Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4)

By Derek Pettinelli

Published on Monday, November 17, 2014

Editor’s Note: This review does not compare the PS4 version with the previously reviewed Xbox One version, instead providing an alternate take from a different author.

Call of Duty: Advanced Fatigue

Prior to the launch of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, news reports were being released that the pre-orders for this title were the lowest in the franchise history. As the 11th main Call of Duty title, has fatigue set in for this franchise or did the jump into future provide the series enough of a boost to stay competitive? After the disappointing Call of Duty: Ghosts, the next title, Advanced Warfare was supposed to take the series into the future and with Kevin Spacey as a star, it seemed as if the series was coming out with guns blazing in order to retain its title as the top franchise.

Right off the bat, the game comes out with its usual guns blazing mantra, but having played the vast majority of the CoD games, this all feels a little same-y. Locations change, guns change, there’s Kevin Spacey, but we’ve all done this, many times before. The futuristic weapons all shoot the same, with every assault rifle feeling just like the previous one. There are smart grenades which are homing, as they can be tossed blindly and seek out enemies, removing skill from being a necessity. The threat grenades require a bit more skill as they will illuminate all the enemies in the area, including ones hiding behind walls. However, aside from that, your “exo-suit” offers a double jump boost and also allows you to dodge in the air by clicking your left thumbstick in that direction, it’s reminiscent of the Xbox game GunValkyrie from 2002. There’s also a cloak feature and a quick-deploy shield attached to your arm, but these features are only available during select missions unlike a game such as Crysis which lets you pick and choose throughout the entirety of the game. This differentiation makes a game like Crysis more replayable as the restrictive, linear nature of CoD ensures essentially the same experience no matter how many times it’s played.

The constant hand-holding of the game really becomes tiresome after the 10th time you have to mash a button for no good reason. Need to open something? The game will take control away from you except for one specific moment where you have to mash a button. How is this fun? In this game you’re basically watching a game unfold around you as you’re constantly led down a linear path with very little variety to it. Watching something and then pressing [] occasionally is hardly a bastion of innovation. Why not just let the cutscene play out like Metal Gear instead of randomly tossing in the mashing of a single button, when I just watched everything else passively? There’s no skill involved in that, it’s just you following an on-screen prompt like a circus animal.

While watching the Michael Bay-esque constant bombardment of explosions all around you has been a novelty for some time, remember that this is the 11th CoD game and I’ve beaten them all aside from the Treyarch ones, although I’ve played plenty of Black Ops’ zombie mode. It just feels tiresome now, a game that plays basically the same as CoD4 did back in 2007. With so little evolution over 7 years, this game basically felt boring until the halfway point. After beating the game there were only a couple of scenarios where you had actual freedom in how you wanted to accomplish your objective.

The graphics in this game are pretty good when facial animations are concerned, faces are highly detailed and you can tell that it’s Kevin Spacey, even though the top-half of his face sometimes looks lifeless. Graphics related to the environment however look highly detailed, but the lighting (which was supposedly downgraded since it was shown at E3) remains a huge issue. Even though the game runs at 1080p/60fps on PS4, (which was the version I played), the flat and lifeless lighting makes it hard to differentiate enemies. Everything in the game just looks washed out, it blends together, so unless you have a threat grenade handy to light up the enemies, it is difficult to pick them out.

Issues ever-present in the series, such as constant enemy spawning remain unchanged in this one. Enemies spam you and it’s not like they’re using smart AI tactics, they just overwhelm you with numbers. AI in this game is worse than the first Halo. AI characters, both friend and foe usually just stand still, out in the open and shoot at you, never taking cover or trying to dodge. At one point, an AI ally told me to clear the streets as an enemy walked right by them, neither paid any attention to each other. The friendly AI is mostly useless and the enemy AI is largely incapable of any semblance of tactics.

The game’s campaign mode as a whole is a letdown, with only specific, controlled moments for your exo-suit to be realized. The majority of the game is basically just holding up and following somebody who walks very slowly and even if you go ahead of them, you have to wait for the scripted event to be triggered. There were a few times I enjoyed the game, but overall, it just felt repetitive and boring, unchanged in 7 years, this franchise has become dull and needs a lot more than Kevin Spacey to change that. Even the ending of this game was pretty much taken from Modern Warfare 3.

As for the game’s multiplayer, it offers two-player splitscreen like Ghosts, both online and off. The online multiplayer had some issues when I played, resulting in a lot of lag at times, even being booted from matches. Other times I played online were fine, but nagging issues like spawning and being killed by missiles from the sky are frustrating hallmarks of the series. The exo-suit adds a slight bit of variety to the gameplay, making it more fun than Ghosts, but Call of Duty still feels dated even when compared to recent last-gen games like Titanfall, which offers better parkour and wall-running abilities.

There’s also a survival mode, where I played splitscreen co-op, but is also available online. In this mode, you fight waves of endless enemies. It pales in comparison to previous survival modes in CoD games; the alien survival mode from Ghosts and the Zombies mode from Black Ops are all much more fun. I think one of my biggest issues with the game is most realized in this mode, it just feels boring and lifeless. This doesn’t even feel like a CoD game, it feels like some budget imitation shooter trying to copy CoD, the animations and lighting are the biggest detractors, failing to impress and leaving a mode that is hardly enjoyable.

As a whole, this game was a big letdown for me, with fatigue probably playing a huge part of it. It doesn’t feel all that much different from Ghosts, even worse in some parts, like the campaign and survival mode. While I think Advanced Warfare has a better multiplayer than Ghosts, it doesn’t feel like the evolution that the series needed. Titanfall on last-gen feels more advanced than CoD on current-gen. The engine CoD runs on just feels more dated every year and the small amount of changes given to the series aren’t enough to provide variety to a stagnant series.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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