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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare review

AT A GLANCE
  • Massive multiplayer offering
  • Fresh gameplay mechanics in single and multiplayer
  • Outstanding visuals
  • Underwhelming campaign
  • Unimaginative co-op setting

Franchise fatigue be damned. Sometimes a game comes into a series and does things a little bit differently. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare aims to change the formula for the better with a new setting and futuristic tech, and it succeeds with several game-changing features. Call of Duty has long stood on three legs: single player, multiplayer, and co-op. The competitive offering is full of surprises with gameplay mechanics that will make you rethink your online tactics and a progression system that will keep you in for the long run. But where the competitive aspect of the game soars with new ideas, the narrative and co-op features stand perfectly stagnant.

The campaign kicks off with a bang, highlighting the new, cutting edge weaponry and equipment at your disposal, and doing an excellent job of immersing you into the futuristic world of Advanced Warfare. The first mission has you entering battle from an orbital drop pod, blasting away drone swarms, and using your exo suit to perform feats that no other Call of Duty hero could do before, like deploy grappling hooks, hover over pits, and ground smash enemies to death. And that level of intense action is maintained throughout the 6 hour campaign, as we've come to expect from CoD. There are massive explosions and dramatic deaths aplenty, but you just don't care enough about the characters or what's going on for those moments to make a significant impact.

The story starts off strong, but by the end it runs out of gas. The addition of the A-list actor, Kevin Spacey as villain Jonathan Irons, adds a strong presence that is missed in previous CoD villains, plus the amazing graphical detail on all of the character's faces definitely draws plenty of attention. However, as the story plays out, Irons' relationship to the main character Mitchell and the other characters lacks any real connection between them and fails to make their interactions feel as emotionally substantial as they're meant to be. It all just feels thrown together in order to keep the shooting and killing coming. Then it all ends in a cliched 1980's action movie-style finale that begs for a pun-filled sendoff.

From a structure standpoint, Advanced Warfare's campaign primarily sticks to the tried and true method of tag-along-with-this-other-character and follow-instructions-or-you-die. The linear events take you through thrilling moments like jumping from bus to bus on a crowded freeway, assassinating villains using high-tech drones, or racing a boat through a crowded canal. Charging through straightforward set pieces and using the new exo abilities is entertaining to a point, but it's still the same tired formula. That said, AW does bring a few instances of structural evolution to missions, with sections that dare to do non-linearity better than the series ever has before. More like a small sandbox than a linear corridor.

The open segments are great, allowing you to explore and experiment with your high-tech gadgets in the environment. The new freedom also opens up opportunities for you to create memorable moments outside of the scripted set pieces. At one point, I was taking cover from an attacking helicopter and discovered that I could grapple up to it. So I did. Next I was standing in the chopper punching baddies overboard, gunning down the pilots, and jumping out as the aircraft spun out of control and exploded. And the best part was that moment was all me. It wasn't scripted. I wasn't forced into the attacking the helicopter. I was in complete control, and it was totally awesome. The single player definitely brings a few exciting new mechanics and gameplay to the table, despite the underwhelming CoD campaign tropes. But Advanced Warfare still has plenty to offer in its online components.

Sledgehammer's answer to the previous games' Zombies and Extinction modes does just fine, but lacks the creative, four-player charm of its predecessors. As you'd expect, you'll face waves of gun-toting soldiers and upgrade your characters and weapons, fighting to survive for as long as possible with three buddies. But unlike previous CoD co-op, little effort has been made to turn any of this into a unique, tailored experience. It all plays out in the standard multiplayer maps, devoid of any cool, co-op specific items or weapons. The standard for Call of Duty co-op is incredibly high, and with so many fresh ideas coming out of the future setting and player mobility, it's a missed opportunity to find such a low-risk, vanilla co-op offering.

But enough of all of that. Advanced Warfare's competitive multiplayer is where it's at. Everything you'd expect from CoD's online matches is here and then some. The weapons feel weighty, the shooting is precise, and there's plenty to keep you coming back for more. Player customization is huge this time around, allowing you to not only outfit your soldier with dozens of well-balanced weapons, Perks and new Exo abilities, but also swap helmets, fatigues, and boots for a completely unique look. The new loot system creates the most rewarding progression system the series has seen in years, and earning these pieces isn't just a matter of gaining experience, either.

As you're picking up random gear and weapons in the post-game supply drop box, you can find Elite versions of the unlockable weapons, which have specified names and special stats. The intricate skin designs of the Elites--along with the customizable gear--add a ton of personality to your soldier. Also, using a single weapon consistently can earn you a completely different in-game model of that weapon, complete with unique stats and paint job. Everything you do gets you something to personalize your soldier with, and with cooler unlocks, the progression system really sinks its hooks in. There's no escape.

Scorestreak Modules

One brand new feature is the ability to add mods to your scorestreaks, which adds a ton of customization to your loadout. You can outfit a UAV to show enemies through walls with every sweep of the radar, add the option to rip a turret off it's stand, and give a Goliath homing rockets all for the cost of a bit more score. 

