|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One*, PS4*|
|Dev: High Moon Studios|
|Release: November 4, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
New “threat grenades” are also a neat little mechanic, as they paint targets and allow you to see them behind walls. Joining them are new EMP grenades which can shut down electronics and scorestreaks, laser guns (yes you heard me) that essentially have infinite ammo but require a long charge up time and a concentrated held blast to kill, and a TON of different loadout customization options.
In fact, loadout customization feels like some of the most deep that Call of Duty has ever gotten. You have primary weapons, secondary weapons, perks of three different kinds, “wild cards” which are kind of like perks except instead of effecting how you play in game they effect what sort of things you can equip to your loadout, “exo abilities” which are short limited use abilities like health up, speed up, etc., grenade slots, tons of weapon attachments, scorestreaks, scorestreack customizations which allow you to increase scorestreak point totals to give them abilities like increased time, increased damage, or even the ability to retain the points you earned toward them through death, and an overall point tlta that your loadout has to fall under, and this is just the mechanical stuff. Outside of mechanical stuff you can customize your appearance in a ton of ways (male or female by the way) customize your weapon’s appearance, your emblems, your tags, and much much more. If you like setting up your character before battle, you will have a field day with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
But the biggest downside to multiplayer for me is the level system. Gone are COD points of any sort. Instead, each weapon, attachment, perk, wildcard, and more is locked either to your character level, or to some sort of achievement like in Modern Warfare 2. All of the cool and interesting attachments, including many that are included in your basic pre-set loadouts, are only available after a TON of grinding. Basically, you aren’t allowed to play the game the way you like until you hit level 30ish… at least, and even then a lot of the stuff you see people using (like the sight that paints your targets) is still locked behind an achievement door. This makes jumping into the multiplayer at a low level feel incredibly demoralizing, as everyone around you is handing you your ass with these neat customized futuristic weapons, and you are still stuck using basic SMGs.
After the brilliant point system in Ghosts (despite the rest of that game’s flaws) that let you unlock whatever you want, whenever you wanted to, this feels like a giant step backwards that simply makes the level grind way less fun. Even worse, you have to unlock every single attachment for every gun you have individually. So if you get a new gun, it’s by default going to be worse than your old gun, because you can’t customize it! I feel like a lot of the content is simply walled off from me until I have ascended to the rank of the glorious pro, not considering whether I might simply not WANT to grind for hours just to get the gun I care about. Leveling up only to get, say, a sniper rifle that you will never use ever is also not a lot of fun. I know that this is basically how classic Call of Duty titles like Modern Warfare 2 handled things, but that doesn’t make it good.
There are a few systems put in place to help ease the grind a little. First there is “combat readiness training” a game mode which allows you to simply head into battle against other players and bots and try things out. In combat readiness training, you are given random loadouts based around simple themes, so here you can try tons of different guns and options that you would otherwise have to grind for. This is an awesome addition that really helps ease the transition into the game for new players.
Another thing that helps is the “care package” system. As you play through single-player and multiplayer, you will receive care-packages which include special in-game perks (like increase scorestreak speed), special weapons (like gun models with a few of their stats tweaked), cosmetic items and more. Different weapons come in different rarities, and these rare weapons can really make the difference. For example, you might hate a certain assault rifle because of its lack of accuracy, but find a rare version of it that increases accuracy for, say, fire rate or damage, and you might love it. If you don’t love it, you can always trade in these random care package items for XP as well.
Unfortunately, these care package items have their own flaws. First of all, the “rarity” system means that some people will simply get better guns than others, which I don’t like one bit. I don’t like my opponent having a rarer, basically better version of the same SMG that I am using even though he is at the same level, just because he lucked out on a random draw. I also don’t like that these drops are level locked. So if you draw a rare weapon that needs you to be level 30 in order to use it, and you are level 9, it’s just dead weight until then, tantalizing you and, once again, asking you to grind for hours. If this was really meant to help offset the grind, why not let the weapons you find in drops break the leveling system, to give everyone a small taste of what’s to come at higher levels?
Co-op modes in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare also have their flaws. You can only really play in a classic horde style defense mode, and there’s no big theme this time around, like zombies, robots, aliens, or the like. The game mixes things up by restricting your weapons or fooling around with your enemy types, but it feels very straight forward and kind of uninspired, especially when compared to the co-op modes of the past.
And that’s what leads me to my very… very odd position right now. I want to play the multiplayer again but I really want an “unlock everything” code. There are a lot of good ideas here, from new and interesting weapons to cool exo abilities, but I just can’t stand the grind to get them.
On the flip side, the single-player is just so good. The level design is intricate. The story is amazing. The characters are believable. The theme and tone will make you think and consider war in ways you hadn’t before. The stages have hidden areas and pickups and replay value like you’ve never seen before, and even then you keep coming back as you try to speed run the game, no bullet run the game, melee only run the game, and more. Heck, this single-player has everything you could possibly want… except for a dog. A robot dog. Get on that for Advanced Warfare 2, Sledgehammer. I want to see robo-Riley.
So that’s my final opinion on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The single-player is phenomenal, and the multiplayer is good but limited by its own unlock system. I personally think the story alone is worth a purchase, and I hope that this becomes the mark of Sledgehammer Call of Duty titles in the future. Personally, I have played enough Call of Duty multiplayer already, heck, I have played enough first person shooter multiplayer in general, to know what I am getting in a multiplayer suite like this. Robot suits and double jumps and future weapons are all decently cool additions to the multiplayer formula, but a studio that is willing to criticize the U.S. government, capitalism, and global war culture in its story is a true rarity worthy of praise.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: November 3, 2014