As most every first-person shooter fan knows, the aging juggernaut series, Call of Duty, pushes out new titles every single year. The series really got hyped upon the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, where the developers transitioned from a World War II arena to the modern stage. And the hype was substantiated. Call of Duty 4 was a huge success because it added creative gimmicks to the single player and introduced character progression to the multiplayer. No one had seen a shooter quite like Call of Duty 4. Now, however, the same gimmicks and progression which made Call of Duty unique have become commonplace in most shooters, and the series’ methods have grown stale.
This is the problem that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has attempted to solve. By transitioning the setting to a more futuristic world with new technologies, such as drones and the exo-suit, the developers attempted to turn previous creative methods on their heads and bring about something new again. And while the new setting and technologies have in fact changed the game in some ways, this is still the same old Call of Duty.
One of the new additions to the single-player campaign is the inclusion of the exo-suit, a mechanism in the form of several metallic bars that attach to and support the spine and upper and lower extremities of the soldier. This suit makes you and your allies extra strong and agile, enabling you to jump higher, move faster, and punch harder, much like the nanosuit in Crysis, although not quite as cool to look at or use. At one point in the game you can even turn invisible for a short amount of time. My favorite ability comes later in the campaign: the grapple gun. At the press of a key you can fire your grapple at a ledge and it will quickly pull you toward your destination. In one of the most awesome parts in the game you can fire your grapple at an airborne helicopter, take out all of the enemies inside, and grapple yourself out as the chopper crashes to the ground!
The exo-suit also comes with upgrades you can purchase by earning points. You can earn these points by making normal kills, headshots, grenade kills, and finding intel. Upgrades include faster reload times, being able to run or jump farther, and taking less damage from explosions. This kind of single-player character progression hasn’t been seen since Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and is a welcome change.
The exo-suit isn’t the only new addition, of course. Throughout the campaign you will see some other cool weapons and gadgets, including drones that you can command, smart grenades that fly to their target before exploding, and my personal favorite, the mute charge: an explosive device that prevents sound waves from traveling within a radius. With a team and a mute charge, entire rooms of enemies can be cleared without alerting the other tangos.
The story isn’t all that special. We’ve seen it in movies and games before, where a corrupt CEO tries to take over the world with his military corporation. What does sell the story is, of course, Kevin Spacey. It’s no surprise that Spacey delivers an awesome performance as Jonathan Irons and you can’t wait for the moment he comes back on screen. The CGI mapping of Spacey’s face is also very realistic and impressive, as are the graphics of the entire game.
While Advanced Warfare adds all of these neat, new features, it still feels very much like the Call of Duty of old. Even with all of the exo-suits abilities and upgrades, you still do what you always do in Call of Duty: aim, shoot, and take cover. In fact, you often find yourself doing just these three things rather than using cool, new abilities like turning invisible or slowing down time. And perhaps this is what the developers wanted. If they made this game like a sandbox or open-world experience, it may feel too much like Crysis. If they focused the player to use the new abilities too often, it may feel more like a platformer than a first-person shooter. Therefore it’s better to go the safe route and stick to what players are used to from a Call of Duty game.
While this game is only slightly better than average, I still had some fun playing it. Having owned all of the Call of Duty titles, it’s nice to know there’s still some constants in the gaming world.