On top of the random loot, temporary gear rewards bring a whole new element to the Prestige grind, allowing you to show off your accomplishments on your character. There's nothing better than displaying the hard-earned Bloodthirsty gear you got from a massive kill streak, or strapping on special sniper goggles you got from a long-range killing spree. Every new element keeps you motivated to jump into another game and earn something else to flaunt. The loot system makes ranking up incredibly rewarding, and I hope it's here to stay.

Most importantly, the exosuit changes everything, affording a major uptick in player mobility. The mechanical enhancement allows you to double-jump high in the air and dash in any direction at any time, completely altering the dynamic of a multiplayer match. The maps play differently than previous CoDs and added modes cater to the newfound aerial freedom. There's the new mode, Uplink--think basketball with guns on a multiplayer map. In it, the freedom of movement makes being the ball carrier an absolute thrill and gives you a fun alternative to blasting everything that moves (at least for a few seconds). Overall, the maps are well-designed, allowing players to take advantage of the high-flying boosts, and giving you plenty of high-rise areas to duck behind for cover or use to pounce on other players.

More Info

Release date: Nov 04 2014 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Xbox One, PS4 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Xbox One, PS4
Genre: Shooter
Franchise: Call of Duty
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language

The increased speed forces you to rethink your old strategies. Close quarters weapons are even more dangerous now, as it's much easier to close the gap on an enemy. Firefights last longer as a result of players being able to quickly dodge behind cover. It changes the way you run-and-gun in CoD because, well, you're really flying and gunning now. There was a slight learning curve for me as I adjusted to the newfound speed and flow of the matches, now it's hard to imagine any future CoD not using the same mechanics.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare excels in online multiplayer, with brand new mechanics and a complex, loot-filled progression system that hooks you in. But the surprises stop there. With a by-the-numbers campaign structure and unimaginative co-op mode, the competitive multiplayer mode stands as Advanced Warfare's strongest asset.

Multiplayer feels wonderfully fresh, thanks to the added agility of Exo Suit boosting. Sadly, though, co-op is unimaginative, and the story fails to satisfy when compared to previous installments.

This game was reviewed at a review event and was played on Xbox One. 

51 comments

  • Marvelous1 - November 22, 2014 8:12 p.m.

    Looks like cod has gotten so desperate to get back to former glory that they had to steal from crysis.
  • Solid19xX - November 18, 2014 6:42 p.m.

    COD meets Halo on this one, sadly I see the whole Cod franchise having the same fate.
  • danny-borden - November 14, 2014 11:54 p.m.

    Horrible Spawning. The worst spawning in call of duty history. I HAVE A SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM!! MAKE A GAME MODE WHERE THERE IS NOT 18 PEOPLE FLYING AROUND AND CORNER CAMPING A SMALL MAP. MAKE A 4V4 GAME MODES. LESS PEOPLE LESS THREATS EVERY WHERE!!!! Think before you sell a product.
  • Blueblue42 - November 18, 2014 9:39 a.m.

    I agree this game is total garbage, it's a mainstream game for nerds who can't get a kill streak, for someone who's been playing cod since it first came out this is a slap in the face. What happen to the COD we all once knew? This is a disgrace, you developers are insane for making this goofy, non skill needed, mainstream video game. Things have been going downhill ever since black ops 2, ghost was decent but this one is awful, I'm actually returning this game it's that bad, they made this game so people who actually suck can't get embarrassed, it's a even playing field, I have yet to see anyone get a 2.00 KD or higher in a game, THATS A PROBLEM. The features and the guns are great but the gameplay is pathetic, for once show some respect for the ppl who are actually good in COD, I've been a beast at all COD except the last 2, and it's not just me I have 86 friends on PSN for ps4 and they all feel the same way about this garbage game. It's not a coincidence that I feel this way, this game is horrible, this is not COD, change the name please. You all should make a collectors edition for all COD for ps4 and Xbox one that way THE REAL COD PLAYERS not the mainstream scrubs who complain about getting spawned killed can play the other cods we love, I can go on and on about this garbage game but I'm done for now
  • raschiem-luna - November 14, 2014 4:50 p.m.

    I enjoy this game I may be one of the few who does but I DONT CARE. i haven't enjoyed a Call of Duty game Mw2 and mw3!!! the black op was ok black ops 2 was trash (my opinion) people complain about camper but reality is EVERY FPS HAS CAMPERS!!!!! DOESNT MATTER IF HALO BATTLEFIELD OR COD!!!! CAMPERS ARE GONNA CAMP IF YOUR NOT SMART ENOUGH TO FIND A WAY TO TAKE THEM OF THATS ON YOU!!!! (ONCE AGAIN MY OPINION1!!!) i play ive play just about every franchise fps theat been releast since SEGA consles. everything feels the same at this point yes you can now use jetpacks like Crysis, halo, and titanfall(which had no f*cking story mode, yet nobody said sh*t about!!!!!!) so what!!!! ill probably get abunch of hate for writing this but im just being honest ill take all the hate it fuel my rage as i slaughter campers lol!!!!!
  • dante-figueroa - November 13, 2014 10:43 a.m.

