This article has been archived and may have some errors due to a previous design of MGL. None of the review has been altered however. Another year, just another Call of Duty? Not in the hands of Sledgehammer games, in Advanced Warfare we have one of the best games in the series and one of the best first person shooter experiences of 2014.
Advanced Warfare builds on the solid multiplayer experience that the series is most loved for in recent years but also addresses a number of the criticisms the series has come in for too. With a cast that includes video game A-List stars like Troy Baker and Gideon Emery alongside a frighteningly lifelike Hollywood star in Kevin Spacey, the game really puts right some of the single player issues, delivering an experience that is fast, fun and has you itching to go back for more.
The game’s graphics sound and immersive atmosphere really stand out even though the games overall plot and borrowing of ideas from other titles does stop the game reaching a level of excellence it was very close to achieving. Still there are a lot of positives to be taken from this title, above all else, it’s just so much fun to play!
Look & Feel
Visually this game is a definite example of a true next generation experience, it’s simply beautiful in all aspects of the visuals. Buildings like skyscrapers, whether they are solid and shining in the sun or being brought to rubble by enemy bombings, look exceptionally realistic and will stop you in your tracks to take a look at your surroundings when you get the opportunity. Then you have the environment around you that executes shimmering lighting effects, realistic distortions in the air from explosions and resulting fires as you take aim. But the most striking of all here are the characters, they simply make the game in both looks and how the narrative of the campaign develops.
Kevin Spacey is modelled perfectly, there are some scenes where you forget this is a game and you could be looking at a real person, but this is not where the detail ends. Every main character is given the same level of facial construction including Jack Mitchell who you play through the game as; Gideon who helps Mitchell learn the ropes and Cormack your very first commanding officer who makes a re-appearance later in the game. Every single one of these people look exceptional and really are acted well too plus less prominent characters also impress, Sledgehammer really did a fantastic job here.
But rather than just rely on this graphical masterpiece another factor comes in here and really makes the environments immersive: the highly visceral sound effects. Broken glass crunches under your feet as you walk but then you hit something metal and it thuds or creaks. As bullets impact into different surfaces the sound alters perfectly and when the game really goes crazy and explosions, fire and machinery clatters around, everything just hits you both with your eyes and with your ears. This, for me was as impressive as the visuals as it makes you really feel every beat of the action.
The only break in this immersion is the very small jerk when you load a checkpoint or, on occasion, when the game auto saves. That is literally it, this is a truly remarkable feel of graphical design for a game along with a wonderfully crafted sound effects matrix. Quite simply, WOW!
Story and Characters
Of course graphics are not everything and, personally speaking, nor is a solid and fun Multiplayer mode and the main campaign of Call of Duty games has come in for a large level of criticism in recent years since it’s not really imaginative and is usually finished in a few hours.
Rest assured gamers who like a good single player experience, much like me, you will very much enjoy the campaign mode of the game particularly for the really well portrayed characters and their voice acting, very well executed set piece moments and putting on some very cool Exo-Suits.
Some disappointments come here too however, the plot is nothing special really, there were a number of directions the story of the game could have gone but it went the most obvious and expected one and you are almost waiting for the twist to happen. That being said the acting and characterisation of everyone in the main story, especially Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of Jonathan Irons, really do make up for the fact the plot itself is not overly complicated or thoughtful.
One other disappointment is the constant spoon-feeding when it comes to the use of the special equipment you are given, you have cool abilities like magnetic gloves or a grapple attachment that could make for some interesting choices in gameplay but you are told “use ‘X’ ability here’ and then after that there isn’t any opportunity to do so. It doesn’t ruin anything but it would have made a very linear experience feel less scripted.
What is great about the main story of the game are the set pieces and all out action when things go crazy. You’ll be in control of remote drones, fighter jets and hover bikes then jumping from vehicle to vehicle in mad traffic then getting involved in huge fire fights that will have you using all your fancy gadgets to blast your way through. Then there are some more subtle missions that need you to be stealthy and get objectives done undetected which adds nice variety.
