CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE
I was sceptical when Sledgehammer vowed to overhaul and contribute a different instalment to the Call of Duty franchise. Sledgehammer are not new to the franchise however, as they were involved in the development of Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 3 in 2011. I was very much wrong footed with the announcement of Advanced Warfare, though irritation would be more accurate as the new three year cycle that Activision are now employing would mean another year wait for the next instalment of Treyarch’s Zombies. Advanced Warfare however is one of those games I had to buy, compelled by intrigue and whispers of Zombies.
The campaign of Advanced Warfare is very familiar to any Call of Duty fan. Though not necessarily a criticism, as all the hype has informed us of a reimagined campaign experience – eye-rolling moments were rife; the ‘Follow’ objective, breaching and opening doors.
The campaign mode begins in Seoul, where US marine Private Jack Mitchell is engaged in battle alongside his squad-mate Will Irons. Will is killed as his arm is caught in the bomb door and Mitchell’s left arm is severed by high speed debris. Mitchell is discharged but after attending a funeral for Will, he is approached by Will’s father Jonathan Irons (played by the fabulous Kevin Spacey) who conveniently is CEO of Atlas Corporation; a private military force. He offers Mitchell an advanced prosthetic arm and invites him to join the organisation. When a terrorist group called KVA enacts terrorism on the world, governments turn to Atlas; carnage ensues.
Though a compelling, satisfying story Advanced Warfare follows a rigid structure that rarely deviates or surprises. It contains some outstanding performances that owes much to the expression and facial performance of the animated characters. Kevin Spacey positively shines, owning his role with charisma and authority. Political motivation and global ramifications of warfare has always been Call of Duty’s bread and butter but Advanced Warfare carries a distinct message through it’s social comment on technology and the abuse it could hypothetically be subject to in the future. Nuclear and terrorist possibilities are still a concern to all nations of the world and this point comes across strongly in Advanced Warfare. That is about as political as I get.
Visually Advanced Warfare is as slick as you can get – so with all this praise, inventive controls and dynamic environments, one could not possibly find fault could they? Unfortunately Yes. Don’t get me wrong this is the best Call of Duty on next generation consoles but the simple fact is Activision seem to be adamantly confining the franchise to conform to a formula. Of course there are very nifty changes and additions but it is fundamentally the same game. I understand fully that they have to appeal to a market and retain the hallmarks of what has made the franchise so successful, but shouldn’t they innovate instead of upgrade? Expect the campaign to last no more than 4 hours, obviously dependant on difficulty and skill.
Multiplayer of Advanced Warfare (and any Call of Duty game) is the major selling point, and honestly is pretty much all I care about. When previewed at E3 I dismissed the game as a Halo/Call of Duty hybrid with the added abilities of Iron Man. Though it maybe interesting putting it in those terms, it felt like the most drastic change since the date shift in Black Ops 2.
As with any Call of Duty, the maps are varied and one quickly becomes accustomed to skip certain maps – (cough) Greenband… All 13 of the current standard maps are constructed to take advantage of verticality, required due to the new Exo-Suit. The heights and boundaries of the maps are somewhat annoying in terms of the inconsistent spots players are able to reach, though I appreciate that great heights are a major advantage. The dynamic environments forces the player to adapt to changes in the map, for example in the map ‘Defender’ one has to content with a Tsunami that crashes halfway through a game and forces a player to evacuate the lower levels. These dynamics are far more prevalent than that of Black Ops 2 and Ghosts. Though I abhor campers, Activision and their various studios have built maps that deliberately make it hard to camp or sniper in the recent Call of Duty games. This effectively dictates gameplay and telling people what to do is never good for the human psyche, especially when it comes to Call of Duty 🙂
The new Exo-Suit, is the most refreshing addition that has been included in Call of Duty for a long time. The Exo-Suit transforms multiplayer completely, which was most evident when I tried the classic playlists which inhibit this ability. On a classic Team Deathmatch I soon began to miss being able to boost and fly around the map like some limited Iron Man, this realisation increased my appreciation of an ability I initially thought of as silly. Not only does the Exo-Suit ramp up the energy of every game mode, it almost prohibits camping… almost.
It may be a surprising thing to say, but the lack of weaponry really took me aback when it came to multiplayer. Sure there are loads of attachments, gadgets and combinations of perks but I really found the limited range of weaponry quite odd for a next-generation game. Among the artillery we have only three shotguns and four (maybe three) of the most horrible snipers I have ever come across in Call of Duty. The last sniper to unlock at rank 38 is the ‘Atlas 20mm’, which unfortunately looks like the most impractical weapon ever. Not only does it look like a ‘Stinger’ and cover half the screen, the sight is inhibiting which is a huge disadvantage in multiplayer. And the perks… I don’t want “Gung-Ho” or “Fast Hands”, I want “Sleight of Hand” for gods sake!
Inventive but familiar, Advanced Warfare employs all of what you would expect from a Call of Duty game but refreshing features such as the Exo-Suit really does change the state of game – metaphorically and literally. Sledgehammer really have lived up to their promise of reinventing Call of Duty, though to what extent is still somewhat questionable.