    Nice story mode but THE WORST MULTIPLAYER MODE EVER waste of money
  • michael-brown - November 11, 2014 12:23 a.m.

    Hey guys Check this out. the full gameplay of call of duty advanced warfare. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qum-7xfYlKU&list=PLoXWRNhHDYjufcZvNzX1GXPg1_S82kXNi
  • blugamer44 - November 4, 2014 8:48 p.m.

    G2A has Advanced Warfare for pretty cheap right now: https://www.g2a.com/r/call-of-duty-advanced-warfare-pc-steam After being disappointed with COD Ghosts, Advanced Warfare has definitely changed my perspective of COD.
  • hunter2life - November 4, 2014 1:16 p.m.

    This vid pretty much sums up how i feel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xIQ2UWrqT4
  • Asmodean - November 4, 2014 11 a.m.

    Don't want to come off as a jerk but if the campaign & co-op are lack luster (a disappointing outcome) and only the multiplayer is worth while, what justifies the 4 star rating? 2/3 of the game is below expectations I don't really get the justification that the multiplayer makes up for it (and yes I did read the whole review). An opinion is an opinion and I'm not questioning that reviewers' but logic would say that since the game shipped with a story and co-op that those elements should be weighted in an equal fashion in the review. It would be fine to wright a glowing review about the the game's multiplayer while expressing disappointment over story and giving the game a low score. That would be a more sincere review that respects all type of gamers, not just the multiplayer first crowd.
  • winner2 - November 4, 2014 9:08 a.m.

    I guess it makes sense that if a game is the same every time that it will get about the same score every time.
  • talleyXIV - November 3, 2014 11:04 p.m.

    Co-op is awful but they did announce zombie DLC. Multiplayer is good but I can't help but feel that the Exo suit just makes it so not CoD-like, it feels like another game and it bugs me.
  • GOD - November 3, 2014 7:02 p.m.

    Advertisers must really like it when a new COD (of first party FPS) comes out, because the comments section turn into a field day. I'm not a fan of COD, I didn't buy the last ones, and I'm not buying this one. What's the moral? My opinions are irrelevant and any hate I'd try to throw at this game would only serve to fuel the egos of people who are on that crusade or insult the people that like it. I don't like COD games, but I gaurantee if this exact same game shipped from a different studio and without the "Call of Duty" at the beginning of the title it would just be ignored by the people who weren't on board to play it. Having "Call of Duty" in front of your game title is basically being born with the mark of the beast as far as the internet is concerned. Good or bad people are already convinced that you're going to defile everything they hold dear and so they're doing everyone else a service by attacking this newborn babe. tl;dr - stop spewing shit when you claim to hate shit so much. Also GR, please no on the auto play videos. That's just asking me to not even bother loading up pages when I'm scrolling through and then ultimately forgetting to go to them in the first place. Seriously just let me hit play on my own.
  • BladedFalcon - November 3, 2014 6:40 p.m.

    Ugh... is GR going to start auto-playing videos too? that shit is super obnoxious when IGN does it, it's not any less so here.
  • pl4y4h - November 3, 2014 3:45 p.m.

    Coming back and looking at these responses I realize that the "hate cod and everything associated with it" fad is still alive and well. Some of this hatred is pretty irrational lol....you guys know you're not being forced to buy it right? Vote with da money
  • Moondoggie1157 - November 3, 2014 4:45 p.m.

    I ave a choice as to whether or not I buy this shit? Really? I did not know that. Thanks pla4y4h! I'm glad you're ok with mediocrity...
  • pl4y4h - November 3, 2014 8:04 p.m.

    If you don't like it (or in my case don't care about fps's anymore) don't buy it. Less money for them, less incentive to make mediocre stuff. I couldn't care less, I have other games to play
  • Moondoggie1157 - November 4, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    That's fair, I probably care more than i should.
  • walt5104 - November 3, 2014 9:51 a.m.

    Hate to burst your bubble but this game is shit. The effing thousands of camping pussies have already invaded MP and the entire point of the game is completely fucked. Getting rid of this glorified cartoon as soon as Gamestop opens this morning.
  • justmatt101 - November 3, 2014 2:06 p.m.

    Hi! I created an account just to say you and those in this thread are among the most laughably bitter douches wasting cyberspace in the history of the net. Its a game. Its a fun game. And all you basement dwellers can do is rant and rave and insult the guy who wrote the review. And the developers. As if you have ever accomplished anything other than catch the flu. Take a laxative or something. Loser haters. Like any video game should inspire this reaction. LOSERS. Bye! Feel free to have a seizure halfwit I won't read it.

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