Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4) review
With Call of Duty beginning to get a bit stale Activision has tasked Sledgehammer Games with making a new fun COD game, and so Sledgehammer has taken Call of Duty into the future where the biggest threat isn’t a country, but a company.
After the dull experience that was Call of Duty: Ghosts, Sledgehammer Games had a rather mammoth task of making me and several other people interesting in the Call of Duty franchise, and to my initial surprise Sledgehammer Games pulled it off. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the best Call of Duty game I have seen in a long time, what made me enjoy Advanced Warfare was the fact that the game finally got an interesting campaign and heavily improved the multiplayer.
Before going into the campaign and multiplayer I want to give a short mention to the game’s most important feature, the exoskeleton. This addition create an even faster player experience with players now being able to boost jump and dash, and use special multiplayer only abilities such as cloaking and stim.
Now let’s look at the campaign.
Unlike in previous Call of Duty games, the story isn’t about protecting America from another nation, but it is about protecting the world from a private military company (PMC). In the game’s campaign a PMC called ATLAS has become a global superpower after helping to provide security and essential supplies to countries affected by a massive worldwide terrorist attack on several nuclear power plants. As a now trusted worldwide military company, ATLAS CEO Jonathan Irons (VA: Kevin Spacey) sees an opportunity to create a new world, his plan is simple and yet twisted, destroy all those who oppose him and create a new peaceful world populated by those who agree with him.
*some story spoilers ahead*
This story is seen through the eyes of Jack Mitchell, a member of the US army, but during his deployment to Seoul to stop an invasion from North Korea he loses his left arm and his best friend, Will Irons. Following his discharge Mitchell is recruited by ATLAS and becomes friendly with Jonathan Irons. While Mitchell enjoys his time at ATLAS a worldwide terrorist attack on various nuclear power plants leaves the world crippled and ATLAS as the only ones that can save the world and eliminate the man responsible. To stop him the game jumps forward four years, to a world after the attack, and you, Gideon, Ilona and the rest of ATLAS are tasked with finding Hades, the leader of the KVA, but after finding and killing Hades you learn some shocking news, Irons knew about the nuclear plant attacks and let them happen. After learning this truth Mitchell and your colleague Ilona flee ATLAS and are recruited by Sentinel, a US led operation that wish to take down ATLAS as the US learned that Irons is preparing to attack the US with help of a bio weapons called, Manticore. Upon learning this you, Ilona and later Gideon join Sentinel in an attempt to stop Irons from attacking the US and releasing Manticore. From this point on you are on worldwide trip to stop the bomb, with your character travelling to Antarctica, San Francisco and New Baghdad in attempt to learn more about the bomb and a way to stop it. As the game enters its final act you learn some truly dreadful truths which include experiencing an ATLAS version of a concentration camp, learning how the bio weapon works, and Irons’ reasoning behind his madness.
*end of story spoilers
Advanced Warfare’s campaign is pretty good. The futuristic weapons and equipment are all interesting and fun, despite the fact the game has a nasty habit of taking away newly received high-tech toys at the end of level (for example you get a mech suit, but one for a fraction of a mission), and the story while predictable is engaging. As I played through the campaign I found myself getting more and more drawn into the world, and I found some of the game’s shocking scenes were genially shocking, which is something Call of Duty hasn’t managed to pull off since Call of Duty 4 had you slowly dying from radiation poisoning. The shocking moment in Advanced Warfare is that you see prisoners in a ATLAS prison camp facing horrible mental and physical torture, and the game leaves you with the knowledge you have to let them endure their suffering.
The main antagonist Irons also helped me enjoy the campaign. For the entire game I didn’t fully understand his motivation for wanting to wipe out the US, but when he eventually reveals his reasoning, it is equal parts sensible and terrifying. After everything I experience in the game I understood his point of view, but I couldn’t condone it as the game showed me just what horrors he had done in an attempt to reach his goal.
In short Advanced Warfare’s campaign is the best Call of Duty campaign since Call of Duty 4, with the game making a great deal of effort to make sure you understand why everything is happening. There are of course some plot holes and the fact that the game likes to heavily restrict what you can do in battle.
Now let’s talk about the multiplayer. While Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer has a lot in common with previous Call of Duty multiplayer modes, Advanced Warfare brings a greater level of skill and customization.
The skill element comes from the inclusion of the single player campaign’s exoskeleton in multiplayer. The exoskeleton adds verticality to the multiplayer experience, this means players will be able to take to elevated positions and as such force players to be more aware of their surroundings as players can come from the sky and take you out before you even noticing. The exoskeleton also allows you to perform quick dashes and use “Exoskeleton abilities”, which allows players to perform speed boost, cloak and increase healing for a short amount of time.
Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer also has an increased level of class customisation with players being able to choose how they want to play. Class customisation works by allowing player to equip a total of 13 points worth of equipment, with each piece of equipment costing 1 point. This points system allows a good degree of customisation from allowing you to have three attachments on one weapon to having four scorestreaks instead of the usual three.
Apart from customising your basic loadout the with the points system, players can customise their weapon stats and clothes by way of supply drops. These supply drops, which you earn from taking part in multiplayer games gives you short turn bonuses such as double experience, and permanent items such as enlisted, professional and elite versions of weapons and cosmetic gear. The supply drop is a neat tool as it is a guaranteed reward for playing and also you might receive an upgraded version of your favourite weapon (upgrades are relatively small stat boosts, for example +1 accuracy). Out of all the ways COD has implement RPG mechanics this is a pretty impressive way of implementing RPG style rarity progression.
