I am about to save the President of the United States from the KVA kidnappers, when the game shifts in a different direction and I am amused and perplexed almost simultaneously. For me this brief anecdote sums up the Advanced Warfare experience for me. So is this Sledgehammer’s skew on the traditional style of the Call of Duty the silver bullet to finally put to rest the spectre of Infinity Ward’s Ghost?
The thing I enjoy most about the Call of Duty series is that it usually veers wildly from one violent crescendo of set piece action interspersed with periods of stealth, significant scenes of comrades lost or rescued. I imagine it is for others the challenge of achieving maximum prestige that drives them onward or winning a clan war in the highest tier. It is often easy to bash Call of Duty as through some poor decisions over the years the quality of the series has suffered. In an attempt to regain momentum new studios have been tasked to creating a fresh and exciting player experience but to also retain an element of familiarity or possibly even a brief sense of nostalgia.
After completing Ghosts last year I firmly believed that the King of the first person shooter could finally be confirmed as dead. While it the story was of average quality the multiplayer was certainly not up to the standards of previous titles. Let’s be honest as gamer to gamer the quality of the series has over the last few years has been in decline. The engine used by each iteration of past games, although heavily modded, has struggled. Over familiarity and lack of innovation has not helped, the recent PC port of Ghosts sent out the message that it was a rush job and did not perform adequately for many people.
For me Advanced Warfare has in some respects addressed many of the issues I had with the last few Call of Duty games. Sledgehammer has taken the format and added a fresh approach. This demonstrates that with good design choices something familiar can also accommodate new player experiences resulting in a fun game. Exo suits, jet packs and laser guns are not going to shield the franchise from criticism. Fundamentally the game must stand up independently of the brand, and it appears for the most part that it does. Sledgehammer should be commended for their work and the three years they spent developing and imprinting their own unique style on a series that has been starting to flounder.