Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Review – Spoilers Inside
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare was supposed to be a step forward. Instead it takes little risks and does nothing substantial to push the series further. The campaign is forgettable fodder of predictable twists, and takes control away from the player often. Multiplayer contradicts itself by giving you more vertical mobility, but punishes you for utilizing it. Everything meshes together to deliver a completely standard game that checks all the Call of Duty boxes.
The Call of Duty Advanced Warfare campaign is utterly predictable, which is not surprising, but also not forgivable. This is especially annoying when the game attempts to build up the drama behind a twist that I saw coming before the game even started. Of course the person I just killed wasn’t the real villain, we’re only five minutes into the mission! The biggest offense is when Call of Duty Advanced Warfare reveals that Kevin Spacey, who plays Jonathan Irons, Atlas CEO, is actually the real villain behind it all. The game treats me as if I was a brainless consumer who didn’t already know that Spacey always plays the villain. However, Spacey is also the best part of the campaign. He gives grand monologues with that unflinching stare and easily comes across as a very menacing individual. Unfortunately there is nothing more to his character, he simply exists to fill the role of the antagonist and nothing more. Serviceable best describes his character, as well as the campaign at large. There’s no emotion, no meaning, just explosions.
Advanced Warfare’s opening mission is great, with you taking part in a larger war effort. You are simply a cog in the machine of war, serving a smaller purpose to forward a grander scheme. I always liked these mission structures the most. Serving a greater war effort appeals to me more than the special operations that fills the rest of the campaign.
Control is taken away far too often. Whether it is to show you a set piece taking place or so you can engage in a quick time event, it was never enjoyable. Everything explodes and you are constantly waylaid while on the way to your main objective, or the objective you had was not what you thought. This would be fine if it wasn’t so predictable. You are generally always following an AI companion throughout the campaign. But they are slow, and get in the way of your line of sight and frequently block progression.
One of the stranger, and also offensive moments, in the campaign is when you are instructed to, “press [square] to pay respects.” It’s early on, after the game has committed the sin of killing a character in the first ten minutes and expecting you to care. You’re at a funeral for the fallen soldier and told that if you would like to progress, you are required to press a button in order to “pay respects.” It’s very devoid of emotion, the game having you to press a button in order to display emotion at a funeral that in reality would be very serious and emotional. It just rings hollow.
Vehicle sessions return as bumper car sections and there is a nonsensical fighter jet level where all you are required to do is hold down both firing buttons and not crash into the terrain of the canyon. Why would a fighter jet ever actually engage in combat in a small canyon? Why did you require no skill by giving me an auto targeting system and limitless missiles? Why is my marine turned PMC agent turned soldier again able to operate a fighter jet? None of it truly makes any sense, which also applies to the equipment and technology used throughout. The excuse of, “it’s the future” let me forgive most of it. However once I witnessed my character and another using jetpacks to place explosives on an airplane I balked. The final comment I would like to make out of what could be called a plot is that it wraps up by stating not once, but twice that, “This isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning.” The whole game builds to this moment where the game states, “Buy the sequel in 2017!”
The confusing aspects of single player also carry over into the online modes. The create a class system of Pick 13 is forgettable and a small upgrade over Black Ops II. While I appreciate that I can equip three attachments and multiple perks from the same tier, there is nothing else worthwhile to be found in that system. Instead the biggest new gimmick for this year’s model is the exoskeleton, which allows you to dash and double jump. And while this allows for greater mobility, two factors negate the exo movement. One is that you get put down very quickly. The exo movement with its double jumping and mid-air dashes frequently leave you out in the open ready to be shot down. Two is that whenever you use the exo movement mechanic, you let loose a small blip on enemy radar alerting them to your position. This comes across as a punishment for using the main mechanic they built into the game\. You can negate it via a perk but still, my movement shouldn’t be appearing on enemy radar when its the main feature.
Perks themselves are too spread apart. Thinking back, there used to be a singular perk that would negate being seen by a UAV or being targeted by killstreak rewards. Now, however, there are four separate perks which all do the same basic function. Maps also feel circular in design, a departure from the three lane based multiplayer maps of previous Call of Duty’s, specifically Modern Warfare 2. This makes it hard to control a section of the map, since instead of there being a few areas where the action and movement of players are focused, now the action is overly hectic and everywhere. There is no Demolition game mode, but thankfully Momentum is present as a spiritual successor to “War” from World at War. The “classic” playlist removes exo movement and has been the mode I go to most often since it allows me to rely on my map control strategies I usually use in multiplayer games.
Nothing in Call of Duty Advanced Warfare jumps out to me as the next big thing. Whereas Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare 2 were major leaps in terms of what you could do in multiplayer shooters, I don’t believe we’ll ever see another progression of that caliber again. Movement is more vertical but also leads to death and the campaign just shuffles you along a corridor pointing out all the big explosions and expected plot twists. I wanted Call of Duty Advanced Warfare to be a step forward, but instead it hesitantly sidesteps innovation in favor of standardized gameplay.