Another year, another Call of Duty by Jack Bell
As the twelfth installment in the long-running series, Advanced Warfare has arrived with promises of being the biggest and best yet. As always, its release has been greeted with both antipathy and anticipation – no other games manage to divide opinion like COD does. Does it deliver? Is it a return to form for a series still reeling from the disappointment of its previous iteration, Ghosts? It’s time to suit up and find out.
In typical Call of Duty fashion, the single player is a six-hour romp through various Hollywood set pieces,with myriad explosions and bullets.
The story is nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Where it comes into its own, however, is how it plays – set in a futuristic America, players are armed with an Exo suit, which is a suit of armor that grants various abilities. This lets you boost jump, glide, hover, fire grappling hooks, shield yourself, turn invisible – the list goes on.
Whereas previous games would prompt you to press [X] in order to turn invisible, the Exo suit lets you use your abilities whenever you want, allowing you to tackle missions in multiple creative ways. It’s the breath of fresh air that this instalment needed and it makes the campaign an utter joy to play. The missions are great – this game’s stealth mission is a contender for best shooter missions ever – and there’s even a cameo from Kevin Spacey, who plays lead villain Jonathan Irons. Despite not being long, the campaign is a total hoot and absolutely worth playing. If you’re the sort to eschew single player and jump straight into online play, you’ll be missing out.
The multiplayer, however, is where the game truly shines. Previous installment shave all claimed to be new, innovative, the best yet – for all the hype and marketing, this one is a genuine revolution. The Exo suit is present in multiplayer too and as a result it feels more Halo than Call of Duty. This new movement system radically overhauls a multiplayer that has become stale in recent years – it’s like nothing that’s come before. Despite being alien to the series, it has a fairly easy learning curve. In just a few games, you’ll be boosting and flying about like nobody’s business.
Advanced Warfare benefits hugely from this movement, adding levels of strategy and depth not seen in any other Call of Duty game. Whilst playing, there was one instance where I was chasing somebody who ran into a building – instead of running after them inside, potentially walking into an ambush, I jumped over the building and caught them off guard on the other side.
The maps are all designed with the Exo suit in mind – they’re more vertical than other games in the series, with plenty of room to move up as well as across. Whilst a legitimate strategy, shooter fans will be thankful to know that camping is next to impossible here as everything is more open than before. The pace is also faster, with objectives being easier to reach and targets being easier to find.
New mode Uplink deserves a special mention. It’s essentially space basketball with guns and rocket launchers, where the aim is to throw the ball into the opposition’s goal. Fun and surprisingly strategic – you can pass to other players on your team – it’s sure to become a fan favourite. Ranked play is also present, giving you the chance to play against players of similar skill and climb the tables.
Far from flawless, the game’s multiplayer does have some niggles. Some weapons, like the BAL, are horrendously overpowered, and the submachine guns as a whole are weak – but the majority of its problems are nothing future patches won’t be able to fix. Perhaps the most serious problem, and one that will be familiar with long-time fans, is the presence of lag. As of now (they’re supposedly on their way) this game has no dedicated servers, and the online experience sadly suffers for the lack of them. More often than I’d have liked, I found myself unable to shoot despite being faced with an enemy. It’s not a huge issue – if your internet is stable, you won’t encounter much – but it’s a big enough problem to mar what is otherwise an incredible experience.
All things considered, how does Advanced Warfare stand up? With ease. The single player, whilst short, is a total blast, made all the more enjoyable by Kevin Spacey’s so-bad-he’s-cool villain. The multiplayer, after the disappointment of Ghosts, is a true return to form and the best in the series since the initial Modern Warfare. It’s fresh, satisfying and a sure-fire way to lose hundreds of hours. What are you waiting for, soldier?