A new developer breathes new life into Call of Duty.
Developer(s): Sledgehammer Games
PLAYED ON XBOX ONE
ALSO AVAILABLE ON PS4, PC, PS3 AND X360
I feel like last year was a negative turning point for the Call of Duty IP. The bar set so high by Treyarch in 2012 with Black Ops II meant that Ghosts didn't even care to try and match the standard. Forgive me for sounding like I got overhyped, but I really didn't. There are certain things you expect from a franchise so entirely capable of delivering a great shooter experience at the rate it has been doing, but for a first time dip into the new-gen hardware pool, it was just lackluster in general. It was by no means a bad game, but for a team like Infinity Ward to come up with something like that... it straight-up didn't click. The maps were uninspired, the campaign was surprisingly boring, and the graphics and colours were unusually bleak. But with that said, Sledgehammer Games got their first turn in the CoD development cycle this year, and I couldn't be more pleased with how they managed to deal with everything so well. You may recall their participation in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 alongside Infinity Ward, which I awarded a 91% rating back in 2011. And now, they've gone it alone.
The experience I always look for in a Call of Duty title is the campaign. Set in 2050 and onwards, the world is in termoil after a global attack on the world's most prominent power sources. Atlas Corporation, headed by Jonathan Irons (Kevin Spacey), is proving to be the way forward in privately-funded military groups. A Russian commander codenamed "Hades" is responsible for fronting these devastating attacks. Now Atlas must bring down this leader and his following, the KVA. You assume the role of Private Jack Mitchell (Troy Baker), newly enlisted at Atlas after an accident meant his left arm was amputated. As a result, Irons offered Mitchell a position in a specialist squadron with the use of new exoskeleton suits - the likes of which allows Mitchell a functional prosthetic arm. After several successful missions and a drought of enemy resistance, it soon becomes clear as to who is the real threat to the world. It's definitely one of the better narratives that the series has had in recent years. Although I did call certain events a while before they actually happened, my points stands that, some interesting directional choices paired with great dialogue and voice acting (as well as mo-cap) means story mode is definitely worth playing. It's actually written by the guys over at Visceral Games - perhaps most known for the Dead Space series; this is their second foray into military shooter territory after Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel. As far as this game goes, the writing is a couple of steps above that of the aforementioned titles. It's entirely linear this time round, though - seemingly more focused on delivering one solid story than branching off into different endings. Not that that's anything to be worried about, because it's satisfying enough. Not to mention the characters themselves. Gideon is one of the best NPCs in ages, with a certain Captain Price vibe going for him he manages to keep Spacey from hogging the spotlight. It's just a shame then that a lot of the crew members you'll be fighting alongside in every other situation is wooden and bland. I don't remember the last time there were so few characters really worth remembering. For instance, you can lead an entire platoon through a battle and Gideon is the only bloke there worth even noting. Anyone else is a background character.
I've been having loads of fun with the multiplayer modes. The playlists on offer still feel like more than what any game before it has provided, despite the lack of Team Tactical. Definitely ample coverage here to keep you going for hours, and rightfully so. Each new game mode seems fleshed out and interesting, but retains the formula that makes the series' online components so strangely addicting. You've got your classic deathmatch, domination and search and destroy modes, along with new additions such as momentum, where you as a team must keep killing to capture flags faster and carry momentum. If the enemy takes a flag, your momentum is lost and you take much longer to take an objective. A string of deaths collectively also has an impact on momentum. I found it interesting as a whole because it encourages more teamplay options, even when someone in the server doesn't care about the flags. They get kills, and those kills help you take flags faster. I'm also very much enjoying search and destroy, because the maps are so nice to play this time round in comparison to what we've seen recently. A nice mix of tight corners and medium-to-long-range engagements across certain sides and narrow paths through the center, paired with the great exo movement system means that there's more ways to avoid a threat, or create one. I've even managed to flank entire groups of enemies at points. It's just up to you on how you kick off a firefight without botching the entire thing, and you definitely need to be worrying about that in S&D; no respawns and quick thinking means it's still one of my favourite modes. Then there's the create-a-class feature which allows you to a mixture of thirteen different items. You've seen it before, but AW continues to refine this formula.
Elsewhere, exo survival takes a lot of pages from Modern Warfare 3's book and makes it miles better. A very similar map progression system is in play here, with sets of four maps becoming increasingly harder in difficulty before leading up to one final map on the hardest difficulty. Each round survived entitles you to a certain number of upgrade points. These can be spent each round on upgrades for your exoskeleton, or alternatively in buying new guns, grenades, attachments and scorestreaks. It was actually really fun to play, I must admit. Frantic encounters with mech suits were nothing short of intense, especially if you didn't have a mech yourself. I was genuinely surprised by how well it took the idea from MW3 and made it a whole lot better.
With the launch week in full swing, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare welcomes you into a new era of the franchise. Hints from the end of the campaign make it quite clear that a sequel will come to light at some point, and I honestly think that's a good thing. Sledgehammer Games have completely proven their worth at the helm of the IP and I'll be damned if they don't come back soon. If you haven't played a Call of Duty title recently and you're thinking about jumping back in, this is the place to start.
Me Love Cars - Founder of Gameopedia Wiki 02:58, November 8, 2014 (UTC)
Fun and addictive exo combat
Engaging singleplayer mode
Great leading characters...
... It's just a shame there aren't many interesting supports
Incredibly fiddly plane controls, much akin to Black Ops II
Fun multiplayer and exo combat make this a great return to form.