Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

$54.88

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Complete Review & Description

For better or for worse, the Call of Duty franchise is an annual one. While it oscillates between studios on a per-game basis, the broad strokes of the series remains the same. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (developed by Sledgehammer games – the studio that was formed to ease the load off Infinity Ward and Treyarch) is the latest entry in the franchise. Though the core tenets persist, enough has been done to the game’s fundamental movement that it manages to feel fresh and new – in a way that hasn’t been done since Modern Warfare.
On the campaign side of things, you play Mitchell – a new recruit to the Marines in the year 2055. Deployed to Seoul following a North Korean invasion, you and your regiment have to fight your way through some of the most beautifully rendered urban ruins I’ve seen in a game. Using your Exo (a skeletal frame that attaches to your body – granting superhuman strength and unprecedented air control), you manage to achieve your mission.

Naturally, it doesn’t go off without a hitch, and you lose your arm and your best friend, Will (with whom you’ve shared about five lines of dialogue with over the course of 30 minutes). Discharged and disenfranchised, you join a PMC to get a new cyber-arm and continue the fight. Call of Duty has always had problems with making plot elements even remotely emotionally resonant, but this is ridiculously heavy handed. Combine this with navel-gazing from your character during the between-mission cutscenes (accompanied by melancholic piano music), and a lot of the game’s storytelling just comes across as forced.
It’s also directionless, in that it doesn’t really know what it wants to be about. Does it want to be a big, dumb action movie, a personal tale of loss, a commentary on transhumanism, or about the heavy commodification of war? It sets up a lot of interesting avenues to explore, and only gives them cursory glances – ultimately settling on the “yes, of course privately owned military corporations are evil” side of things.

But if you just tune all this out, and treat the game as a bombastic roller-coaster ride, you’re going to have a far more enjoyable time. With some skilfully produced set pieces, punctuated by moments of quiet, the game manages to hit a lot of beats that previous campaigns often aimed for – moving at a pace that keeps you interested, without overwhelming you with military jargon or explosions.
There’s also variety to the mission structure, which manages to keep you engaged on a purely mechanical level. When you aren’t following an invincible AI teammate through a firefight, or driving a vehicle along a linear path, you’ll be doing an assortment of interesting tasks. One moment you’ll be hopping between buses on a busy motorway, frantically trying to catch up with a van, the next you’ll be creeping through bushes and running across rooftops with a grappling hook in dense Thailand jungles.
But the multiplayer is ultimately the largest draw card in Call of Duty (at least, for stalwart fans), and Advanced Warfare separates itself from its predecessors in some key ways.

In terms of systems, a lot of the underlying stuff returns from Black Ops 2. What you carry into combat is controlled by a point resource system. Carrying different combinations of weapons, attachments, and perks, varies your point value. You can’t go over a set limit, and it allows for some inventive combat builds. Wildcards are also back (miscellaneous modifiers that allow you to do things like change how many primary weapons you can carry), and weapon unlocks are reached at specific level milestones. This still creates the underwhelming scenario of levelling up, only to find you’ve unlocked a gun that doesn’t suit your playstyle.
Scorestreaks also return from Black Ops 2, but they’ve been tweaked. They allow you to take a special action (like activate a UAV to determine enemy positions on the map) once you performed enough actions to earn that streak’s particular score amount. This boils down to killing enemies, or completing tasks in objective-based modes. Advanced Warfare expands on them with the idea of modules.
Modules give Scorestreaks additional functionality, at the cost of increasing the score needed to activate it. For example, you can customise your UAV to make it last longer, or make it scramble the enemy’s mini-map. Appropriately, stronger modifiers increases the score cap. This is a smart addition, in that it makes early

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