Activision is back with yet another entry into the tired and redundant Call of Duty franchise with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. This time, developer Sledgehammer Games, was fully behind the project as opposed to their last entry , Modern Warfare 3, that was done as a cooperative effort between them and Infinity Ward. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare takes place in the not-too-distant future, spanning years 2054-2060. The plot follows Private Jack Mitchell (voiced by Troy Baker) whom loses his arm and fellow soldier/ best friend in a battle against North Korea. It just so happens that his now-deceased best friend’s father is CEO of an extremely powerful military contractor, the Atlas Corporation. The CEO, Jonathan Irons (voiced by Kevin Spacey) takes Mitchell under his wing and replaces his non-consensually amputated arm with a prosthetic, robotic arm. Oh, he also gives him a bunch of gadgets and firepower that is as awesome as it is completely unnecessary and wasteful of government funds ( sound familiar?). From here, you find yourself switching sides and joining a US team that is assembled with the purpose of taking Irons down. One of those stereotypical good guy takes down bad guy plots. The story is one of the biggest assets to Advanced Warfare. While it isn’t flawless, by any means, it does have a decent plot and remains enjoyable throughout. You can certainly expect some extravagant amounts of madness while you trek through Advanced Warfare’s campaign. In comparison to previous entries into the series, AW’s campaign feels like it is making more strides towards being a blockbuster film story than a war story. Not that this is a terrible thing, but the choice to go more towards copious amounts of action and explosions cause the campaign to feel more like a project under the wing of Michael Bay than a Call of Duty entry. That being said, I still had a fun time with the campaign and I can’t deny the fact that the fun factor isn’t there. It just seems like they’re straying from the path and it’s evolving into something a little less familiar. I typically stay away from spoilers, but I will say that there is no “shock” level in Advanced Warfare, so no blowing up an elementary school or anything like that. Sorry, bros. (DISCLAIMER: Peeridium does not condone the destruction of any educational establishment; nor any establishment full of children, or even just people in general.)
The Exo-Survival mode is a wave-based game mode meant for cooperative play for up to 4 players. It allows players to choose from a variety of stages, tiered 1-4, and choose a difficulty. I think Exo-Survival was a good addition to the game and offered a fun experience, but it did manage to get tired sooner than it should’ve after an extended period of continuous play. Normally, wave-based games of any kind are very addicting to me but exo-survival and its painful learning curve leaves little room for the addictive feel. I played a few rounds with a good friend on Regular difficulty when I first played the game, and, by wave 3, there was an abundance of enemies that seemed far too overbearing for two players on such an early level. It felt as if the developers didn’t design the mode to recognize how many people were playing the mode, but rather just gear it all for four players. A couple days later, I hopped on with my brother whom is a Call of Duty addict and we played about 10 matches or so on Regular (Regular difficulty because I am not an addict to CoD like him) and it was a much better experience. I’m not sure if his expertise assisted in countering the overbearing waves of enemies, or if the Exo-Survival mode was nerfed with an update, but it did seem a lot more manageable with my second playthrough. Every time you start a round of Exo-Survival, you’re prompted to pick one of three different classes, and you’re equipped with basic weapons and no attachments. As you progress through the waves you’re rewarded upgrade points for things like completing a wave or objective. With these points, you can visit upgrade boxes and upgrade your exo abilities, refill your ammo, purchase attachments, weapons, etc. More attachments and weapons require you to reach a certain level of progression before they can be purchased. This adds its own sense of strategy because you have to decide if you want to purchase that new sight for your current weapon to make aiming a bit easier or if you want to hold out and aim down the iron sights for one more round so you can purchase that next upgrade. The aforementioned objectives are a nice asset to the mode because they keep the game interesting rather than the focus just being to eliminate all the enemies. The completion of objectives is a rewarding feeling, and you aren’t just prompted to complete them before the wave is over, you have to complete them in a limited time. I had the most fun with the exo-suit in this game mode because it helped me just barely escape death with double-jumping or strafing and it left room for some badass kills (ie: double jumping off of a building and melee-ing someone on the way down). Exo-Survival has some nice maps, wonky difficulty, and a great upgrade system; all leading to a pretty fun, but quickly redundant game mode.
