I generally preface these articles by talking about my own experience (or lack thereof) with a given game or franchise. I am happy to say that I have had quite of experience with the Call of Duty franchise, and first encountered it when the games were still setting themselves during World War Two. I have played through every installment (more or less) and have enjoyed both the single and multiplayer gameplay. As far as shooters go, the Call of Duty franchise is most certainly one of the better options available with slick gunplay and polished single-player campaigns for some of their earlier installments. When the option was given to me to examine the newest installment, I was more than happy to take a gander and write up my thoughts on Sledgehammer’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
My first exposure to the new title involved watching the new trailer and was followed by a talk by one of the developers, which both heavily featured the setting and story. The biggest thing to notice is just how much the game appears to be banking upon the star power of Kevin Spacey in its attempts to bolster the single-player story. Don’t get me wrong; Kevin Spacey is an amazing actor and I love the quasi-cyberpunk dystopic setting where corporations supplant governments as ruling institutions, the weaponry is advanced, and the world is falling to pieces. The story appears to be continuing its tradition of courting controversy by commenting upon recent political developments as was the case with the setpiece “No Russian” level in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I personally think that games are an excellent medium to provide a critique of modern politics, even if I don’t particularly agree with the general militaristic attitudes which so often pervades the first-person shooter genre. The inclusion of Spacey in the game trailer appears to suggest that the narrative will focus much more on intrigue and the talk by the dev appeared to confirm this assumption, which makes sense as hiring the star of the immensely popular House of Cards series would otherwise be nonsensical at this point.
The trailer also exemplified some of the new additions that the setting provides to the gameplay in the form of the very sci-fi ‘exo-suit’. The exo-suit appears to be a mechanical suit of armour based upon real-world advancements which give the soldiers in the setting increased speed, strength, and durability. The trailer showcased some of these capabilities in its montage and I got to play around with them in the hands-on multiplayer which was on offer at the expo (a trailer we covered here sums it up nicely). The one feature I certainly had the most fun with was the jetpack as I bunny-hopped my way around the map. I didn’t really get much of a chance to kill anyone and I’ve probably earned the eternal ire of the other players which were on my team when we played deathmatch, but dammit, I had my fun. The addition of these jetpacks also added a new element of verticality to the gameplay as players jumped through the air to gun down opposition in the mid-air or be gunned down, as was more often the case with me.
At the start of the match, players are able to select weapons, modifications, and perks. There were some basic class builds, but the game encourages you to build your own class to suit your style. I cycled through the pre-built classes throughout the match and I ended up choosing a class which was catered towards speed, with the ability to propel myself forward in the air and slide quickly along the ground. The game also allows you modify the unlocks you receive upon completing kill streaks to further suit your style of play. There was also a virtual lobby in which you could see what other players were equipped with and a shooting gallery to practice while you wait for a match to start, which I think is a nice touch.
When the match mode changed from deathmatch to ‘capture the flag’, my tactic of bunny hopping around the map actually came into its own. To change things up on the old favourite, the area in which the players must deposit the flag is now a suspended glowing ball up in the air. This allows players to score in two ways: by throwing the flag through the ball or by jumping through it while in possession of the flag. The former option will score you one point while the latter will score you two. My proficiency with using the jetpack helped me to blitz across the map and score two-pointers with relative ease, thus earning back the respect of my teammates.
I lined up about 30 minutes of playtime on the multiplayer while I was at the expo and I feel that I can reasonable say that the gameplay is as slick and polished as ever. I overheard some comments from other players that it was basically a knock-off of Titanfall but, judging the game on its own merits, it’s still quite good. I look forward to playing through this installment’s story and finding out whether it is as good as Sledgehammer makes it out to be.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is set to be released on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS 3, & PS4 by publisher Activision in early November.
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