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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

By zethalee19-12-2014
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

The Defence

Sledgehammer Games
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core i5 3.3 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
AMD equivalent
8 GB
55 GB

The Case

Standing confidently at the forefront of modern multiplayer shooters, since the release of Modern Warfare in 2007, the Call of Duty franchise has been host to an impressive six installments, tacking on bizarre sponsorship campaigns and coming to be associated with a tract of underage gamers and stagnant gameplay. With the release of last year's disappointing Ghosts, many wondered if it was finally time to take a break from yearly installments of one of the most popular video game franchises. Now, with the release of Advanced Warfare, has Activision lived up to the pedigree of the series, or has the series failed to evolve yet again?

The Trial

To think that just over a century ago, wars were fought in the trenches with fixed-wing biplanes overhead and armored cars while men stared at each other across miles of open ground seems almost absurd, compared to the combat seen in the real world and video games of today. With asymmetric combat and force multipliers tearing apart landscapes around the world, warfare has evolved to a point well past the destructive horror which, in comparison, seems almost organized. Advanced Warfare features both chaotic and organized combat, and while it doesn't provide a sweeping criticism of rise of technological warfare, it comes quite close to commenting on other aspects of armed conflict.

You’re all so dead you just don’t know it yet.

You’re all so dead you just don’t know it yet.

Stepping into the role of Jack Mitchell, a former US Marine with an impressively resilient hairstyle, the campaign tracks our protagonist and his sidekicks, former British soldier Gibeon and Spetsnaz sniper Ilona. In the service of Atlas Corporation, you're sent across the globe taking on the KVA, a terrorist organization that decries the over reliance of technology that modern human society seems to have so readily accepted, culminating in a devastating terrorist attack on nuclear power plants. Slowly, the world becomes more and more reliant on Atlas, and I'm sure you can already guess where things are going.

That's not to say that the campaign’s mechanics aren’t poorly done. On the other hand, the mission and level design excellently balances stealth, action, and vehicular sections in a welcome departure from the bombastic fanfare of previous games. Though there's not much in the way of driving sections, the hovering tanks and bikes don't seem to have any egregious faults in their maneuverability, and serve as a nice way to break up missions that might otherwise have a lot of walking. With an actual cloaking device featuring later in the game, along with a level where you creep along in the grass amongst unsuspecting dinner party guests, the stealth isn't done poorly either. Granted, it may not be as punishing or as rewarding as, say, the stealth in Styx, but it does make levels that would otherwise be straight shooting affairs much more interesting.

Continuing, where would Advanced Warfare be without its movement and combat systems? Featured in nearly every level of the game, the exo-suits are clearly the main draw of both the single and multiplayer, providing a new way to maneuver around the battlefield and, quite literally, turn the player into a super-soldier. They're fast, fun, and clearly designed to give the player more creative freedom in how they approach the action, with a number of different abilities, depending on which exo-loadout you start the level with. With boost jumping, boost strafing, riot shields, stimpacks, and a few aural weapons at your disposal, you'd think that the levels themselves would lend to rapid, movement-based combat, but sadly, the level design doesn't allow for that.

Near Death is the constant condition here.

Near Death is the constant condition here.

It seems strange, considering the variety of locales you visit (New Baghdad, Seattle, San Francisco, the Darwin Glacier, to name a few), but all things considered, the level design continues to pump you down a chute with your allies as you're guided from one combat arena to the next. Fights always seem to take place up close and personal to where you are, and while that's a basic tenet of first-person shooters, the level structure allows you nowhere near the freedom that, say, Wolfenstein did. I wanted to explore the environment, but turn around, and you'll consistently find fallen rubble, locked doors, or even an automatic failure if you stray too far.

The shooting, thankfully, is consistent. The guns feel appropriately weighty, and even though I couldn't quite understand why a battery-powered laser rifle had recoil, there's a nice mix of modern weaponry mixed in with futuristic rifles. Ammunition counts and grenade stocks are integrated into a miniature HUD on your weapon of choice, along with information about your other abilities.

