• Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: Sledgehammer Games (PS4), Raven (Multiplayer), and High Moon Studios (PS3 Port)
  • Release Date: November 3, 2014
  • PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 Retail/Digital

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare represents rapid changes to CoD formula with new mechanics, redone graphics engine, and one of the better CoD campaigns in years. The game is set 40 or so years in the future were exoskeleton suits, lasers weapons, and genetically targeted bioweapons exist.

Through the campaign you play as Marine Corps solider Jack Mitchell played by Troy Baker (MGSV and The Last of Us) who loses his left arm and friend Will Irons. After Will’s funeral in Arlington National Cemetery, he is invited by Will’s father, and CEO of the influential PMC (Private Military Company) Atlas Inc., James Irons, were he’s given a second chance. James is played by the iconic Kevin Spacey from Netflix TV series House of Cards, and is great as your benefactor turned villain. As you go on through the missions it is your typical Modern Military Shooter with your double crosses, heavily scripted set pieces, and quick time events. The concise if clichéd dialogue was penned by The Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal. What the game is trying to comment on is the possible overreach of PMCS (Private Military Companies) throughout the world much like 2008‘s Metal Gear Solid 4, but with a far more straightforward story. It’s also one of Call of Duty’s most coherent ones were it focuses on one character much like last year’s Ghosts and unlike Modern Warfare or Black Ops which had multiple arcs. It’s an interesting experiment and has a variety of gadgets such as a grappling hook and a legitimate one-man stealth segment to break up the typical pitched battles.

The first thing you will notice about the game are the graphics. As this is Sledgehammer Game’s first outing with a full Call of Duty title, it shows some eerily photo realistic character models of the main characters and villains. There is also of large size with a dab of motion blur to enhance it. What you can’t tell is that is still runs on the old Quake 3 engine from decade past. Other areas such as the game’s particle effects and flames dazzle. Most of the animation is new as well. The only low point are the backgrounds which unlike the characters models seem a bit flat, but you won’t notice at all since it’s such a top notch presentation.

The sound is also a vast improvement from last year’s entry with weapons sounding more pronounced than the peashooters from Ghosts. Almost every sound effect seems new, and the weapons have an added punch. I especially love the bassy sound of your Exo-powered knife attack. This is also very helpful in multilayer since it indicates someone might be flanking you. The Voice Acting is top notch with supporting actors such as Gideon Emmery (Battlefield 3), Khary Payton (MGS4), and newcomer Angela Gots. The music was done by Harry Gregson-Williams who  scored Metal Gear Solid 2-5, and movies from The Rock to Chicken Run. He shows his versatility with the appropriate military drums with some electronica. Unfortunately, this is the weakest point of the audio since it’s not very memorable.

Now, onto the most important thing: the multiplayer. As you expect the MP package has your typical suite of modes from Team Death Match, Kill Confirmed, Domination, and Search & Destroy. Call of Duty 3 and World at War’s War game mode is re-introduced as Momentum were two teams must capture five flags, but unlike domination the games ends once all flags are capped. This causes communication and tactics to be key to victory as the more flags that are captured the higher the capture rate. A favorite mode of mine is Uplink which is similar to Halo’s Oddball, but with a twist. Unlike that mode were you have to hold the ball for two minutes, you have throw into a basket much like a lethal version of basketball. If a ball carrier has the ball they can pass to enemy who is unable to shoot, and you can get a free kill with it. It is frenetic and highly entertaining. It’s a great break from fragging a bunch of randoms. So far the online performance, is spotty at best, but with the promise of dedicated servers and the obligatory patches should help it a bit.

The expanded control system has freshened up the once stale formula from Ghosts. The first thing you will notice is the double jump, which is supported by your exo suit. You can also double tap to the sides and do a hop step back which is helpful for dodging pesky snipers. This gives the game new sense of verticality but will make you more vulnerable midair. This will make you twitchier in terms of movements and when to fire. The MP mechanics are topped of a with the fan favorite, Pick-12 from Black Ops 2, now restructured as Pick 13 which allows you to sacrifice your Scorestreaks (Also lifted from Black Ops 2) for more perks. Launcher thrown grenades can be swapped for Exo equipment for things such as faster health regen, speed, and even a shield which make things that were once perks or equipment  more appropiate for situational use. The weapons range from your typical assault rifle to prototype heavy lasers, and shockwave based shotguns. All the weapons having excellent sound effects, and have a unique feel.

The final part of the package is Survival; this game mode is the weakest of all since it lacks the variety and context of Modern Warfare’s Special Ops or the humor and intensity of Black Op’s Zombie mode. The mode is similar to Modern Warfare 3‘s were up to 4 players are pitted against 25 rounds of enemies initially, and unlocks an infinite mode. If you liked MW3‘s survival mode, you might have a lot of fun. I thought it was a bit boring, but rounds out a solid package.

The question is should you pick up Advanced Warfare? The answer is a resounding yes to fans, and people who are disenchanted with the franchise might like the new mechanics while at the same time retain the core feel. For shooter fans that prefer larger maps and vehicular gameplay in games such as Battlefield will most likely be uninterested.

Rating 8/10

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