I’ve had some time to really get into Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and what I have come to conclude, is that this is quite possibly one of the best Call of Duty titles I have played for a long time. Sure, Black Ops brought a few more mechanics to the series, but Advanced Warfare really brings me back to Modern Warfare 2, which just so happens to be the first in the series that I ever played.
For those who have been following Call of Duty for some time now may feel a little apprehensive about embarking on a new set of missions in the near future. And honestly, I couldn’t blame you. As many game publishers understand all too well, one not-so-well received game in a series can often do a lot of damage to it’s reputation.
For a game such as Call of Duty this can be critical, especially when it is released on a yearly cycle. A change up with a different developer is just what the series needed. Sledge Hammer have taken a well known brand and added their own flair. Where Treyarch took the series to the future in Black Ops 2, Sledge Hammer too have decided to skip a few decades, but have instead focused on a technology that is widely being developed: The Exosuite. That’s not to say they have stuck with realistic technology, but rather used it as a muse to develop a more grounded futuristic setting.
Used as support for US soldiers, the Exosuite adds a few new game mechanics which have opened a few new ways to traverse the landscape. The fabled double jump is now a reality in the Call of Duty series, allowing you to reach higher locations to get a better sniping vantage point or to simply leap over smaller debris which gets in your way. The double jump works well in both single player and multiplayer, and I feel it adds another dimension to tactics whilst playing. Some areas which before would have been inaccessible are now free game, so you need to make sure you’re keeping any eye on all angles. After all, it only takes the one sniper to end you.
Using the Exosuites boosters, you can also use it to slow your descent. In the opening level you’re faced with what can only be described as a “mahussive” hole in the center of a building. Ordinarily, gameplay would be broken up to allow you to abseil down the rift in relative safety. Now however, you jump. By activating the boosters you can slow your descent, allowing you to safely land in once piece. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty fun. And very well done. Hold the (in my case) Square button when running off of the edge and you’ll glide to the other side, allowing you to continue running. I felt this keeps the transitions nice and streamlined, and honestly it works well.
Many Call of Duty veterans will notice the control scheme of AW are pretty much unchanged. Actually, it’s completely the same. Which is great. It means players like my self who have for the most part missed the last couple of games can jump back in where we left off and not feel hindered by a forever changing control system. There have of course been a few additions. The above mentioned hover and double jump abilities, as well as the new ability to switch your grenades on the fly. I was playing on the PlayStation system, so for me I would hold down the grenade button, either lethal or tactical and by pressing Square you’ll cycle through the different grenade types. This allows you to adapt to your situation. Enemies in cover? No problem. Throw out a threat grenade to get a layout of enemy locations. Surrounded by bots? Simple, chuck an EMP grenade. These simple additions really help change up the game play, and make the player think about the best opportunities presented to them. All guns blazing is not always the best way.
For a lot of the time I wasn’t at home while playing. Fortunately for my I had my PSVita with me, and armed with the PlayStation 4’s remote play ability I wasn’t kept away from the action. I have to say, even on the handheld Advanced Warfare plays great and looks great. Unlike other first person shooters I have played through the remote play feature, I found that I wasn’t struggling to see targets and the control mapping works well. Using the rear touch pad for sprinting and melee attacks and the bottom corners of the touch screen were reserved for grenades. I confess I did not try multiplayer with the Vita, but I do not think it would have posed much of a problem.
I noticed as well missions don’t always play out the same way. The AI seems more alive, more human than previous titles in the series. I happened to try one of the missions a few times, the first time I really wasn’t paying attention and stumbled into the enemies main area. My team however really had my back, taking out boogies left, right and center. It was as if I had a few human players with me. The next time however, I decided to take it slow, with the AI acting differently and adapting to how I played. It’s refreshing to know that AI isn’t always a burden.
Multiplayer mainly feels the same as the other titles in the series. Granted, there are some updated weapons to reflect the time period, as well as some new kill streaks. The Exosuits work well especially with the ability to swap out different power ups, such as increased health for a short amount of time or the ability to move faster. This I feel gives the player the ability to truly customise their playing style. As I mentioned above, the Exosuites double jump ability will allow you to reach locations that were previously inaccessible, giving you another tactical advantage or disadvantage depending on how well you utilise the new levels. I have found on numerous occasions players soaring through the open air. Easy targets. I’m not going to lie, I may too be guilty of this.
In addition to the new weaponry and kill streaks, the customisation of your characters have been widened. Like in Ghosts you get to choose the basic look of your character and as you progress you’ll unlock new clothing and gear. Some of which will expire after a certain length of time, some of which will remain in your inventory indefinitely.
The points based load outs are also back (Which I really like I might add) and kill streaks are earned through points rather than kills. So playing the game properly in capture the flag for instance will earn you points towards your next kill streak. It gives those players (like me) who are not able to get kill after kill without dying the chance to earn some thing epic for playing the game as it should be played. Instead of camping at a spawn point during a capture the point game mode.
The new co-op mode is basically a survival mode. Equipped with your trusty Exosuit you must survive waves of enemies. Much like the Extinction mode in Ghosts, but you’re not facing waves of relentless alien foes, but instead humans and machines. I felt this mode was more fun with another player. Tackling it on my own wasn’t really my thing. That being said, the game mode is good fun to play, and with a competent team it’s great to see just how far you can get. Unfortunately, my team, myself included are not competent!
Looking at Advanced Warfare you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a movie. The graphics really are that good. The first time I saw Kevin Spacey in game I was awed by how good he looked. The motion capture team have really done justice to every character. Movements are fluid and natural. Body language is reflected perfectly, and added to the visuals you’re really in for a treat. The power of the next gen consoles have really been utilised to their fullest. Despite the game being developed for the older systems, this does not seem to have hindered the look or smoothness for the more powerful generation.
Overall Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a fresh new entry to the series. After many felt Ghosts was a step in the wrong direction AW is three steps in the right direction. For me the gameplay feels more like Modern Warfare 2, which was my favourite in the series. I was skeptical at first, I felt the move towards the more futuristic style was a mistake, but it was I who was mistaken. The jump was some thing that was needed for the series giving it it’s own characteristic within the FPS genre. Call of Duty has always been it’s own series, and I don’t think it is fair to compare it to other games int he same genre. Sure, the story mode might be a little short, but it really is enjoyable and is friendly for those newer players. You don’t need to have played any of the other games in the series to know exactly what’s going on. If you like first person shooters, I highly recommend Advanced Warfare. Even if you didn’t enjoy Ghosts, don’t let that put you off.