“Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” is the eleventh entry into the seemingly never-ending video game franchise. After 11 titles, it’s easy to see why the “Call of Duty” brand has been losing steam, as of late. After the “Modern Warfare” sub-series ended, the creators released two “Black Ops” entries and “Ghosts.” These were met with mostly positive responses, but the game-a-year tradition can be a tiring love affair for a lot of fans. Developer Sledgehammer Games aims to inject a bit of energy into the “Call of Duty” franchise; “Advanced Warfare” is the caffeine for a franchise that’s still driving, but had the potential of falling asleep at the wheel.
The game is set around four decades from now, a near-future where soldiers fight terrorism in advanced exo-suits, improving their agility, strength and speed. The Atlas Corporation, a privately owned military force with devotion to no single country, has risen up to be a juggernaut in military advancement and foreign relations. Its CEO, Jonathan Irons, played via motion capture by the great Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”), loses his son during a desperate mission at the beginning of the game, spear heading his ruthless pursuit of power and domination. You play as Mitchell, a devoted soldier with a robotic arm.
The game takes place over the course of several years across various locations, including San Francisco and Iraq. I’ve never been a “Call of Duty” player, preferring games that care about telling a good story, but I also acknowledge the appeal of this franchise. Deciding to give “Advanced Warfare” a chance is a decision I don’t regret; it’s a crazy fun ride with great customization and gameplay. And did I mention Kevin Spacey is in it? His Irons is reminiscent of his “House of Cards” character Frank Underwood—cunning and calculative, doing whatever it takes to get ahead.
The campaign is like a blockbuster summer flick that you’re in control of—it doesn’t have any emotional weight but it entertains and engages—with countless memorable action sequences to “wow” players. One such instance is a fantastic firefight along the Golden Gate Bridge that ends in a chaotic, destructive mess one would see out of some Michael Bay film, minus the obvious misogynistic tendencies and bad dialogue. The campaign captures attention right up until its final moments, which is rather anticlimactic after such an exciting time beforehand. Further, it can be very predictable on occasion. However, coming in at about eight hours of gameplay on a normal mode, the campaign could keep even experienced “Call of Duty” players busy for a good while.
The gameplay is smooth as silk. Having never been much of a COD player beforehand, it was still simple to get the hang of. Weapon selection is impressive as well at over 30 to choose from making multiplayer a treat. I mainly used the Bal-27, a fully automatic assault rifle with good range and ammo capacity. But it wouldn’t be “advanced” warfare if you couldn’t take control of the new features, such as the customizable exo-suit, which allows the player to jump higher and run faster. If players are worried these enhancements take away the realness and grittiness of past games in the franchise, have no fear; this isn’t “Destiny.” Enhancements are still kept in a realistic restriction. With so many different multiplayer modes and weapons to choose from, multiplayer, a key staple in the series, will continue to engage players long after the end credits of the campaign roll.
Finally, the graphics are amazing. It’s easy to wonder whether the cross-generation—the game has been released on all platforms, both old and new generation—hinders the full potential of the visuals on the PS4, but it makes no difference; the game is visually stunning, and the cut scenes look like you’re watching a film.
“Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” is a thrilling game that looks fantastic, plays magnificently and has great replay value; I know I’ll go back to the campaign eventually on a harder difficulty, and continue to play more and more multiplayer modes. Don’t count out the “Call of Duty” franchise just yet—it’s still ready for war.