Saturday, 24 January 2015

CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE: Gamertroll Review - Xbox One (Vr Rev) PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC

With the inclusion of it's new 'Exo suits', COD's conversion to the darkside is complete. It's now officially a full-blown SciFi FPS.. any tenuous pretensions toward realism have been left at the door. There's not a single real weapon left in it. 

Gamertroll has no problems with that.

When Gamertroll says 'new', that is to say new for COD. You have to take into account everything Activision does with COD is deliberate, they have a winning formula and any developments to each yearly iteration are usually inched-out at a glacial pace for fear of spoiling the stew. Mixed metaphors aside, by the series standards at least; Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (AW from this point) could be called revolutionary. After their work on COD: Modern Warfare 3, Sledgehammer games was a good choice with which to herald in this new SciFi FPS era.

Since the first Call of duty game released in conjunction with Activision in Oct 2003, Infinity ward has formed the heart of the franchise, all 22 founding members having come from the team previously behind EA's Medal of Honour: Allied assault. (Activision later Fired two of that founding team for 'Insubordination' in 2010 - They would go on to found Respawn Entertainment responsible for Titanfall). Over those 12 years it's has been fun for the most part, despite the naysayers crying repetition. Infinity ward has subsumed or created a whole stable of Co-developers most notably Treyarch and more recently Sledgehammer Games.

Gamertroll has thoroughly enjoyed all their efforts except the 'Ghosts' campaign produced last year in the choppy waters of a new hardware generation which admittedly left the rushed package feeling like the series in bastardised caricature.

Any casual observer can see that COD has now done 'contemporary warfare' to death, but It's been a predictable road with only one real chronological direction. 
WW1 never featured in a COD game while WW2 was the stomping ground of the franchise, a period that has been sadly abandoned since 2007's excellent Call of Duty: World at War in favour of shiner, more gadget-infested modern pastures. The 'Black Ops' suffixed games first scratched the Cold War/Vietnam Itch culminating in the second game's power struggles set in 2025, whilst we've seen three 'Modern Warfare' games trundled out in parallel, each featuring Tom Clancy-style storylines of World War 3. Add to those the previously mentioned COD: Ghosts fumbling it's way onto the scene, it's fair to say that for at least the last few years or so we've seen COD square dance all over the near future until the inevitable had to happen.

- COD, welcome to the 'distant future' - we've been expecting you for some time.


As you would expect, AW features an Impressively assembled set of future war credentials, the tech on show is exciting and easily plausible. The set pieces are still of the very highest calibre and at times still displaying that all important ability to amaze. Did you really expect any less? Well you could supposedly be excused after Ghosts.

However, this is not some superficial nod at the future. The Exo suits featured in Sledgehammer games new title are a game changer: Not so much in terms of the campaign but definitely for the all important Multiplayer aspect. These Exo suits mark a sea change in the playability of Call of Duty online. Mobility has been turned on it's head, with outlandish high jumps and multi-directional dashing opening up a host of new options available to the player.

There has been a chorus of Cretins claiming that COD has copied Titanfall with AW's new movement mechanic: They're wrong. Titanfall has an environmentally based wall-running parkour control scheme where movement can be maintained perpetually. AW now effectively employs a rechargeable dash button, a completely different system more akin to the upcoming Halo 5 Guardians. So don't listen to the nerks: AW is nothing like Titanfall.

Gameplay-wise, we have the same old campaign progression bottleneck mechanic with a smattering of QTE's (Quick Time Events) seen in every COD campaign these days. You know.. shoot the couple of concealed enemies that nobody else on your side can see and the whole band moves forward to the next checkpoint. Then watch some dialogue, Jump out of the way of a crashing helicopter or drive a tank off a bridge and swim to safety.. whatever. Many apologies if that's making it sound boring, because it isn't. It works as well as it's ever done, but would it kill anyone at Infinity Ward and Activision to allow development on this rigid structure one day?

It's all getting so familiar in fact that series veterans will know exactly where to find the game's collectable Intel laptops with minimal searching. If an escape timer starts or an NPC (Non-Player Character) shouts at you to 'hurry this way', have a poke about and sure enough.. There's a laptop. Unlike in films, predictability can provide a compelling hook in videogames but not in action FPS's like AW.

It was only a week ago that Gamertroll was bemoaning the stupidity of Farcry 4's Kyrati population and so it is also with AW's Campaign. Your NPC team is atrocious, again. Maybe the worst it's ever been in a COD title. The soldiers supposedly on your side will constantly sweep forward missing strategically placed enemies and announce 'clear' at the top of their voices.

Don't listen to the tossers!

Naturally the first few times Gamertroll assumed the coast was clear and capered forward only the be bludgeoned to death or shot fully-auto in the back by a concealed enemy. An enemy that in a complete failure of justice, inexplicably neglects to target your fucking Gonzo mates who just waved you on and are standing out in plain sight. If by some miracle one of your dopey team members catches some Karma bullets, they begin the endless body-pop of indestructibility. On the very first level Gamertroll purposefully sat and watched one jive his way through 2 minutes of tank fire.. didn't even think to move. They are as thick as pig shit and it's jarring to see such terrible buddy AI set against so marvelously constructed environments. Somebody shouts, 'Enemies at 11 O'clock'? You'd be better off Checking your six.

As standard these days with COD games there are 4 scheduled DLC (DownLoadable Content) packages for AW, The only real surprise being that the Zombie mode is DLC only and not included with the original game purchase as seen previously. Sadly the local Co-op is limited to a survival mode and is not available in any form in the campaign. Solo only. It's sad to think COD: World at War had a 2 player local and 4 player online co-op campaign fully 8 years ago.

Kevin Spacey deserves a special mention here or rather the advanced facial Mocapping used in the game to portray his performance. Up until now, most mocaps make actors look like they're auditioning for the next Friday the 13th or just shat a growler their pants. AW joins Halo:TMCC in truly cracking this technology. Sadly the technological achievement is not matched by the predictable scriptwriting the actor had to work with. Perhaps John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, Rose McGowan and 'that Walking Dead actor' (Gamertroll doesn't know the fella's name) will do better with their no doubt 'Cray Cray' dialogue for their Zombie DLC cameos.

Whatever one thinks of Activision or the COD series, they are undeniably great quality games and Sledgehammer has squirted out another.

The most predictable blockbuster in video gaming returns with new Exo-suit SciFi leanings but still provides the usual linear campaign spectacle partnered with the beloved juggernaut of it's trademark perky, prestige-a-holic multiplayer. The biggest selling game of 2014 is yet again not the best.

8/10