enough to revolutionise the series or is it merely an evolutionary step for Activision’s multi-billion dollar franchise?

The new exo-suit really adds another dimension to the gameplay in Advanced Warfare.

Advanced Warfare puts the player into the boots of Marine Jack Mitchell, who along with his best friend Will Irons finds himself stationed in South Korea in the midst of a massive North Korean invasion. The Marines manage to repel the invaders, but at the cost of 6000 lives, including Will’s. Jack loses his left arm in the struggle, and on his return is approached by Will’s father played by the imposing Kevin Spacey. Irons offers him a place in his private military company Atlas, who help rebuild Mitchell with a high-tech prosthetic arm and state-of-the-art gear. The plot of Advanced Warfare is along the lines of a James Bond action movie, and it delivers plenty of spectacle in its run time. The graphics are really impressive, especially the highly detailed actors’ faces that are as close to photo-real as you could hope for. The campaign has plenty of bombastic moments as you’d expect, and there is a lot of variety to each of the missions, from protecting your squad while they infiltrate an enemy base with a drone, to grappling your way up a skyscraper, jumping your way along moving cars on a motorway, to using stealth to infiltrate an enemy stronghold. The game always throws something new at you. However, the regular series staples of breaching doors and the linear levels do feel quite tired now, especially when you are given the tremendous power and gadgets of the exo-suit to run riot with. In fact a few of the levels feel overfamiliar, almost to the point of cutting and pasting them from a previous game. That being said the campaign is a lot of fun, and compared to the turkey shoot of Black Ops 2, Advanced Warfare is a marked improvement.

As you’d expect in a Call of Duty, there are plenty of Michael Bay style set pieces. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the highlights.

Call of Duty wouldn’t be Call of Duty without a multiplayer mode, and Advanced Warfare brings the usual template of Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Search and Destroy along with other favourites. The game also has an Exo Survival mode, which is basically the co-op Zombie or Extinction mode from previous games, with your squad (of up to four) attempting to survive increasingly more ferocious waves of enemies. Exo Survival is a nice diversion, but it lacks any co-op specific weapons or levels that made the Zombie mode in Black Ops so good. Exo Survival even uses the same maps from the multiplayer game, which is disappointing considering all the fresh ideas the futuristic setting brings with it. There are thirteen maps available in multiplayer, which have a distinct variety of locales. From the run down streets of Detroit to the futuristic Japanese garden of Greenband, each level has quite a unique setting. The levels are all quite well designed, and during our play test we only noticed a couple of instances of camping, which is a vast improvement from previous entries in the series, where there were more campers than you’d expect at a music festival. The exo-suit adds an extra dimension to the gameplay with the added verticality meaning you need to really be on your guard, as foes can appear out of nowhere, although it can also give you the advantage. The only niggle was in the Greenband level there is a huge drop in the middle of the level, which we fell down countless times as we leaped around. For those players who prefer to play the game the old fashioned way without the manoeuverability of the exo-suit, there is an option to play ‘Classic’ mode which removes the exo-suit abilities; but thereby removes half of the fun.

The grappling hook is a great new gadget, although you don’t get much freedom to use it, which is disappointing.

The gameplay zips along at great pace as you’d expect, and unlike Battlefield 4 it works from day one. We never encountered any lag while playing, and it only crashed once on us during a multiplayer session. The gunplay is as solid as ever, and you can customise every aspect of your avatar, from your boots and helmet to the usual perks and weapon upgrades. There is a new loot system that earns you a supply drop box after each game. This gives you random items such as rare weaponry, an extra perk or multiplayer XP bonus, or an article of character gear to customise your online avatar. Advanced Warfare also has a new game mode in Uplink, which is almost like a game of basketball. Players have to get to the centre of the map to retrieve a satellite drone, they then dash to the enemy uplink station and throw the drone into the station. While you have the ‘ball’ you can pass it on to another player, which means communication is key to winning. We found Uplink to be a great new addition to the multiplayer roster, and it was a whole lot of fun to play.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a welcome return to form for the long running series. It’s perhaps a tad disappointing that they have stuck quite rigidly to the successful Call of Duty formula, but you can’t really blame them for playing it safe with so many fans to keep happy. The movement of the exo-suit is a brave new addition, but it works really well and adds another dimension to the gameplay. Advanced Warfare has everything you’d expect from the series, from the set pieces of the linear campaign to the fluid and slick multiplayer. While it’s not quite the revolution that you might hope for, it’s by far the best Call of Duty since the series’ Modern Warfare heyday.

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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