The Call of Duty franchise has long been considered the king of multiplayer shooters, but for me its last few iterations have struggled to gain my attention. The first Modern Warfare still holds a place amongst my favourite games, but the sequel was a crushing disappointment and I’ve been consistently lacking in enthusiasm for every release since. Advanced Warfare is the first time I have had any noted interest in a CoD release in some time, with many of the previews and early footage piquing my interest. I am glad to say, my interest was not misguided, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is by far the most engaging and captivating game the series has released in a very long time.
Advanced Warfare is very much what you would expect from a Call of Duty game, with an over the top campaign and a heavy focus on rich and intricate multiplayer. The technical quality and core gameplay remains at the same high standard of previous entries, but where Advanced Warfare excels is the simple new additions to the formula that offer some much needed diversity in both campaign and multiplayer modes. The future setting has allowed for developer, Sledgehammer Games, to design a plethora of unique gadgets and weapons that offer some stunning set-piece moments within the campaign and a number of new approaches to combat in multiplayer, but the Exo Suit is by far the most noteworthy addition.
Each soldier is now equipped with a mechanical exoskeleton that greatly enhances the mobility of the player, making gameplay not only more fast paced, but also gives an additional focus to vertical mobility. Jetpacks and thrusters allow you to double jump and quickly boost in any direction whilst in the air, making the way you see the battlefield drastically different to previous instalments. This additional freedom of movement makes a world of difference to the feel of the game and is a large part of what drew me back in.
It’s clear that a lot of effort has been put into the campaign this time around, with exceptionally well produced cutscenes featuring fantastic motion captured performances by the likes of Kevin Spacey and Troy Baker. There is a noted difference in the visuals between cutscene and gameplay, but the game still looks wonderful in motion, with a number of excellent visual effects filling the screen at any one time and environments full of detail constantly in motion. The narrative is interesting and enjoyable enough, but is very shallow and at times features some horrendous dialogue. You won’t find any shocking plot twists or emotionally investing scenarios, and by the end I even found myself questioning the actions of pretty much every character.
These issues are fairly easy to dismiss, as much of the plot is largely in place as an excuse to introduce a number of set-piece moments where you use cool gadgets like grappling hooks or invisible sniper drones, and features more stand out moments than any other shooter in recent memory. Suffice it to say, the campaign is an incredibly well-designed and very fun but exceedingly shallow segment of the game, but the developers know as well as any fan that the campaign is not where the series success lies.
The multiplayer suite on offer in Advanced Warfare is simply mind boggling at first, especially to somebody such as myself who has not been invested in a Call of Duty game in some time. Players have an incredible amount of customisation options available, both in the equipment used and aesthetically. You start with a relatively small number of items available to you, but as you level up you will unlock new items, gadgets and perks, each of which affect the gameplay in drastic ways.