Power changes everything. That’s what Kevin Spacey’s character, Jonathon Irons, has been telling us up until the release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. This is something that sets the atmosphere for Sledgehammer Games’ first solo entry into the CoD franchise. Plato tells us that “the measure of a man is what he does with power”, and that is equally as important when considering the latest Call of Duty.
The Call of Duty campaigns often receive complaints given their short running times, but to be honest it just fits the type of all out action that the games consist of. Advanced Warfare is no different in this regard. Yes, it is a little on the short side (or perfect length where I am concerned) but it more than makes up for it with its awesome moments and solid story line.
The story follows you as Mitchell, an officer who suffers the loss of your best friend in a mission early on. Even worse is that you lose your own arm in the aftermath. The father of your friend, fantastically portrayed by Kevin Spacey, brings you in to his company called Atlus Corporation, which provides you with a sort of bionic arm, and something called an Exo Suit, giving you lots of abilities lending to the name of Advanced Warfare.
Atlus is a global superpower for hire, and with Jonathon Irons at the lead he promises an end to war at any costs. I am sure you can see where this is going, but despite the relatively generic plot, the game follows a great storyline filled with action-packed sequences that make you feel as though you’re in one incredible action movie.
The single player campaign is fast-paced from the word go and provides some intense moments. Speed chases on a highway, driving a hoverbike, climbing into a full on mech suit, and even riding an advanced tank. CoD: Advanced Warfare offers up great sequences that will have you going ‘wow’ more than once. Nothing quite matched the repelling down the building section in Ghosts for me, but overall it’s easy to say that this campaign was much better.
The gameplay adds so much value to the campaign (and multiplayer) in that you have all these new abilities mixed with some brilliantly designed gunplay. I have already mentioned some of the cool things you get to try, but even just your standard suit makes the game incredibly fun. Your Exo suit comes with certain abilities which can be used when needed most.
Standard operation of the suit includes things like an air dash, a double jump, and boosts sideways and backwards to evade attacks. Managing this is key to survival in Advanced Warfare and at the same time it makes things a whole lot faster on the ground. This in turn adds to the pace of the action and the adrenaline rush that entire case of Red Bull won’t even match.
Other abilities including slowing down time very briefly, a healing mechanism and a sonic boom type effect to put enemies off their game. There are a bunch of others which are used and combining them with the gunplay make it some experience overall.
There are two problems with the gameplay in general. The first is that enemies are not marked which makes it very difficult to tell apart your team members from enemies. It resulted in a fair few restarts for friendly fire kills. The other is that when aiming down the sights you seem to lose focus a little bit, almost like the camera is obscuring you. With a bit of practice you can adapt, but it just feels a little off.
There’s a lot more that can be said about the gameplay, but it’s really one of those things you just need to experience for yourself. If you want the best action a game has to offer, you need to play this.
The graphics, for the majority, are pretty stellar. The animations and character models are quite amazing and set to a futuristic backdrop. Any chance you get between the action to look around you most certainly will. There were a few levels that didn’t look quite as good as the rest, but for the most part it looks amazing.
The CGI cutscenes are on a different level, but at the same time it makes you feel a little sad that the in-game graphics aren’t quite that good just yet. In time maybe they will be.
A lot has been said about different resolutions, but I honestly can’t say anything looked off in the so called 900p version. Everything looks stunning when it should, and the frame rate (seeing as people make an issue of this) never dropped once, it’s quite something playing with such fluidity.
The performances from all the voice actors are near perfect. Kevin Spacey delivers his performance like he was born for it, and of course we have the always excellent Troy Baker playing your main character. With talent like that, you can’t really complain. I did notice a few out of sync lines here and there, but all in all it was wonderful.
The sound effects from the guns and grenades, and surrounding sounds were as good as you would hope and completely supplement the in-game action. Even the bit where you have to manage a little robot wasp was almost exactly as you would imagine it sounding. It’s a brilliant job all round.
The multiplayer section more than makes up for the relatively short campaign, with plenty of modes returning and lots of options for each mode. Things like Team Death Match and Capture the Flag return, so does Search and Destroy, and a few other favourites. A new mode called Uplink also makes its debut where you have to find a ball on the level and drop it through a portal in an almost basketball-like fashion.
The multiplayer is fast and frenetic as you’d expect. There’s undoubtedly some influence from Titanfall in the game which is not a bad thing. The new exo abilities make it action sequence every second, and that is further emphasized by the new maps. The design contains a lot more verticality (you should ask David to try say that word… he can’t) which suits the style so much better than large, open maps that feel flat in many ways.
There were a lot of complaints around the servers and lag, but I must admit that I hardly had any issue finding games, nor with lag which made the experience quite sublime. Take note that many have complained and you might very well find it an issue, however slight.
There are also lots of upgrades in the multiplayer section of the game making it worthwhile to keep playing so you can match up with the finest out there. Unless you are like me and will continue to suck no matter how much you play.
The co-op mode is called Exo-Survival and has you playing with friends in a horde mode type event where you need to defend certain areas and complete objectives through different waves of attacks. Co-op is definitely my favourite of the multiplayer modes and while it is a little bit limited, there is just nothing better than taking down a few enemies with some friends.
It’s a pity that there is just one co-op mode and that Zombies will be an add-on. It makes it feel a little empty without a few more options, but at least what it does offer is a pretty solid experience.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is defined by its action packed sequences from start to finish. There are some great characters along the way and the new abilities make for a game that will have you smiling from the joy all the way through.
You may feel a little aggrieved at the short campaign, but if you are into multiplayer and co-op the experience lasts a lot longer. Sledgehammer Games have developed a game that will have you playing it through more than once, it’s just that good, and I think it’s fair to say that they would make Plato proud in what they have done with their power while making this game.