Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare Review: A Skip Ahead

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare review
out of 5

For a long-time series like Call of Duty, the threat of the games getting stale is always present. First we had World War II fatigue–which actually affected most military first person shooters. Then we had “oh sh*t moment” fatigue, as each Call of Duty game tried to have that one moment that got people talking, whether is was killing the player in a nuclear bomb blast or playing as a terrorist attacking an airport. The specter of too much “been there, done that” has hung over the series–which is now in its 10th core game–for years now, and Activision has done everything it could to keep things fresh.

That brings us to 2014, and the newest title in the series, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Advanced Warfare represents the third pillar of Call of Duty games, as Sledgehammer Games  joins Treyarch and Infinity Ward to present three different franchises that are scheduled to revolve in three year cycles. Treyarch is presumably working on Black Ops III, while Infinity Ward is working on Ghosts 2. As the first game in a new CoD thread, Advanced Warfare sets the stage for a world where the weapons and tech are more futuristic–even more than what was shown in Black Ops II, and by bringing in these new weapons and gear, Activision has breathed new life into the series, avoiding–for one more year, at least–the dreaded specter of staleness.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare review

The technology presented in Advanced Warfare makes for a new gaming experience.

The biggest advancement in gear is the new EXO suit. This gives players abilities that mirror, say, Master Chief from the Halo series. Boosted jumps, shields, grappling hooks, boost dodges, and so many other little features are included in the EXOs, which gives Advanced Warfare a whole new level of fun. Along with an armory of new weapons, grenades have also been advanced and are now programmable. There are two types, tactical and assault, and each type has multiple choices. There are target grenades, EMPs, and smart grenades, which seek out enemies like heat seekers. While the new grenades are very cool, stopping in mid-battle to find the type you need leaves you open to be shot, so its a dangerous game to play if you are trying to be overly cool with your grenades.

Advanced Warfare is the story of a soldier named Mitchell (voice of Troy Baker), a U.S. Marine who loses an arm in a battle and gets discharged by the USMC. He then goes to work for ATLAS, a Private Military Corporation (PMC) ran by Jonathan Irons (Academy Award Winner Kevin Spacey in both voice and mo-cap). The PMC is the best of the best, pulling off missions that governments can’t–or won’t–get involved in. But that kind of power corrupts, and when a new terrorist organization called the KVA rises, ATLAS is tasked to bring them down and in so doing, they usher in a terrible new world order.

Call of Duty is famous for its killer Summer blockbuster-like campaigns, and Advanced Warfare keeps that streak alive. Built from the ground up for new gen on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the graphics are amazing and the sound is so much better than previous CoD games. The lifelike character models are a true treat to look at, and the line between game and reality has been blurred here.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare review

The character models in Advanced Warfare are fantastic and incredibly life-like.

The addition of Kevin Spacey gives the campaign gravitas, and it essentially becomes a 6 to 8 hour movie. The story isn’t as strong as, say, the original Black Ops, which I thought was fantastic and still the best yet, but I really enjoyed myself while experiencing the story, and on the second and third play-throughs I found more to enjoy. The campaign here is not a throw-away (and it never should be). There’s some good stuff here, and that last chapter was one of the best times I’ve ever had in a Call of Duty game.  I’m interested to see where the Advanced Warfare story goes in the next chapter, and there will be another chapter.

New to Call of Duty is the EXO Survival Co-Op mode. This is a 1-4 player cooperative challenge where players survive wave after wave of enemies. There are 25 levels, and once 25 is breached, the map flips and starts over, with even tougher bad guys. I found myself playing this mode the most, as there is some real camaraderie with such a small group of folks all working together to survive. Its a far cry from the chaos of a team deathmatch-like scenario. Players can customize their characters o the fly with earned points, and even change classes during rounds if need be. “Cover me, I’m reloading” has never been more true than in this mode. One night, I was very lucky enough to get into a group of seasoned players and we tore the joint up for well over an hour and a half surviving everything that this game could throw at us. When our last man fell in the 43rd round, my TV speakers erupted with screams from my fellow fighters. We all felt that loss together. That was the first true sense of “team” that I have ever felt in a Call of Duty game. It was very welcome, and incredibly memorable.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare review

Multiplayer is back, and the new EXO Survival mode is a welcome addition to the series.

As for the online multiplayer, well, it’s Call of Duty. The new tech adds new wrinkles and gives players the same cool new abilities, but in the end, it’s still Team Deathmatch, Domination, Kill Confirmed, Capture The Flag, etc. Advanced Warfare does add to the number of players in a given match (18, up from 12, and still not close to what EA does with their Battlefield series), and the EXOs make for some fast and crazy matches, but its still more of the same. There are new weapons and attachments, and the new Pick 13 system give the player more customization options, but I’d like to see any of the Call of Duty studios revamp multiplayer and breathe new life into it, especially seeing how far the campaigns have come in style, gear, and presentation.

One other new feature is in the game-wide supply drops. Playing the different game modes (and playing them well) will cause supply drops to occur. The drops collect and wait for the player in the virtual lobby–also new–to be opened. These are gifts from above that contain new gear, weapons and skins. They are completely random, and certain drops contain “Elite” weapons. This new mode is a driving factor to keep playing, as you never know what you will get when you score one. In addition to the cool swag from drops, the ability to customize your character using the newly acquired gear is nice. You can choose the sex of the player, as well as heads, bodies, eyewear, boots and even the EXO itself. I’ve seen some very cool looking players on the battlefield, so the creative possibilities are limitless. It’s a nice touch.

Call of Duty is an annual treat for fans of FPS games, and with Advanced Warfare, the game has skipped into the future and is now bordering on science fiction more than ever. This isn’t a bad thing, as Sledgehammer Games knows what they are doing and it’s evident in the style and care given to even the smallest detail. The jump ahead works to keep most of the game fresh, but there is stagnation in the multiplayer modes, and I hope that Activision addresses it sooner rather than later, as other FPS games are getting better each year. I enjoy playing through the campaigns of Call of Duty annually, but 6 to 8 hours does’t justify the cost or the time invested to keep playing, and without major advancements in the multiplayer, I fear the entire franchise could soon suffer. The EXO Survival mode is a welcome addition and helps to give Advance Warfare an extra life, and the supply drops reward players who put in the time, and all in all, the franchise’s largest leap into the future is a major win for fans as the sky is now the limit as to what Sledgehammer Games can do in future installments.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was reviewed on PS4 and furnished by Activision for the purposes of this review. It is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360.

TheHDRoom may be paid a small commission for any services or products ordered through select links on this page.