What if I told you that Call of Duty multiplayer is the same every year? In all seriousness, or, at least, the greatest abundance of seriousness I can muster, I had a decent time with Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer. I repeat, I had a DECENT time with it. Not at all an outstanding experience, but not the horrible, decrepit experience a lot of Call of Duty naysayers insist it offers. The leveling system with Advanced Warfare is very rewarding. In the beginning, if you can at least hold your own (which, for me, means going less than -5 K/D) you’re likely to unlock multiple guns and attachments just after a few rounds. While I am terrible at Call of Duty multiplayer, I was actually getting a good amount of kills (15-20 per round) that was sadly diminished by my deaths which have always strived to prove themselves greater than my kill count. I leveled up quickly, and unlocked my favorite sight (which is thankfully the first you unlock for each weapon), the red dot sight, after just two rounds. It was a good feeling to unlock new weapons, attachments, et cetera after nearly every single round of play. It was definitely motivation to push through that next round or push to that next level to see what was just up around the bend. I messed around with a few game modes: Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Capture the Flag, Search and Destroy, and Free For All (because I like being virtually tea-bagged hard and often). Capture The Flag really offers one of the most wholeheartedly competitive experiences in the entire multiplayer due to the addition of the Exo-Suit.
Call of Duty multiplayer, to me, has earned the reputation of being only about speed and nothing about actual skill… which is predominantly accurate. The Exo-Suit really provides an upper-hand to the person being shot at because now you have the chance to respond and save yourself. The gameplay is still focused on speed and fast reaction time, but with the quick, double-tap of the jump button, or a strafe in any direction can allow you to escape the clutches of death, and sometimes even buy you enough time to retaliate and turn the tables. These capabilities made Capture the Flag really stand out to me because it was more focused on evasive maneuvers than just praying you have a clear shot at returning to your base. The Exo-Suit, in general, is the sole reason I had such a good time with AW’s multiplayer. Controlling the suit came natural to me, which gave me a competitive edge in this franchise’s multiplayer for the first time since the slower paced days of Call of Duty 2 & 3. Not much has changed in the match types from previous iterations. Fan favorites have returned like Search & Destroy and Kill Confirmed, which was expected but is also nice to see.
However, there is a new mode called the Combat Readiness Program, which is designed for newer, less experienced players. There is no voice chat in Combat Readiness, and the classes are preselected for you to prevent the player from making any newbie decisions. I haven’t played with Combat Readiness at all because, hell, with a .68 K/D ratio I feel like the end all, be all of professional gaming. MLG, here I come! The only other noteworthy difference in the multiplayer for Advanced Warfare is the alteration of the “Pick 10” system to a “Pick 13” system. This allows you to pick 13 points worth of items between weapons, attachments, et cetera to build your character classes. I liked this system better because, right out of the gate, I was able to put together the exact class that I wanted without having to make any critical decisions and leaving something crucial out of play. Since it’s become quite a talking point with recent multiplayer game launches, I figured it’s worth mentioning that I did not have any issues with the servers when trying to connect to a match. In most cases, it took merely seconds and I was already on the loading screen for a match. This is to be expected given the massive volume of players that Activision expects to be playing this game, but the servers are running phenomenally like they should (I’m looking at you, Battlefield 4!). Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer feeds solely off of its previous success, yet again, with very minimal innovations, returning fan-favorite match types, and arguably addictive gameplay. There were some slight updates/ upgrades to the overall package, and the inclusion of the Exo-Suit adds quite the competitive edge. Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer offers great execution of a progressively tiring franchise.
There isn’t an abundance of graphical innovation, but the game does run very smooth on this new generation of console gaming. Despite the fast pacing of the game, the visuals remain fluid at all times; even when the shit really hits the fan like something out of a Michael Bay film. However, the minor details in the game remain as simplistic as they are in previous entries. Nothing is destructible and things like trees don’t have the visual definition that I’d like to see on something of this gaming generation. I don’t typically gripe about graphics, and Call of Duty is a franchise that is far from focused on minor visual detail such as that, but this is a game that sells millions of copies every year and millions of DLC packages so I think lackluster visuals on this new generation of console gaming is inexcusable, at best.
It’s Call of Duty with double jump, badass grenades, and Kevin Spacey. If you are unfamiliar with the franchise, I recommend picking up an older, less expensive title before jumping on board with this one. If you are familiar with the Call of Duty franchise, the first sentence should help you determine if you’re going to be grabbing this game or not. I think this one is at least worth trying, and I am typically a naysayer of anything Call of Duty. It’s nothing spectacular, but I did have fun with it.