Game Review – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox One)

Move over, Treyarch. Step aside, Infinity Ward. This year’s entry for the Call of Duty franchise belongs to Sledgehammer Games.

Back in 2011 they helped a little in a co-development with Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. And apparently they impressed so much, that Activision handed them the reigns to immediately start full development on their own Call of Duty title. Three years later, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is born. Does it hold up well against Treyarch and Infinity Ward’s past Call of Duty titles? Or was Modern Warfare 3’s success thanks mostly to IW’s main involvement and little to do with Sledgehammer’s help? Continue reading for my review and opinion on this year’s Call of Duty.

To begin, I want to talk about the main campaign mode of the game before moving on to the more popular multiplayer modes. Let’s start with a little backstory on the characters featured in the campaign story. This year Sledgehammer went all out and enlisted the very amazing voice talents of Troy Baker for the main protagonist and none other than Kevin Spacey for the antagonist. The story takes place decades in to the future during the year 2054.

You take control of Private Jack Mitchell (voiced by Troy Baker) and start your story off alongside your best friend Private Will Irons (voiced by Paul Telfer). During your first mission in the game, you’ll see how much war has changed for the worse in the not so distant future. Military technology has advanced rapidly, hence the title Advanced Warfare, and entire cities can be devastated within seconds. Whether it be by hundreds of heat-seeking drones, ultra-advanced weaponry and smart bombs, or even high-speed tanks that can obliterate a large building in one shot. You immediately find out just how dire the threat of war has become. Minor story spoilers ahead in the next paragraph, so read at your own risk!

Your protagonist Jack Mitchell is on a mission alongside Will Irons to help turn the odds in your favorite against an attack from North Korea on Seoul. Things start off shaky, but your team pushes through to finish the mission. At the end of it all, you manage to complete the objective; but at the cost of your friend Will Irons’ life along with your own arm. Due to this injury, Jack Mitchell is unfortunately discharged from the Military. Following this, you’ll take part in an interactive cut-scene set at Will’s funeral where you’ll run in to his father, Atlas Corporation CEO Jonathan Irons (voiced by Kevin Spacey). After small talk about Will, Jonathan offers you a position with the Atlas Corporation and a chance to regain your lost limb through highly-advanced prosthetics. And this is where the real story takes off.

I don’t want to give too much away from the campaign story, so let’s move on to another topic. With past Call of Duty entries, both Activision and the development teams behind the games often received a lot of flak from players about nothing ever changing with the gameplay formula. The complaints stated that every year’s title is just a rehash with different maps. While I can see why some people would have these complaints about the Call of Duty games, I personally have never agreed with them. I’d go with the old saying, why fix what’s not broken? The games are fun; campaign story is always full of excitement with nice plot twists, the online play is always a blast with friends, and if sales records and online player stats are anything to go by they obviously sell a whole lot despite being just “rehashes”.

However, this year, a lot actually did change. Sledgehammer Games took the basic Call of Duty formula and put a big twist on it with the inclusion of Exo Suits. Exo suits give players a multitude of new abilities. Including double jump, side strafes, hovering, an assortment of different hand cannon projectiles, and even the option to camouflage and go almost completely invisible among other things. In addition to these new physical abilities for your character, there is also a new type of advanced energy weaponry. All of these new inclusions definitely mix up the familiar Call of Duty style people are normally used to.

With all the changes though comes a new problem. Now that the people who wanted change are happy with the game, those who were okay with how each installment turned out every year aren’t too keen on all the new inclusions this time around. This is mainly because of Exo movements. With players jumping all across the screen things are a lot more chaotic. And those who are used to the basic Call of Duty movements just aren’t fond of gameplay so similar to Halo or even Titanfall. Fortunately for these old-school players though, Sledgehammer was kind enough to include a Classic playlist that includes fan-favorite game modes without Exo suits. I’m sure there are still some Call of Duty fans that dislike Advanced Warfare, but for the most part I think a lot of players will be happy with this installment.

On another note, Sledgehammer Games also brought back the fan-favorite mode from Treyarch, Zombies. Of course they also wanted to put their own unique spin on it by including the Exo style of gameplay. Thus creating Exo Zombies. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Call of Duty’s Zombies mode, it’s basically a fun take on the standard Horde/Survival game mode with zombies and its own storyline with 4 different characters. Players can try to solo it, or can set up a co-op game either local or online with up to 4 people. This mode is full of easter eggs, hidden items, and amazing dialogue so it’s always a blast to play through and try to discover everything with a full team of friends as you try and survive waves upon waves of zombie hordes and demonic dogs each round. The best part is that each DLC pack includes a new chapter in the Zombies mode so the fun can keep on going.

Overall, I think Sledgehammer did a fantastic job with their first installment in the Call of Duty franchise. For Online Multiplayer the new Exo play-style is a hit and helps freshen things up tremendously, while the Classic playlists keep those who would prefer the normal play-style happy. The campaign is an epic story full of excitement, great storytelling and amazing characters. And the inclusion of Exo Zombies should make for even more fun once the first DLC pack becomes available. If you’re a fan of Call of Duty, or first-person shooters in general, I think Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a must-have. Bravo, Sledgehammer!

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