By: Saul Berrios-Thomas | Layout Editor
Advanced Warfare is the best Call of Duty since Black Ops, and it may be one of the top three Call of Duty titles ever.
The game, which was released Nov. 3, takes the best parts of the series and improves on all of them. It also adds several new components that really make the shooter feel like a game specifically designed for the latest generation of consoles. Call of Duty was developed by two different companies that rotated every year; Treyarch and Infinity Ward. After some issues with Modern Warfare 3, a third developer was added to the rotation. Advanced Warfare is the first release by Sledgehammer, who swooped in and saved the day when Modern Warfare 3 had their issues, and they have firmly grasped their role in the rotation.
There are three main components to the game: the single player campaign, the multiplayer and the co-op mode. Each component is essential to the identity of the game. If either of the other two modes are selected from the main menu, the games suggests trying the campaign first. The campaign allows players to get to know the new additions to the familiar game.
The campaign gives players control of Private Jack Mitchell (voiced by Troy Baker). In the first mission, set in Seoul in 2054, Mitchell introduces players to the exo-suit, the center of all the new changes. The exo-suit is a piece of equipment attached to the back of a soldier. It does a lot of innovative things, but the most important function is a jet-pack style boost that gives the players the ability to double jump and boost from side to side. This movement is key to navigating the maps of both the campaign and the multiplayer modes. In the campaign there is no heads-up-display, instead the amount of bullets in the gun are displayed using holographic projections on the back of the gun. The guns all feel very futuristic with some that fire energy blasts and even lasers. The different types of grenades are so diverse that the campaign only scratches the surface of them all. There is a variable grenade that can be quickly switched between the different tactical effects: EMP and “threat,” which highlights enemies behind walls, smoke and even stun.
After getting familiar with the new equipment the campaign follows Mitchell on a mission to push back the North Korean invasion in South Korea. During the mission Mitchell loses one of his closest friends Will Irons (voiced by Paul Telfer).Mitchell is also badly injured and loses his arm. At Irons’ funeral the campaign introduces the star of the campaign Jonathan Irons (played by Kevin Spacey) who happens to be Will’s father. The senior Irons is the CEO of a company called Atlas. This all happens during a cinematic sequence, which the game uses often. These sequences are so lifelike that there were many times I was unsure whether it was animated or whether actual actors were on my screen. Irons pulls Mitchell aside and offers him a job and a prosthetic that is much more “advanced than anything the military” can offer Mitchell. Mitchell accepts the offer despite some dramatic foreshadowing that indicates that Irons may not be as good as he publicly appears.
The remainder of the campaign follows Mitchell as he joins Atlas and completes several missions with his close teammate Gideon (played by Gideon Emory). There are some twists that occur along the way, but players will have to play the game to find out what happens. The story is riveting and at times captures the feeling of being in the middle of battle, while at other times feels like a survival horror game. The cinematic sequences only enhance the already visually stunning game. The voice acting is terrific and the missions are diverse enough to keep players going. The story ends up being a little bit predictable, and of course in the end a tiny group of people overthrow a giant corporation and save the world.
The story also really enhances the feel of the competitive multiplayer. The two teams in each of the different game modes are Atlas, Iron’s company and Sentinel, a key part of the later missions in the game. I developed an investment in each side for an equal balance. This is the most customizable Call of Duty has ever been. There are choices in everything that the multiplayer character wears. This also harkens back to the campaign by allowing players to equip Atlas or Sentinel attire.
There are several game types in multiplayer that connect the player with other players from all over the world. There are the mainstays like team death match, capture the flag, free-for-all, etc. There is also a hardcore playlist with similar game types, but lessens the damage required for a player to die and removes the heads-up-display. The Classic playlist removes the exo-suit limiting players to normal human movement. The match-making is much quicker than many of the other games on the market. The gameplay is fast-paced, but not too overwhelming for new players.
The final game mode is Exo-Survival. This is a round based survival game that can be played with up to four players. Enemies swarm the players, while they work to earn virtual currency used to upgrade weapons. It also bumps up the difficulty after every 25 rounds and can be played for an infinite amount of rounds on all of the multiplayer maps.
Overall the game feels new, but many of the things that made Call of Duty one of the top selling series of all time are still there. Sledgehammer beautifully orchestrated a game that feels like the future of online multiplayer while not neglecting the campaign. Reports of Call of Duty’s demise may have been premature. This new installment of the franchise makes the concepts that were starting to become stale into something refreshing.