Jeff Markiewicz On November 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare - 5Call of Duty is a franchise that has been around for over a decade. The first three Call of Duty games from Infinity Ward did a good job of delivering a dramatic war experience but was largely locked to computers. When Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out in 2007, it turned a niche computer franchise into a household name. Every game since has built upon that titles success. And with a new game each year, Infinity Ward definitely could not do it alone. The first to assist on the franchise was Treyarch and now with this title, we have newcomer Sledgehammer Games. Sledgehammer Games was formed by industry veterans who worked on Dead Space in 2009 and first lent a helping hand on Modern Warfare 3. This means that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the studio’s first game as a lead developer. Therefore not only does Sledgehammer Games have to prove they can handle making a game on their own, they also have to prove they can make a game worthy of Call of Duty.

The game starts as you’re about to drop into the city of Seoul, South Korea to rebuke an attack by North Korea. You play as Mitchell, a United States Marine and your squad’s mission is to assist a demolition team take out its target. Unfortunately, as it often is, things do not go to plan and the cost of the mission is personal to you. Not only do you get injured, you also lose someone close to you. At the funeral you get offered a job at a top-tier private military contractor called Atlas. You first task after training is to hunt down and thwart a terrorist group called KVA and its leader Hades. This starts your adventure.

The campaign is incredibly well done and polished. It really feels like a well-done 90s action film. Just like those, it is predictable and a little over-the-top at times but it’s a fantastic ride. It also helps that the game focuses on a single protagonist. This keeps the story focused and personal throughout the game. Kevin Spacey does a wonderful job as Jonathon Irons, the head of Atlas. It’s hard to imagine anyone else making as big of an impact as he did for the character. The game tackles some interesting issues and I wish the game did not go so overboard making the main villain appear so bad. I also wish the game had some more exposition in certain areas. Lastly, I wish the game handled telling you which specialized exoskeleton suit you had differently. Currently it gets smashed in between the cutscenes before the start of a level and those cutscenes are so well done and flow so well right into the gameplay, it feels like an FBI warning screen smashed into the middle of a movie. Overall though, you would think this franchise should be getting stale but Sledgehammer Games proves that it is not. I typically like to describe the Call of Duty campaigns as the Michael Bay equivalent for videogames but this one, similarly to Black Ops, does a bit more than just explosions.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is just as one would expect, a military-themed first-person shooter. Since the series has gone on so long, each new installment has tried to add its own particular touch. Advanced Warfare’s touch are the exoskeleton suits or Exo suits for short. These suits add a variety of new features such as double-jump and bullet-time. In the campaign, most of these features simply went unused unless required for the story. The double-jump was by far the most useful and near the end it was fun to use double-jump and grappling hook in tandem but overall, if they were removed, I wouldn’t have really noticed. Another new feature to the game is a vast array of grenade types. Typically, I have a blast using grenades but here I actually found them to not that useful. This is not due to their effectiveness but due to the unnecessary amount they had having to cycle through them all to get whichever one you wanted. It’s just not that intuitive to use. It’s unfortunate that the new additions did not pay off but it is a testament to the strength of the core gameplay that it does not suffer too much.

The Exo suits do make a major change to the competitive multiplayer though. The traditional Call of Duty multiplayer design is typically characterized by asymmetric maps with a myriad of pathways. This allows one to take the enemy head-first, flank, or even go completely around and come from behind. With the new Exo suits, the double-jump feature allows for significantly more mobility and freedom to get around the map. You have to approach the maps in a different way knowing that the enemy can be leaping over any wall or building. It also makes the maps a lot more vertical than ever before. The upside is that you feel empowered to go wherever you want. The downside is that you’re going to die a lot more from unexpected locations. I have come away with mixed feelings about it. That upside is huge and interesting but now death is all around you rather from the handful of doors into your location. These additions definitely change the feel of the game a lot. For those who do not like the changes, there are playlists without the exo suits.

The other way to play with friends is cooperatively through the survival mode. Here, like in previous installments, you attempt to tackle wave after wave of ever increasingly difficult enemies. The enemies are taken straight from the campaign but in future downloadable content, it has been announced you can face zombies as well. When you start each one of these games, you select which type of exo suit you want to use. Your choices are heavy, light, and specialist. This choice will define what kind of weapons you can use and what perk you start out with. As you clear each successive wave, you get access to better weapons, suit abilities, and perks. It is also nice that each wave isn’t just kill everything, the missions will vary. This game mode is very dependent on who you are playing with. If you have a party of random people not working together, you’ll die quickly and won’t have much fun. If you work together, you’ll last long and have a blast. I do feel as if the zombies will help this mode as the base enemies just are not that interesting to fight for some reason.