While these three new additions add some greater customisation to multiplayer, the mode still has several issues. These issues include: barebones matchmaking, small maps, narrow FOV and lag. Now let me explain each issue in greater detail.
When it comes to matchmaking the game seems to have little to no regard for new players, as the game does not allow you to create any form of filter i.e. play against those close to your level or in you region. This means that new player have to not only fight players who are potentially more skilled than you, but those who have unlocked superior equipment.
One of my biggest pet peeves regarding Call of Duty is the fact the maps are too small (especially for 6v6), and this tradition of having small maps continues with Advanced Warfare. I understand why Sledgehammer Games wanted to have relatively small maps as they do decrease the chance of a prolonged lulls in fighting, but honestly I like a few seconds of downtime to take a breather and create some sort of strategy. There is also the problem that the new exoskeletons allow players to cross from one end to another very quickly, which while it again decreases a battlefield lull it increase the likelihood of spawn camping and removes a lot of tactical play. For me I feel my greatest issue with the multiplayer maps is that players who like to think their way through a situation are hampered while those who simply run and gun are showered with rewards.
While small maps are my biggest pet peeve, the narrow field of view (FOV) is a close second. Playing Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer is like wearing blinders as you have no form of peripheral vision, you are forced to see directly ahead even though doing so is possibly the worst idea, especially when you consider that an enemy is most likely hiding in an elevated position. The issue with the narrow FOV is simple fix as they could easily throw in a field of view slider like they supposedly do with the PC version of this game.
After playing a couple of multiplayer matches I noticed a rather annoying issue, the matches I took part all seemed to have a good degree of lag, at times the lag was so bad that the server failed to register hits on enemies even though on my screen I had hit them. My first thought was that the issue was on my end, but after checking my speed, making sure my NAT was open, and all the cables were in properly I came to the conclusion that there was no issue on my side. After confirming the issue wasn’t on my side I decided to check online and low and behold other PlayStation 4 users were reporting the same issue, some PC users also reported the issue. Now while this lag is noticeable I wouldn’t say it is game destroying, it causes some frustrating moments, but I never felt my overall enjoyment was adversely effected.
Before I finish talking about the multiplayer I would just like to state that it has a good number of game modes that include: Team deathmatch, search and destroy, capture the flag, and numerous others. The game also has a total of five playlists: Standard, bonus playlist, hardcore playlist, ranked play, and classic playlist. For me the classic playlist is most eye-catching as the exoskeleton ability to boost jump is removed and such makes the multiplayer feel like previous Call of Duty games.
Now let’s move away from the multiplayer and talk a little bit about the futuristic technology in Advanced Warfare. While some of the futuristic tech might seem a bit farfetched some of it is possible especially in the game’s setting (about 2054). Military use powered exoskeletons like the ones you use in the game are already in development/research phase by DARPA, and right now powered exoskeletons are already in (limited) use, one such device is Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL), a powered exoskeleton developed by Japanese robotics company CYBERDINE, HAL was used by some cleanup crew working at the Fukushima Nuclear accident, and a leg only version of the device is used to help disabled patients in hospitals.
So with Advanced Warfare’s exoskeletons being a very real possibility, would it not be reasonable to expect that the rest of the technology shown in the game could become real? Well I suppose some could be, research has being put into creating a form of camouflage (cloak) for vehicles, but it isn’t likely we could see any form of human grade cloaking technology. So, cloaking is a maybe, but what about the hover bikes and tanks? Well personally I would say no, they just seem to out there to me, sure we have seen stuff like the Hendo Hoverboard, but I cannot see the technology behind the previously mentioned hoverboard being translated into a full on bike or even a tank in less than 40 years. However, I have been wrong before.
In my mind Advanced Warfare’s military tech balanced on the possible and unlikely, which in my mind is a good thing. I mean if it was going to be as realistic as possible it would be boring, so I’m glad they added a few potentially over the top pieces of technology.
Now as we approach the end of the review let’s talk about the voice actors and graphics. First let’s talk about the voice acting. I had zero issue with actors in this game, in fact I thought they were brilliant, especially Kevin Spacey, who voiced the power mad CEO, Jonathan Irons. This game was my first time experiencing Spacey’s acting talent, and honestly I loved how he created the right tones from casually talking to some ATLAS employees to his rage filled speeches. After this review I’m very much considering just sitting down and watch Spacey’s performance in House of Cards. Ok, enough about Spacey what about the others? The rest of the voice actors are good, and I didn’t notice any major issues with them.
In terms of graphics, Advanced Warfare is best looking and feeling Call of Duty game to date, and the main reason behind this is the fact Sledgehammer Games decided to drop the aging IW engine and create their own from scratch. Now while I’m no graphics or engine guru I didn’t notice any major flaws, but for those curious the frame rate was solid with no visible drops or stutters.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a return to form for the franchise. The game improves upon the fan favourite multiplayer, and the campaign and futuristic setting will keep you entertained. However, Advanced Warfare still contains some long standing issues.
+ New customisation options in multiplayer
+ Futuristic technology
+ The exoskeleton brings an extra dimension to multiplayer
+ Supply drops add a reason to play no matter how poorly you are doing
+ Kevin Spacey excels in his role as Jonathan Irons
+/- Campaign is fun, but at times it is predictable
– Multiplayer does suffer from some lag spikes
– Narrow FOV
|Sledgehammer Games||Activision||FPS||18+||PS4 (reviewed), PS3, XBOne, XB360, PC||November 4, 2014|
Author: Aaron Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.