Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Xbox One Review
Publisher: Activision Developer: Sledgehammer Games Genre: FPS Players: 1-16
Age Rating: 18+ Other console/handheld formats: PS4, PS3, Xbox 360
Call of Duty is immense, a true juggernaut of the gaming industry that has now been running long enough to feel as it’s running out of ideas somewhat. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare however has a new lead developer in Sledgehammer Games, a fresh setting, a new engine, some genuinely fresh ideas for the franchise, and it’s the first time that the game was developed over a three year cycle.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare takes place in the distant future, where soldiers go to war in suits that grant them superhuman capabilities. It features both the voice and likeness of Oscar winning actor, Kevin Spacey who turns in a great performance as Jonathon Irons, CEO of Atlas, a private military company, and all the less high profile people like Troy Baker as the protagonist Private Jack Mitchell do an excellent job too. The story is reasonably entertaining nonsense, with a memorable villain that 007 would really be in his element hunting down. Special mention must go to the facial capture, which really brings the characters to life in the cut scenes, adding a layer of emotion to the story that previously wasn’t there.
The shooting mechanics are as satisfying as usual, though the guns are uninspired (consisting of the usual handguns, submachine guns, Sniper Rifles and Rocket Launchers) the advanced capabilities of protagonist Mitchell on the other hand makes this one of the more refreshing entries in the series yet. Mitchell can leap huge distances, has a grappling hook and 6 different variations of grenades of which you can switch between at will. Many of these abilities you’re only granted the use of at certain points though, which is a bit of a missed opportunity of offering a more freeform and even more unique take on Call of Duty.
The campaign is as bombastic as always, with lots of lavish set pieces that often see lots of things being blown to pieces. The set pieces are excellently executed, but are short on imagination and are essentially other takes on those from previous games and it’s for this reason that in the last few years, they haven’t quite had the capacity to dazzle in the same way that they once did. It’s nonetheless a beautifully paced campaign with a satisfying amount of variation, sometimes shifting between action and stealth in what feels like the blink of an eye
With this being the second Call of Duty game for the new generation of consoles, along with the three year development cycle it all looks better than ever. Lighting is beautiful and authentic, the framerate of the Xbox One version generally retains a fluid 60fps, and everything looks lavishly detailed and often the real generational leap that Call of Duty: Ghosts failed to deliver.
Efficient play in the campaign such as killing a certain amount of enemies, headshots, grenade kills, finding laptops and such will reward you with points, which in between missions you can spend on upgrades, consisting of the likes of additional battery power (so that you’re able to make use of your suit abilities more often) and additional health or amounts of grenades that you can carry at a time. It doesn’t really feel as it has that great of a bearing on the experience, but it is still a nice idea for the series all the same that will hopefully be expanded on in the future.
It’s the multiplayer environment where the new traversal capabilities are shown off in the best light, offering the biggest change to multiplayer in terms of mobility for years. Boost jumping and dodging around the maps makes this the most dramatic change to the multiplayer component since Modern Warfare shook things up.
Map design is strong with plenty of possibilities open to you, more than ever in fact due to your abilities. You can leap large distances to reach areas that you previously wouldn’t be able, to get to an advantageous position or make a dramatic escape when you’re wounded. You can also equip additional abilities on your suit allowing you to equip things like a shield, invisibility and such, which can really help out at times.
The usual satisfying upgrade system is present and correct and will, as always, see you unlocking weapons, armour and such as you rise through the levels. There’s also a new loot system, which sees you earning weapons, XP bonuses, armour pieces and such on occasion from supply drops, granting a further level of compulsion to the multiplayer component.
The Pick 10 system from Call of Duty: Black Ops II is back, but has became Pick 13, offering more options. You’re granted 13 points which can be used in your loadouts and weapons, perks, abilities and such all cost one point to assign. It’s a very flexible system, that allows you to mould your character to fit your play style.
Modes consist of the usual deathmatch variations, Capture the Flag and such. Hardpoint, (it’s like King of the Hill for those not in the know) which hasn’t been featured in the series since Call of Duty: Black Ops has been revived. Momentum is essentially the War mode under a different title and has you and your team attempting to capture five points in a certain order. New mode Uplink is sort of like Capture the Flag combined with Basketball, and it makes for an enjoyable mixture. Exo-Survival is like the zombie and ghost modes from past entries in the series which tasks you and your teammates with taking on increasingly tougher waves of enemies.
Loud, brash, spectacular and comprehensive in its options Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is typical Call of Duty, but also is the most refreshing the series has felt in years. It isn’t as much as a shakeup for the series as modern Warfare was and it’s easy to feel that there is some missed potential here of taking the series even further in a fresh direction. Nevertheless, it’s certainly the most inventive the series has been in a long time and might well have enough fresh things on offer to get lapsed players interested again.