Overall, the gameplay is the traditional Call of Duty gameplay you expect with a bit too much new complexity. The exo suits are nice but most of their abilities are simply not that useful and therefore get ignored. The exo suits do add a new dimension to the multiplayer though but only because of the double-jump feature. The amount of pathways and places enemies can be are now exponentially greater. This is both a curse and a blessing. You’re empowered from your mobility but death now can come from nearly anywhere. Despite all of this, the pure Call of Duty experience still thrives. The campaign lives on it as the exo suits do not make that significant of a change. The competitive multiplayer get a bit harder but is still largely the same at its core. The developers must be commended though for allowing two players on the same box though. That is fantastic.

Call of Duty has always been a series that has been known for their great set pieces and this one is no exception. The character models are well done and animated. The cutscenes are also exceptionally done. Part of what makes the campaign feel so polished and slick is because of how well the game flows from cinematics to gameplay. A lot of games feel like a series of levels strung together, this one feels as if it was directed like a movie. It’s a great feeling. There are a couple downsides though. First, enemies are sometimes hard to differentiate from geometry and it feels like one it is on purpose to use some new vision augments. The augment displays enemies in red, even through walls, when you throw a threat grenade or use certain optics. The look is really cool but it doesn’t justify manufacturing a reason to use it. The other side is you’ll find yourself marveling at the detail at the textures in this game only to occasionally find some not up to par. Overall you’ll be pleased with the typical sixty frame per second gameplay with the graphical fidelity they’ve managed to attain. There is a step down in the graphics going to the multiplayer but it’s not bad.

The sound design is also well done. The first thing you’ll notice is that the voice acting is superb, headlined by Kevin Spacey. The second thing you’ll notice is that how well the sound design compliments the campaign. The guns sound fantastic and distinct. The soundtrack is split into two parts from two different composers, Harry Gregson-Williams and Audiomachine. One appears to be reserved for the cinematics and plot points and the other for the action set pieces. The duality of these two work quite well for the most part, but they don’t have an overall theme that ties them together. While their work is undeniably well done, not much of it stands out or is rememberable. Overall when it comes to the campaign, the sound design adds immensely.

Call of Duty has been around for a while and has now passed through the hands of several different developers. When Treyarch started to work on the franchise, they were considered the lesser of the two but when they did Black Ops, we knew they were no sub-tier developer. Now with Sledgehammer Games, one would expect that the trajectory to top-tier status would take a similar amount of time. With Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, their first title as a lead developer, proved that theory to be wrong. It took no time at all. The campaign heralds back to the great action movies from the 90s. They didn’t get everything right as most of their additions didn’t work out or added unnecessary complexity but at its core, the gameplay still thrives. The one new addition that works or at least makes a major change to the gameplay is the double-jump. This is most harshly felt on the multiplayer side of things. The verticality that it adds is definitely interesting. Whereas in prior games players were limited to the preset pathways through the maps, their avenues now are near limitless. The graphics are incredibly well done. One of the things that this generation of games were missing were great set pieces and this one does a great job with them. Some textures are mysteriously low detailed. The sound design is very competent. Kevin Spacey delivers a wonderful performance. Harry Gregson-Williams and Audiomachine do great on the soundtrack but lack a coherent theme that ties it all together. The campaign proves that Call of Duty has not lost its touch and that’s thanks to newcomer Sledgehammer Games. The new additions don’t all work out but the core gameplay still shines. Come for the campaign, stay for the interesting changes to multiplayer.


The campaign is like a well-polished 90s action film. The new additions to the gameplay don’t particularly pay off but the core foundation the series has been built upon still thrives. The double-jump in multiplayer is a blessing and a curse.


The graphics are incredibly well done. Set pieces are well done. Occasional low-detailed texture. There is a graphical step down going to multiplayer but still good.


Very competent sound design. Kevin Spacey delivers a wonderful performance. Harry Gregson-Williams and Audiomachine do great on the soundtrack but lack a coherent theme that ties it all together.


The campaign proves that Call of Duty has not lost its touch and that’s thanks to newcomer Sledgehammer Games. The new additions don’t all work out but the core gameplay still shines. The double jump makes for some interesting changes to multiplayer.

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