A new Call of Duty release is something that you can set your watch by (or calendar at least). Like FIFA, a new Call of Duty is a guaranteed release and a sure-fire bet to rake in the money. Unlike FIFA however, the Call of Duty franchise has been passed around to different developers allowing for different interpretations (both good and bad). This year’s Call of Duty Advanced Warfare was handed to Sledgehammer Games, and the new blood has paid off this time.
In 2054, Private Jack Mitchell (voiced by Troy Baker) of the United States Marine Corps participates in a battle against North Koreans in Seoul, along with his squadmates Private Will Irons and Sergeant Cormack. In the midst of the battle, Will is killed in action, while Mitchell’s left arm is severed from his shoulder, forcing him to be discharged from military service.
After attending a funeral service for Will (where we see one of the most awkward moments in the history of quicktime events), Mitchell is offered to join the Atlas Corporation, the world’s most powerful private military contractor, by CEO Jonathan Irons (Kevin Spacey), Will’s father. Mitchell gets a brand new prosthetic arm and armed to the teeth in return for joining Iron’s Atlas army.
The single player is undoubtedly a Call of Duty campaign, filled with action and massive explosions. The campaign is held together by Kevin Spacey both with his excellent voice acting and some remarkably good CGI that really give you the sense of being inside a movie. The campaign sees you take on various different missions with a selection of new tech in each mission. Strangely you never get to carry over any of the tech into your next mission, rather you get a new set of items each time – which I found a little strange. Overall the single player campaign does what it says on the box, delivering an explosive start to the game wrapped up in some beautiful graphics. It’s short but exciting and serves as the perfect warm-up for the multiplayer which, let’s face it, is where you will be spending most of your time.
The visuals in Advanced Warfare are really amazing with exceptional lighting and textures. While you often get absorbed into the gameplay (especially in multiplayer) and forget about the visual fidelity, there is no chance of that in the story mode. Every explosion, cutscene and close up shot of Kevin Spacey does a great job of reminding you just how gorgeous the game is. I was particularly appreciative of the aerial shots while approaching a drop off point.
The game really makes the most of the new-gen hardware to deliver a fantastic experience. The most impressive part is the frame-rate which despite the gorgeous visuals, manages to run at a super smooth 60 FPS on the PS4, keeping you glued to your screen as the action unfolds at blistering speed.
Gameplay & Multiplayer
Advanced Warfare has a fresh take on gameplay with the introduction of the exoskeleton suits. With these exo-suits you can expect to jump 25 metres in the air and rip a car door off to use as a shield. The inclusion of a cloak mode borrows directly from the Crysis series, but allows for even more gameplay variety. The inclusion of the suits is dramatic, adding another dimension to the gameplay – quite literally. Having the suits means a lot more jumping delivering more vertical play. You can expect to find enemies above and below you as well as around corners. It adds an element of Titan Fall to the experience while managing to keep the fast paced gunplay that the COD franchise is famous for.
The suit provides various different “powers” that you can equip in the loadout screen which builds on the pick-10 but now with 13 slots that you can customise. Customising these loadouts into a range of preset configurations is great, allowing you to adapt your approach swiftly while out on the battlefield.
This is especially useful when you tackle some of the new multiplayer modes like Uplink (a basketball-like mode that asks players to throw or slamdunk a drone in the enemy team’s airborne goal) or Momentum (which challenges a team to capture several flags in a short period of time) where speed becomes really important as you sprint from one end of the map to the other. Looking at the various multiplayer modes you can expect all the usual suspects (team deathmatch, kill confirmed, domination etc) as well as a host of new modes, totaling up to 12 multiplayer game modes – impressive.
Like many new AAA releases these days, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare had server issues at launch with quite a few days where I was unable to find a game despite waiting for ages. While most of this has been fixed I still struggle with the matchmaking for the less popular modes, whereas in modes like team deathmatch, you can get a game almost instantly. Sledgehammer games are aware of these issues and are working on fixing them through patches (there has already been a marked improvement).
As a whole the multiplayer gameplay is everything I want from a COD game, fast paced action built from the heritage of the franchise with just enough new elements added to make it exciting. While it may feel a bit strange at first, once you have racked up your first 100 kills you will be grinning from ear to ear. It’s fast, frenetic and fantastic. If you are a fan of the series then Advanced Warfare is a must.
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare was developed by Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision. We reviewed the game on a Playstation 4, it is also available on PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.