This review pertains to Xbox One version, the PS4 version can be found over here
Over the past few years, the Call of Duty franchise has been declining in popularity. Players agree that it has become a rehash of the same game, year after year without any sign of anything changing. With this in mind, I am happy to say that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the game that fans of the series have been waiting for.
The biggest chance in Advanced Warfare from the other Call of Duty’s is the exo-skeleton. Taking place in the year 2056, soldiers are given exo-skeletons that give them incredible amounts of strength, jump incredibly high, turn invisible, etc. Although the game is still built on the series’ core mechanics, this new mechanic does well to make the game quite unique.
The story, taking just over six hours to complete is the most interesting Call of Duty campaign that I have played since Modern Warfare 2. You play as Jack Mitchell, a soldier in the U.S. army who loses his arm in battle. When given a second chance by Jonathon Irons, CEO of Atlas, a private military company, Mitchell helps protect the world from a terrorist named Hades. Only after a while, Mitchell finds out that Jonathon Irons himself is behind most of the terrorist attacks, and returns to the U.S. army to take down Atlas. Although the story itself is extremely predictable, the gameplay is astounding. The first few missions are glorified shooting galleries, but soon become very diverse offering levels that rely on stealth, flying, using only one arm, etc. The locations vary from one another as well, bringing you from the scorching heat of the Middle East, to the bitter cold of the artic. The story is very compelling and offers cut scenes that create some depth and personalities in the characters. This has been the first Call of Duty game in a long time that got me to care about the characters and the cause for which they fight. What is a great campaign is ruined by a very rushed and boring ending that screams sequel bait. The soundtrack also plays a huge portion in both the gameplay and the cutscenes. Each song fits the mood of each situation perfectly and brings you further into the story as the game goes on. Sound effects are also very well done, as every bullet and explosion sounds crisp and clear.
The multiplayer, although having the same core concepts that the other games have built up over the years, feels very unique. This is one of the fastest shooters I have played (thanks to the exo-skeleton), and although this is a good thing, the spawns can suffer heavily based on the game mode. Many previous game modes return (including “war” from World at War, now called momentum) alongside brand new modes such as uplink, which has the player try to grab a small satellite and try to throw it into the opposing teams net. We also see other unique elements in the multiplayer, such as exo abilities, which allow the player to turn invisible, run faster, become silent, create a shield, etc. While most of these things may seem overpowered in theory, they are actually quite balanced in practice. These abilities use up your exo-skeleton’s battery, which thankfully runs out quickly and cannot refill until the player dies. Pointstreaks also make a return, and also offer up a twist to the typical mechanic. Although there are only eight pointstreaks, each one can be customized for extra score required to get the killstreak. The UAV for example, costing 400 score, can be upgraded with threat detection for an additional 300 points, making it a pointstreak worth 700 score. The game also occasionally gives “supply drops” which give your character up to three items ranging from weapon variations (example: higher fire rate, lower accuracy) for gun models, and equipment to customize your character. The items are also ranked based or rarity, and can be shown off to other players. The maps themselves offer strengths for all game modes and are built perfectly to compliment the gun-on-gun action with the exo movement. I can honestly say that I only dislike one map, for it is way too tiny to support the exo movement. Server-side, the dedicated servers that players have once again been told they are getting, are not there, creating a large amount of connection issues. This creates lag for all players, and even though Activision says that they are fixing it, this should not have been an issue at launch.
Advanced Warfare also offers players a coop mode, called exo survival. This is a wave based survival mode that puts the exo-skeleton into the survival mode that we have seen in Modern Warfare 3. Although there is not much originality in this, players can now play with up to four other players both online, and split screen across all of the multiplayer maps. The first few waves of each map are painfully boring, but soon become very challenging having to eventually deal with two mechs, a handful of drones and cloaked enemies, while having to defuse bombs in one wave. Leveling up your stats in exo survival also unlock items for your multiplayer character, with an entire zombie themed character for players to use if they are able to survive long enough.
Although Advanced Warfare suffers from some of the issues found in other Call of Duty games, and has spawns that ruin certain game modes, SledgeHammer Games brings along the change and variety that fans have been longing for. The exo-skeleton has created some of my favorite moments in online multiplayer offering tense situations that not much can beat. This game has revived the Call of Duty franchise, and I hope to see more improvements like this in the future.
Positives: Unique game play, tons of customization, varying environments, genuinely fun
Negatives: terrible spawns, unstable connection, rushed ending
What do you think about the game? Let us know in the comments below!