This all translates quite well into multiplayer, the main draw of the Call of Duty franchise. The movement system is kept intact, the maps are multi-layered and allow for a lot of freedom of movement, and though seemingly everyone slapped a silencer on their rifle of choice and called it a day, there is a comfortable variety of weaponry. Some of the maps can feel quite small but for the first time in a while, you're forced to think vertically about where you are and how the enemy team is placing themselves. The average “time to kill” feels thankfully balanced, and the maps have color and variety, as opposed to the murky greens and greys that Ghosts featured far too much of.

Michel Bay is proud.

Michel Bay is proud.

I was not, however, entirely sold on the “supply drop” system, where you earn cosmetics for your soldier or different weapon skins. It's a nice idea, but strangely limited by a miniscule inventory size. Since you can get four or five drops per match, depending on the skill of your play, your inventory fills up quite quickly, and although it's a simple task to turn unneeded hats and shirts into experience for your character, I was slightly motivated to collect sets, just to keep my online persona looking unique.

As far as bugs and issues are concerned, I didn't experience any issues with the multiplayer, but that may not apply for everyone, as was widely reported upon release. I did, however, experience massive slowdown during cutscenes and gameplay in the single player, and even though I've got a sufficient card, it took increasing the virtual memory of my system and dropping all textures to Low quality to halt the issues. Whether or not this is due to my AMD GPU, I cannot say, but it's something for consideration. It's a bit of a shame, too, since the game looked quite nice on Ultra.

Case Review

  • Boost Jumper: Exo-suits are great fun to use and learn.
  • Charismatic: Kevin Spacey does a fine job as the game's villain.
  • Looking Glass: Reflects on the nature of war, if not intentionally.
  • Warzone: Multiplayer offers a lot of freedom.
  • Glitch in the System: Odd array of issues with the campaign.
  • Meathead: Final stretch of the campaign is pure stupidity.
Score: 4/5
An enjoyable romp mainly let down by technical issues and predictability.


Advanced Warfare, the six hundred millionth Call of Duty sequel, is long since out - unsurprisingly topping the sales charts everywhere. As always, Activision and the ensemble of developers juggling the responsibility back and forth, all promise revolutionary changes and additions to the by now oh so tired formula. And as always, they oversell their game. Advanced Warfare is nothing new, in fact I’d dare say that its additions are even fewer and farther between than those of previous iterations in the franchise. Sure, you’ve got the “new” exo-suits and jetpack double-jumps, and though they definitely amount to some variety in multiplayer (arguably the core of the game), these features still don’t revolutionize anything. It’s still Call of Duty - whether you love it or hate it -  just, now with a jetpack.

That’s not to say that the game isn’t worth the money. If you’re a CoD fan then you’ll find as much content to love here as you’ve found in any previous instalment to the franchise. Though the single player portion is short, offers a ridiculously childish plotline, has terrible pacing and an insulting restriction on your exo-suit’s abilities, the multiplayer portion is loaded with features. Weapons, maps, game modes, you won’t grow bored of it quickly, if more Call of Duty” is what you’re looking for. Though, to me it is rather ironic that each instalment of the franchise feels like it’s becoming more cluttered than the last, as a result of the developers adding in new things here and there rather than ripping out the core of the game and starting off from scratch. This whole “pick 13” system is not only confusing, but rather counterintuitive. Especially considering how Call of Duty always seems to try and cater to people who don’t even identify themselves as gamers.

If you’re a long-standing fan of the franchise, however, this won’t likely bother you. It’s just more stuff for you to sink your teeth into. I’ve long since burned out on Call of Duty. The latest instalment was a curiosity purchase, as I’ve skipped every new CoD since Black Ops. I wanted to see where the franchise had gone during my years away. And I won’t lie, I did have fun with it. Even the dumb, restrictive and at times incredibly boring single player, still offered some fun. And with the exo-suits and all that, I imagine there’s enough new for the fans to enjoy in the multiplayer. Just don’t expect to be paying €60 for any sort of “next gen revolution” - be it technical or gameplay-related. Because you won’t find it here. All you’ll find is fun. Big, dumb fun, with an excessive price-tag attached.

Score: 3.5/5
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