Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Review

While most reviewers seem to be heaping praise on Call of Duty for changing their game up this year, one true fan of the series is seriously disappointed.

INTRODUCTION

As happens every year at this time, another Call of Duty game was released. I personally now own eleven Call of Duty games, and have reached the maximum prestige level in every game since COD4: Modern Warfare. I’m sure some of you are shaking your heads at this point, while thinking to yourselves that I am part of the problem with the world of gaming. This may be true, but I have just always loved playing Call of Duty games, as have millions of other gamers.

However, this year something is different.

MULTIPLAYER

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (ad) was billed as the first truly next gen Call of Duty experience. The game has a much higher level of detail in the graphics and looks gorgeous in 1080p. The different textures used, for things like sunlight and water, are especially impressive in comparison to how the game looked on last generation consoles. Advanced Warfare also is the first game since COD4: Modern Warfare to make some fairly large changes to the Call of Duty equation. These changes can basically be summed up in two words: Exo Suit.

For those of you that don’t know, the Exo Suit is a futuristic metal frame that soldiers wear to enhance their abilities. It gives players the option of double jumping for a big boost, and the ability to dash in various directions. With the introduction of this suit, we now also have completely different maps where there are multiple levels in terms of verticality. You no longer can know what height level the opposition will be at, as there are a lot of height levels and the player also could be jumping or boosting. Once you do fire, the player will no doubt be dashing this way and that to avoid your fire. If they are near cover, they will be gone in an instant.

You would think that the Exo Suit would level the playing field and make it so that bad players can get away from the good players, but it seems to have the opposite sort of effect. Advanced Warfare seems to be setup to cater to clans, and the clans that work together are able to easily lay waste to groups of bad players in a way that was never really possible in past iterations of the franchise, and this is down to their expertise with the Exo suit and the way that the maps are setup in Advanced Warfare.

It used to be that the maps would always have some sort of choke point, and a single good player could hold that point and dominate the map. This year’s maps seem to all almost be devoid of these sorts of spots, and even if there is one, you can navigate around it using the Exo suit. The result of this adjustment is that when you are on a bad team and are playing against a good clan, there is nowhere to hide and no single player can make a significant impact on one game. You just have to go out in the open and battle the group of good players by yourself.

For me, the result of the Exo suit is that it has become harder to prey on the bad players, while also making it easier for the good clans to prey on me. In all the past Call of Duty games since COD4: Modern Warfare I have had a K/D of about 2 to 2.5, and I usually have been good enough that my team always will stand a chance as I put up high scores. I typically could have an even better K/D if I wanted, but prefer to try for big scores instead of camping. I also achieve those scores playing by myself; I have always refused to join clans.

This year, there seems to be nothing I can do to get those higher scores and to maintain that high K/D. I’m currently at a 1.6 K/D after 10,000 kills, and it has been a struggle to get that. Part of the problem is that whenever I join a game, it puts me into a game that is already going on and my team is always way behind. If I do get into a lobby, it is against a clan of players playing together while my team is a bunch of random low level, new players. If I back out of the lobby and search for a new game, it puts me back in the same lobby over and over. Today I got back into the same lobby 8 times in a row. I then tried to wait out the game by not spawning, which sometimes results in a kicked for inactivity, but this year’s game seems to only do that occasionally and doesn’t do it every time. They have brought back dashboarding, so if you really don’t want your game to count you can just sign out.

This problem with me always ending up playing against clans is built into the game through some new system where players are matched based on skill level. That also no doubt is part of why my K/D is down so much this year. I only am allowed to play against other good players, most of which are in clans playing together. Gone are the days of mainly playing against bad players, which is really one of the things I loved the most about Call of Duty.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Multiplayer

My favored game recently in Call of Duty (Since MW3) has been Kill Confirmed, but that is basically not viable in the new game as it is so difficult to get those floating tags without being killed. Usually Call of Duty has a Mercenary mode, but that has been left out this year. I have found myself playing a lot of Capture the Flag, where I can single handedly win the game by being sneaky and scoring the flag for my team, and then defending my team’s flag. I have found that I can influence that game the most as an individual. As my main gripe is with the Exo suit, I’ve tried playing the classic modes that don’t have the Exo, but the maps are all set up for the Exo suit and it is really difficult to navigate the maps in the classic modes.

