The latest instalment in the now-venerable Call of Duty series lands on consoles and computers worldwide this week, but have new developers Sledgehammer done enough to revitalize a once-great series grown stale?
Early reviews of the title suggest so, with many critics calling Advanced Warfare the best CoD game since the genre-defining Modern Warfare of 2007.
Plus points are the game’s solid campaign mode and its “bubblegum sci-fi” setting, with a new futuristic exo-suit the jewel in the game’s crown, giving players the ability to jump and boost around a map (similar to but not as powerful as the mobile pilots in Titanfall) and adding a major new element to master in the game’s ever-addictive multiplayer mode.
Polygon’s review praises the story’s “somewhat sophisticated view of geopolitics and America's place in it,” but has only faint praise for Kevin Spacey’s motion-captured performance of Jonathan Irons, the CEO of private military contractor Atlas that wants to bring stability by force to the Western world.
Gamespot is similarly unimpressed by the story (“a future-facing story laden with disappointing predictability and villain posturing befitting a Roger Moore-era James Bond film”) but concedes that the “typical rhythm” of the game’s chapters “in which consecutive ground combat sections are broken up with a chase, a cutscene, or a quick time event” still offers value for money.
Eurogamer adds that the main feel of Advanced War’s story is now “how much fun war can be,” with the developers moving away from the usual grit-grime-and-despair feel of many contemporary titles to offer players a “world stuffed full of exquisite toys, where jet bikes tear through cities constructed of towering glass and concrete”.
However, while Advanced Warfare avoids some of the failings of previous titles story-wise, it’s certainly not without its eye roll-inducing moments; including one cut scene currently being mocked on Twitter where the player is attending a funeral and must “press X to pay respects”.
But this is small fry compared to a revitalized multiplayer mode given new life by the futuristic exo-suit. There’s the same mix of maps and modes, with a couple of new choices including Uplink (an end-to-end team game played with a spherical satellite instead of a basketball) and some ‘Classic-style’ options for exo-suit-free death matches.
Gamespot’s reviewer sounds almost wistful recalling their “first death at the hands of an online opponent who outmanoeuvred [me] with a midair strafe-double jump combo. The moment you witness such a move is the moment you want to learn it.”
Eurogamer adds that the “exosuit is central to your suite of powers, and it profoundly alters the rhythm of play” while Polygon concludes that with this new ability “there’s less safety, less predictability” and that this all pairs beautifully with “some of the best map design the series has ever seen”.
For hardcore CoD fans this was always going to be an automatic buy, but for gamers who have grown tired of the series it seems Advanced Warfare might be a reason to get back into the game and start worrying once again about your kill:death reatio.
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