Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Platform: PC, PS3/PS4, and Xbox One/360
A PS4 copy of Advanced Warfare was supplied to us
It’s Call of Duty season which means it’s time for Mountain Dewritos jokes and constant explosions to fill your social media news feed. Ever since the release of Call of Duty 4 back in 2007 it’s been a nonstop onslaught of games from the series with Infinity Ward and Treyarch taking turns each year to churn out each game. To give each studio some much needed breathing room to work, Activision has decided to bring another studio into the mix to spice things up. I honestly wasn’t expecting much since I don’t think the series has been particularly good since Black Ops but Sledgehammer shook up the stale formula so much I can’t imagine ever going back.
Advanced Warfare opens predictably with you in the middle of a war zone, bullets flying everywhere and explosions happening half a dozen times per minute. Soon after you’re hired by Kevin Spacey to join his PMC army which totally won’t reveal itself to be the bad guys halfway through the game. I can’t talk about the campaign without bringing up Kevin Spacey who’s great if you can ignore how soulless his eyes look. For once I actually wanted to gather all the intel in a mission as they delve a little deeper into his character and motivations, all with a fantastic performance from Spacey. My main complaint with the campaign is how they went to the effort to get someone like Troy Baker only to have him speak during the mission briefings. The silent protagonist in-game is still super awkward but it at least worked before since your character never spoke; having him speak during mission briefings but not in the missions themselves is just super dumb and a waste of talent. Besides all that, the campaign is your standard Call of Duty affair but with the slight changes of keeping it with a single protagonist, the exo-suit, and being able to upgrade your exo-suit by completing challenges.
The exo-suit is obviously the most talked about feature in this game and for good reason because it drastically changes the way you play. With it you can double jump and boost in four directions which not only speeds up an already somewhat fast paced game, but makes you go into fights with new strategies. Besides pulling off fancy air maneuvers your exo-suit is also equipped with various abilities like a retractable shield, cloak, overdrive (which kicks things into slow-mo), a sonic emitter that disorients enemies, and a few other nifty things like a hover or speed booster. There really is nothing quite like double jumping above a crowd of enemies, slamming down into them, and then boosting backwards and then to the side to get into some cover. The exo-suit is just a total blast and definitely one of the better jetpacks in this recent trend.
Now while you can’t customize your exo-suit in the campaign like you can in the multiplayer (you’re given a certain set of abilities each mission), you do have the option of upgrading it. There are four challenges in the campaign that will reward you with upgrade points for killing enemies, scoring headshots, grenade kills, and collecting intel; you can then use these points in the mission briefing screen to upgrade things like grenade capacity, reload speed, explosive resistance, and more. It’s a neat inclusion that ultimately ends up feeling needless since you’ll easily max out all the important skills well before the end of the game.
Of course since this is a Call of Duty game it’s not worth discussing if you’re not going to delve into the multiplayer component. Everything is more or less still the same only now everyone’s hopping all over the place with sick exo-suits. Sledgehammer expands the already neat Pick 10 system by adding an extra 3 points by including score streaks into the mix. I was already a big fan of how flexible the system made customizing classes and giving me the option to axe a few score streaks to further bump up my class feels even greater. The guns of course sound and feel pretty great but I was never too worried about that since Activision has usually been pretty good on that front. Some of the weapons like the pump action shotgun and laser rifle feel especially cool to use, as does the equipment like the variable grenade that lets you switch between flash, smoke, EMP, and threat locator grenades.
It’s kind of weird how a simple thing like a jetpack can totally change the way you play a game. For years I had a sort of speedy caution I’d play online matches and it worked really well for me; with the exo-suit I’ve become both more aggressive and more aware of potential cover now that I actually have options of getting to cover in a firefight. If I rounded a corner only to be greeted with a spray of bullets I can now boost backwards, double jump to a higher position, and strafe boost my way to my attacker to get the jump on him. The speed totally changes the way this game is played and it’s a total blast.
Perhaps the most surprising change to the multiplayer is the supply drop system. Every so often you’ll get a supply drop full of some random loot that might include some cosmetic armor or alternate versions of existing guns. If you don’t like the loot you got you can even trash them for XP. The supply drops don’t offer any sort of drastic changes to the multiplayer formula and most of the guns you get are pretty hit or miss, but it’s an interesting inclusion that I hope to see expanded upon.
As neat as the new changes to the game are, my absolute favorite thing is the firing range. Whenever you’re in the create-a-class menu you can hit the start button to instantly jump into the firing range to test out your new weapon and when I say instant I mean it. It’s insane how fast it jumps back and forth. No more will you have to play a full match to test out a gun you just unlocked which is something I loathed in the series. Now you can do it while waiting for the next game to start and it’s easily my favorite new addition to the series right behind the exo-suit.
It wouldn’t be a Call of Duty game without some extra third throwaway mode and Advanced Warfare brings along your generic wave based horde mode. In the Exo-Survival mode you’ll face waves of enemies who (obviously) get stronger and each wave has a certain goal to accomplish that vary from collecting dogtags, disarming bombs, collecting intel, and just killing dudes. Failing these objectives will lead to the next wave of enemies being given a bump in difficulty like sentry guns being added to the wave. I never found myself stressing too hard over these things though since your team should be able to easily finish them even if you’re not working together very well. Doing well will of course reward you with upgrade points that you can use to buy new guns, gun attachments, upgrade your exo-suit and even upgrade the score streaks you pick up. The only sort of issue I had with this mode was how shitty most players are. Killing enemies fills up a support drop meter which will then cause four care packages (that will either contain a perk or score streak) to drop for you to collect. The issue here is that anyone can grab them and when they drop most players rush to snag them all because they’re jerks like that. Getting to the final wave will cause the map to “flip” which means it resets you back at wave one but with slight, very slight changes. Overall Exo-Survival just feels sort of put in for the sake of having a third mode in the game. It doesn’t do anything interesting or new to justify wanting to play it with its only worth being to unlock the zombie gear for multiplayer. It’s a decent enough mode for what it is, but it just leaves you feeling like they could have done something better or axed it to further improve the rest of the game.
The Final Word
As someone who’s been burnt out on the series for the past few years I couldn’t get into MW3, BO2, or Ghosts but Advanced Warfare finally got me back into the series. The jetpack is such a game changer for me I honestly want nothing to do with the next games in the series if they don’t have something similar.
– MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good