Some other things I should mention about the multiplayer is that the guns are actually fairly balanced this year, although everyone seems to be using the BAL-27 or the ASM-1. This has been a complaint in the past for me, but I think they at least got the balance okay this year. It is nowhere near as bad as the last Sledgehammer game, MW3, where everyone used the Type 95. My complaint about the weapons is that very few of them are especially fun to fire. I do like the MORS and Atlas snipers, but there is only one map good for snipers (Ascend).

Player movement is especially choppy feeling this year, as your player stomps his feet when running and constantly gets stuck on small objects. The Exo suit makes the game itself feel clunky and chaotic, as you jerk around to look and fly in random directions. There also are a lot of spots that you think you can sit on or jump on, like a box in the corner, but then find there is a force field around that box and it repels you. The hit marker problems that were basically resolved in BLOPS II have returned in this game. You can be getting shot at, duck behind cover for a second, and then fall over dead. In the kill screen, you’ll see that the player shooting at you just shot at the space that you had been after you had left, and was given hits for it.

In terms of connections and lag, this is the worst Call of Duty to date. There have long been rumors of “Lag Compensation” in Call of Duty games, and in this year’s game the connection is so random and unreliable that I really am now starting to believe “Lag Compensation” is a real thing. My internet runs at 30 MB/Sec, yet I mostly am forced into playing a half second behind the live play. Almost every game there is a moment where I am watching a door and start firing just before an enemy player rounds the corner, I then fall over dead despite easily winning the fight on my screen, and on the kill screen I watch as the enemy player walks into the room, notices me, and kills me before I fire a shot.

I also get games where I am slightly ahead of play, and am forced to compensate by shooting in front of players. The “Lag Compensation” wouldn’t be so bad if it was consistent and the connection times were close, but sometimes being ahead of live play and sometimes being behind live play is very difficult to deal with.

Some features that we got in Ghost are now gone in Advanced Warfare, like the lean-and-fire. The new equipment all relates to the Exo suit, and all of it is really more of abilities than equipment. The drones that you get are basically worthless, and there are no C4, Bouncing Bettys, or Claymores. There are a lot of “must-have” perks, like hard-wired and the anti-UAV one. If you have to have it, then it should be built in, not be a perk.

We get some new ideas in Advanced Warfare, like the supply drops that reward you with specialized weapons, and some gear to wear. You also can trade stuff in for XP. That feature seemed cool at first, but I am now frustrated after finishing the third prestige level and not getting an elite version of the ASM1 or BAL-27, which are the two guns I and everyone else uses.

The interactive maps have been expanded upon, and we now get a map with a Tsunami and a map that flips from one side to another half way through. I do like the interactive elements in maps.

A few last complaints about the game is the font size on the lobby screens and the score card. It is so small that I cannot read it. 0, 3, 4, 6, and 8 often look the same to me (BTW, I have a 56” screen). Also the voting for maps feature now just lists the map and you need to scroll over each to see what map it is. In the past, an image of both maps was displayed and you clicked the image you wanted and voted. Now you have to scroll through just to see what maps they are. This just wastes more player time and is bad user interface. A similar oversight was made on the game mode page. In the past, the game remembered what game mode you played last and you started hovered on that link when you open game modes the next time. This year, you always start at the top. This means that I always have to scroll to the middle to get to Capture the Flag.

Overall, this year’s Call of Duty multiplayer is the most gorgeous edition of the game yet and makes some major changes to the Call of Duty equation. These changes result in a much different game that is more of a mash up between Halo and Titanfall than a Call of Duty game. A lot of beloved Call of Duty features have been cast aside, like equipment and Mercenary mode, and in their place we get drones and abilities.

I’m sure that a lot of people love this game (I just read that it is November and December 2014’s biggest seller), and it has been entertaining for me, but this game just doesn’t feel like Call of Duty and thus is a huge disappointment for me. I usually max prestige these games and have done so every year since COD4: Modern Warfare, but this year’s game just isn’t fun and I will probably not even make it to the sixth prestige. I hope that the next game returns to the old Call of Duty formula. I’m pretty sure the next team on deck is Treyarch, who have been the best Call of Duty studio in my opinion. I loved the campaign in Black Ops and thought Black Ops 2 had the best multiplayer of any Call of Duty game ever, so I have high hopes for Treyarch. I will not be buying anything by Sledgehammer again though, which seems to be a sentiment I have seen a lot online.