There is also the simple fact that the campaign is entertaining, there are so many moments that are really, really fun and you want to go back and do it again plus the action is so good and the Exo-Suits have you really pumped up to go out and kick some ass, especially the ones you put on at the end. While these innovative technologies are clearly influenced by other games or films (Titanfall and The Matrix Revolutions are certainly referenced in the game) it’s done in such an obvious way that the developers are clearly not hiding anything and almost paying homage to something they like which perfectly acceptable, especially when Star Wars lines make you smile and you have to blast swarms of drones during missions.
Like I said, it’s a lot of fun and you can easily go though it twice thanks to intel to search for, bonus objectives in every chapter and increased difficulty. It’s just a shame they didn’t think of one or two innovations that were truely unique and never seen in a game of this type before but rest assured, its a massive improvement on previous editions of the game.
Regardless of the improvements and the enjoyment of the main campaign, Call of Duty is a series that cares mainly about the gameplay and specifically Multiplayer gameplay. Advanced Warfare is of course no different and really does give players a vast number of multiplayer modes to choose from. For the more experienced players classic modes like Team Deathmatch are fast and furious with all out carnage and plenty of shouting at the TV… or each other! Domination was a mode that I found more accessible at early levels and to build up my knowledge of the maps, like the hotel one that has a nice void in the middle I managed to keep falling down!
The Exo-Suit has an impact here as you can use the boost jumps and dodges in any game and with any class you choose and does add a bit to the gameplay. For people like me who have missed Titanfall this is pretty cool and enjoyable, for people that have played it it might seem a little too familiar, but regardless it adds something different to this series of games and makes games like the new uplink possible where you need to leap and get data to upload points and it’s a lot of fun.
In both single player and multiplayer the first person shooting is very responsive with enough difference in weaponry to allow you to pick the best one for your play style, including a very cool laser gun that was a lot of fun to use! Equipment is mainly handed to you in the campaign but your choices in multiplayer can really make a difference to your performance so selecting the right weapon, equipment and Exo ability really should have you thinking and maybe creating a few custom classes so you can test each one in a game first.
Honestly, the gameplay is Call of Duty, it’s as straight forward as that. The new abilities really do give the game added extras and a few levels in the campaign mode that play in the Crysis style are really well done, but again I am referring to other games that have done these things before. It’s new to the series and makes it a better game but there is nothing particularly innovative directly from this game just very good execution of existing ideas.
Lifespan & Overall
The single player experience lasts around 7-8 hours depending on how many times you die, spend looking for the collectable intel and performing the bonus elements of the chapter. Plus, it’s so much fun and has a number of difficulty settings I would certainly consider going through it again. Multiplayer wise, well you can easily spend all the time and energy you have in there, it’s got so many different games and so many variations on what you can do with your loadouts. This game can eat away at your life, and that is certainly a good thing.
Overall I have to say that the reason I did this review rather than a Call of Duty veteran was to do it from a perspective of someone who has not played the game very much in recent years. I have also missed Titanfall out as my Xbox One is on it’s way from Santa this year so I have literally come into this game fresh and open minded and I really, really like it despite some of the negatives.
It’s strongest positives are the graphical quality along with the sound effects to go with it, the characters and their actors make up for an average story and the action is so well done. What stands out the most is the effort the developers have gone to with the game, it’s just a shame that all of the innovative parts of the gameplay have already been seen before and clearly used as inspiration when they were making it.
Your view on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will be shaped by how much you have played the game in the past and how much time you have spent on other multiplayer games this year. The single player mode is massively improved and is entertaining but perhaps not quite enough to warrant the full cost of the game alone but the huge multiplayer content certainly is. Should you be a COD lover or someone that has avoided the likes of Titanfall this year then this game will make you very happy. If you have had your fill of PVP games this year this one won;t do anything particularly new to give you a bit of something different.
However, looking at this game as what it is, it’s a remarkable piece of video game engineering to make something so visually stunning, create some of the most lifelike character models I have seen in a gameplay engine and some of the most action packed gaming sequences you’ll find in a first person shooter. It’s a great game and one that fans should certainly consider and people who have not played the series in a while to give it a go once again.