As the controller vibrates violently and the sound of loud explosions fill the air, there is no questioning where you are: back playing another Call of Duty with all of the tense drama that goes along with it. Even before the start credits roll, there has been a brief glimpse at the typically bombastic nature of this game but when the game starts, it kicks off a rollercoaster ride that, once begun is so hard to put down.
The next generation of consoles has allowed Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to shine. It looks amazing, with realistic character faces that, as everyone knows includes Oscar winner Kevin Spacey albeit with some odd jerky movements.
It also sounds great; the crisp dialogue, the sound of engines and the unmistakable boom of war ringing in your ears. Before the first chapter is played out, you've become at ease once more with a franchise that, while on a downward sales slide, has lost little of its confidence.
Sledgehammer Games has produced a game with focus; an entry that takes players to 2054, bringing in all manner of futuristic possibilities to the gameplay including, but not confined to, the introduction of an Exo Suit.
In one fell swoop, though, this exo skinning has raised the Call of Duty game, lending the game a vertical as well as horizontal edge. There was a danger that the franchise could have tipped itself into Halo territory with this, and so lost everything that was CoD - but it hasn't. The Exo Suit extends the range of the player while retaining the pace that Call of Duty has always had.
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare: In pictures
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare: In pictures
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Well, nearly always. Modern Warfare has been the franchise's undoubted highlight; the one game which not so much redefined a genre but pulled in many a player unaccustomed to the shooter nature of such games.
By pushing Advanced Warfare into similar territory and taking, it would seem, some of its cues from MW, it is clichéd, for sure. But it's also an adrenaline drive, a leave-your-brain-behind game that, while never giving you time to consider the consequences of your actions, leaves you feeling full, if not rather exhausted. It helps enormously that the controls are so familiar too: you don't particularly need any hand-holding unless you want a reminder or are new to the genre.
The set pieces work well, by and large. You can control vehicles and there is new state-of-the-art weaponry. The single-player campaign has plenty to satisfy you before you get cracking with the multiplayer option that has turned CoD in a popular e-sports pastime.
During that time, you'll have engaged in all of the things that make you feel amazingly powerful, attacking vehicles, using stealth, blasting away in action-packed missions, watching as aircraft crash to the ground in a fury of fire. It's highly energetic (and very America-centric, to the point where you get tired of rolling your eyes) but Advanced Warfare is the shot in the arm that the franchise has needed for so long.
Still, it is also rather ironic. At the start, there is talk of people blindly following orders and yet there it is telling players to tap a button to pull a chord or, as many have mocked, press X to mourn at a funeral (mechanics that, surely, have had their day). It falls down too when it comes to the narrative which is all over the place. You do wonder why, after three years of development, more attention wasn't given to the plot.
That said, it is a thrill to see Mr Spacey in the game and you can see why he's there. His acting is good, if not a tad over-the-top (does he feel playing a video game character requires such an approach?) but without him the game may not have got the same sort of attention. As it is, more people will likely play and from that they will experience a game that is amazingly good fun.
For ultimately, Advanced Warfare is an entry that has come on leaps and bounds over more recent Call of Duty iterations. We look forward to Sledgehammer's next entry in three years' time and hope the other two studios working on CoD can be similarly inspired over the next two.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is out now on Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, PC; priced at £54.99Reuse content