Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Not the Advance Wars sequel - Games Weekly

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Not the Advance Wars sequel

Call of Duty has been struggling with an identity crisis for some time now. Since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came along and reconfigured the shooter landscape, the series’ campaigns have seemed unsure about whether they want to present grim, serious depictions of warfare, whether they really wants to say something about what it means to go to war, or whether they simply want to package as many explosive set-pieces in as possible. With Advanced Warfare, new lead developers Sledgehammer Games have definitively picked a side. Advanced Warfare is the Michael Bay-iest shooter in the series, filled to the brim with super silly moments, crazy explosions, fun future technology, over-the-top dramatics and scenery chewing performances.

And that, as it turns out, is a good thing. It’s nice to see Call of Duty commit to a tone, even if it’s not the same tone that the series was being praised for seven years ago. And while the plot is predictable, twisty nonsense, it doesn’t really matter: the writing serves as a simple, effective way of investing you in the bombast that the game hurls at you.

Advanced Warfare’s big innovation is the introduction of exo suits. The abilities of your suit change on a level by level basis: you might be able to double jump, or make a short range sonic emission to disturb enemies, or grapple around the level like a Bionic Commando, or cloak yourself, or whatever else the level has been designed to show off. Call of Duty has always been a series about performing the same basic core actions over and over again, but Advanced Warfare manages to provide a greater variety of experiences over a campaign that feels ever so slightly longer than previous efforts. The style of engagement shifts often, and while there are a few moments that are a little too silly (often involving quicktime events), the game’s stealth levels work well, the futuristic tech is fun to play with, and the numerous kill like 50 dudes moments showcase a variety of great level designs. Your weapons feel familiar but also suitably upgraded, and the new grenades, which can be cycled between several different modes before being thrown, are exciting to use every single time. It doesn’t feel fresh per se, but the new coat of paint splashed over Call of Duty’s mechanics makes them all just a little shinier, and playing with all of the new toys keeps things engaging.
At its core Advanced Warfare feels like a slightly tarted up iteration of the same old thing
The exo suits also make multiplayer a much more vertical affair than before. You’re no longer forced to climb ladders and stairs to get up on top of buildings, and although it lacks the wonderful versatility that Titanfall’s similarly outfitted characters were afforded, moving around now feels a bit more exciting and the map design has benefited greatly. Giving chase to an opponent is more fun when there are more movement options available to both of you, and you can boost-strafe around during fights for extra evasiveness. None of this feeds into the matches available, though the multiplayer modes are more or less what you’re used to, and the kitting system continues what Treyarch started in Black Ops II, allowing you to fully customise weapons, perks and streak rewards around a point system.

The new suit powers let you augment your character even further, throwing in cloaks and health stimulants and the like, but at its core Advanced Warfare feels like a slightly tarted up iteration of the same old thing rather than something genuinely new. That’s not necessarily a bad thing these games are popular for a reason, and Advanced Warfare hooks you into the same feedback loop that the series has been cultivating for some time. You’re constantly being rewarded with new weapons and customisations, and the level designs do a great job of funnelling combat into the most interesting areas of the map. The co-op mode is, sadly, a forgettable horde-mode riff, but there’s more than enough elsewhere to keep you entertained.

The whole package is well optimised for PCs too. Call of Duty has been a series associated with consoles, but Advanced Warfare shines brightest not only on high-end, but also mid-level gaming PCs. It scales magnificently, all the while taking a serious visual step-up from any previous game in the series. Call of Duty has always performed well, but it’s great finally having a Call of Duty on a new engine that’s worth playing. Advanced Warfare is simply stunning at times: Digital Kevin Spacey looks so realistic that you can actually see in his face just how little effort he puts into his surly performance.

Call of Duty’s most consistent accomplishment has been the way it makes letting bullets loose into enemy flesh, feel far more satisfying and tactile than shooting someone should. That hasn’t changed, but the elements surrounding that central snapand-fire action have been refined, remixed and generally given the attention they needed. It’s not a fundamental reinvention, if you buy every game in the series regardless of reception then you’re well catered for, and if you’ve absolutely sworn off Call of Duty it’s not going to bring you back. But if a part of you still pines a bit whenever a new Call of Duty releases, this is a fine point to jump back in.

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