If I were rating the Advanced Warfare multiplayer by itself; I would give it a 4 out of 10. For what it is, it was executed okay apart from the lag issues, it just isn’t what I was expecting or wanted, and the lack of some features and neglecting of details in the game really turns me off to it. This game sort of feels like an empty shell, like they gutted Call of Duty, added jetpacks, and slapped on a new coat of paint. As this was supposed to be the first truly next gen Call of Duty, I had thought we would end up with a lot more customization options, maps, weapons, and equipment, but this game has less content inside of it than any of the past three Call of Duty games. For me, this is the worst Call of Duty multiplayer ever. I won’t be buying any more Advanced Warfare games after this game.

CAMPAIGN

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

As a House of Cards fan, I of course was looking forward to Kevin Spacey (AKA Frank Underwood) being in the new Advanced Warfare story. I expected him to be the villain, and after some initial missions that were fairly interesting (like Korea, the Camp David missions, and the Hades missions) I was finally given what I had been waiting for, Irons as the villain.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Irons

Sadly, from that point on the story was really not that interesting and I’m not sure that it even made sense. Irons was supposed to be in charge of this military super power that covered the globe and had the US surrounded, yet the American’s march right into New Baghdad to take him out. The American soldiers are all killed by the chemical weapon Irons has created, except for the three Atlas operatives, and those three then single handedly go through the city and take out Irons.

After Irons is revealed as the villain, he seems to be on a crash course to quickly be found out by the world and then be killed. There really is just nothing interesting in terms of story. They tried so hard to give the campaign a “House of Cards” feel, even using similar music, but it just comes off as poorly done and uninteresting.

The missions, however, are well done and are diverse. We once again get a mission where you fly something, a mission in a truck on the road, a night vision mission, a stealth mission, along with other set piece type things that are common in Call of Duty games. Some interesting additions are the hover bike, the boat that also is a submarine, and the Titan suit.

The campaign was short and sweet. For me it was fun, although I wish the story had been better. I am curious as to where the Advanced Warfare story goes from here. Is Atlas perhaps still basically a super power in the world and will they have a new CEO? Will the story continue to be related to Irons? Perhaps Atlas is overrun and their weapons go out to the wrong people, leaving either them or the US government to track them down?

I would give the campaign a score of 7 out of 10. It was fun and played out the way most Call of Duty campaigns do, although with some added new mission types and the Exo suit added something. As previously mentioned, the game is gorgeous, and the campaign also felt like it had more love and detail put into it. The story was lacking and felt like there was no pay-off at the end, but it always felt promising. I might just be willing to rent a future Advanced Warfare game just to play the campaign.

EXO SURVIVAL

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Exo Survival

I really consider the third mode in all Call of Duty games to be a bonus that adds value. There really is nothing wrong with this year’s third mode, Exo Survival. It can be fun to withstand waves of enemies. For me, it just gets boring fast. I have spent hours upon hours in the zombie modes and spec op modes in the past, and this doesn’t really compare to those added modes at all. It really feels like this mode was added because they had to have some sort of bonus mode. It is nice to get another game mode, but I can’t see anyone buying the game for Exo Survival the way people buy Treyarch games just for Zombies. I honestly think I played it once and never went back. I give this mode a score of 6 out of 10.

OVERALL

My overall opinion of this game is that I am extremely disappointed with it. As mentioned, I have loved Call of Duty for over a decade now, and this game is the first that has severely let me down. I gave Ghosts a 6.5 last year for feeling “Blah,” but that game really felt like Call of Duty and I got 14 days (in hours) of playing time out of it. I’m 50 hours into Advanced Warfare (plus probably another 8 hours for the campaign), and might just be done with it. The game just isn’t fun, and usually is just frustrating. I can’t get into a good game where I can just play random people, it always puts me against a clan or into a game where my team is already getting destroyed, and all the details in this game just feel wrong.

I’m giving Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (ad) a 5 out of 10. It has good graphics, and the campaign was okay, but the new Exo Suit wrecks multiplayer, and a lot of details in this game are lacking. I look forward to seeing what Treyarch is working on, but am likely done buying anything with the words “Advanced Warfare” or “Sledgehammer” written on it.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
5

Score

5/10

    Pros

    • They tried to mix up the Call of Duty formula and do something new.
    • The campaign was diverse and had a lot of new mission types.
    • Graphically far superior to past Call of Duty games.

    Cons

    • Game functionality is often buggy and laggy, although it technically does at least work.
    • The Exo Suit makes multiplayer completely different, and that isn't a good thing.
    • The game has fewer maps, gamemodes, weapons, equipment, etc. than recent Call of Duty games.