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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare!

The latest in the seemingly never ending Call of Duty franchise has once again hit store shelves and with jetpacks, new abilities and a generally advanced method of ... warfare, gamers are left wondering if it can satisfy the anticipation.

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Revenge of the Fallen: A common theme of the Call of Duty franchise, mass scale, politically charged global war and death itself are prominent aspects that stand at the forefront of the narrative, driving the storyline and giving rational reason for what transpires over the course of the campaign.

Advanced Warfare puts you in the shoes of Private Jack Mitchell beginning in the year 2054, with your first assignment dropping you into a hotbed of action, battling North Korea amidst an assault in Seoul alongside his best friend Private Will Irons.

While the objective was completed, the marines were mortally wounded in the aftermath of the skirmish, as Irons is killed finishing his directive while Mitchell has his left arm severed from the shoulder down. A meeting with Irons’ father sees the surviving soldier integrated into the operations of the Atlas Company, the largest Private Military Corporation in the world.

Fitted with an advanced prosthetic arm, Mitchell begins working under his friend's father, Jonathan Irons (as depicted vividly, both in appearance and voice, by Kevin Spacey). The underlying aspect to the narrative of Advanced Warfare is, as its namesake suggests, revolutionary methods of mayhem on the battlefield.

The storyline is driven primarily by the distain of democracy and political bearing on the world that Jonathan Irons facilitates, as well as Mitchell's drive to continue making a difference in battle after his friend's passing.

There is something to be said about the plot being engrossing, which it is, but it is also predictable in many instances and follows a virtually identical sequence of events as we have seen in past iterations of the Call of Duty franchise. Plot "twists" and other "unexpected" events are often suspected from long before their unveiling and although it is easy to marathon through the story to completion, but your heart won't often go through palpitations due to surprise.

Killing of the Future: As far as the bread and butter of the title: gameplay, is concerned, there are certainly a number of differences and alterations done to the latest installment to avoid the proclamation of "it's the same as every other!" Many of the changes are purely aesthetic, such as the HUD being displayed entirely on the gun, with ammo counter, total reserve leftover and other important data being showcased on your weaponry, rather than statically on the screen.

That said, there are also a variety of core changes to the fundamental aspects of the gameplay, with said changes being beckoned in thanks to the advanced timeline of the game. Jetpacks, "smart" grenades that home in on enemies, variable grenades that can be repurposed on the fly depending on your necessary situation, refined sights and scopes and in particular, "Exo Abilities" provide a breath of fresh air to the tired combat of present day (or historically ancient) warfare.

In the campaign, these abilities are used fairly often, with deployable shields, jetpack bursts, mid-air hovering and increased physical strength being showcased through each mission you undertake. These abilities can shift a difficult fight in your favor, and the advanced maneuverability and diversity of you and your team provide a welcome change of pace in the midst of battle.

It is debatable, however, how useful these abilities become when translated into the multiplayer portion of Advanced Warfare, where the vast majority of players will find themselves after riding out the initial single player campaign.

Jump Up and Down, Oh Yes: The "basic" ability of "boost jumping", essentially what would be a double-jump in many titles of the platforming genre, remains intact in the multiplayer as a default option, and adds an abundance of diversity to the maps.

The common practice of "camping" is all the more difficult, as nearly every vantage point can be reached by bouncing up into the sky and rustling your back feathers. It is immensely difficult to keep your back safe, and as a whole the multiplayer, both in map design and gameplay fundamentals, seems to facilitate and encourage more aggressive, reflex-based action.

Very rarely will you see players holing up in rooms or in corners waiting for a passersby and far more often both your team and your enemies will end up actively “running and gunning” around the map. As such, the overall Kill-To-Death ratio of the players seems to be quite paltry, but undoubtedly the gameplay is more action packed than ever.

However, beyond the jump boost that is provided to all players standard, the Exo Abilities that you can choose from simply have little impact or bearing on the match or even individual, small numbered skirmishes.

Increased speed, improved camouflaging ability, a deployable, Riot-shield-like device and the ability to hover in mid-air are some of the skills you have at your disposal, albeit for a limited duration upon activation, in your multiplayer exploits. However, the effectiveness and actual rate of use for these abilities is quite low, and being that they are manually activated skills, players rarely have time to utilize those additional attributes when happening upon a battle.

Firefights are usually over within a couple seconds and even if you were crafty enough to put your Exo ability to use, it is far from a monumental ability that can shift the tide of a losing battle, or guarantee your success against lesser skilled opposition.

The maps are built around many entry points into every area and having your back exposed almost perpetually, as it is the gameplay itself. With powerful weapons, quick moving enemies and large maps that lure you into a sense of security (before you inevitably get shot down, as usual), the pace of even "slower" multiplayer matches like the objective based Domination tend to work at a far accelerated rate.

Advanced Warfare facilitates a more skill-driven, pure type of multiplayer experience though and that is something I give it a lot of credit for. The weapons are well balanced; the maps are all structured similarly in their difficulty to "camp" and essentially many fights come down to who is the better man and got the drop on the other first.

In addition to the pure gameplay aspects, Advanced Warfare also allows for the deepest level of customization thus far in the franchise. While it is nothing particularly revolutionary, you will be able to outfit the aesthetic appearance of your soldier (male or female) with helmets, chest pieces, knee guards, gloves and even to the boots. You don’t see it from your first-person perspective, it is generally quite an important aspect, but the desire to drive and aspire to unlock the next weapon, armor piece, perk, etc. does well in keeping your attention for hours and hours. Not even to mention the timeless "Prestige" system that allows you to do it all over again once you max out your level!

Rent vs. Buy: There are many changes in Advanced Warfare and the team behind Sledgehammer Games took many risks in drastically alternating the oh-so-familiar formula of the Call of Duty franchise that, while leading it to monumental success, was beginning to fatigue some fans of the series after time.

The measured but important risks that Sledgehammer Games took in their approach to Advanced Warfare paid off in spades, and virtually everything from the brilliantly modeled, exquisitely eye-pleasing visuals to the return of "pure", wholesome and slightly less rage-inducing multiplayer impressed me with this title.

Perhaps the greatest detraction from the game is the fact that the storyline fails to bring out many shocking twists over the course of the campaign, but it becomes a question of if that is directly the developer’s fault so much as it is the desensitizing of gamers, as we have become trained to expect and look for the type of "surprises" Advanced Warfare's single player plot throws at us.

Undoubtedly one of the best iterations in the franchise, Advanced Warfare is a splendid title that is arguably marred only by its limited use of functional Exo Abilities in multiplayer, a miniscule gripe that does very little in taking away from what is certainly going to be known as one of the peaks in the Call of Duty series.

Report Card

Undoubtedly one of the best iterations in the franchise, Advanced Warfare is a splendid title that is arguably marred only by its limited use of functional Exo Abilities in multiplayer, a miniscule gripe that does very little in taking away from what is certainly going to be known as one of the peaks in the Call of Duty series.

Get Your Own Copy of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - PlayStation 4



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