iReview – CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE – Another step forward


Publisher: Activision
Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Platform: Xbox One
Availability: Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, Windows

I’m always a little behind when playing Call of Duty games. I used to buy them eagerly upon release, back when the single player campaign was the primary focus. This was back when Infinity Ward was in their prime, making the Modern Warfare titles. Back when there was one good Call of Duty developer, and one not-so-good developer. Modern Warfare 1 was great, Modern Warfare 2 was great and Modern Warfare 3 was a hack job, scrambled together by the gutted remains of Infinity Ward after Vince Zampalla and Jason West jumped ship/were forced out, along with a lot of the other senior creative talent. With the help of Sledgehammer Games, Infinity Ward was able to release a feeble conclusion to the Modern Warfare trilogy and move on to their next Call of Duty game, Ghost.

After the releases became muddled, with three separate developers working on their own Call of Duty titles, and Activision’s focus on Multiplayer and Zombies took precedent, I started to lose the insatiable drive to pick up the games on release, and resigned myself to get them later on in their life, around the time the next iteration is announced.


So that brings us to 2014’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The first Call of Duty title to usher in the new console generation, releasing simultaneously on the Xbox 1/360 and Ps3/Ps4. This was Sledgehammer’s first go alone at a Call of Duty game, and the results are pretty impressive, even considering they are working in the three year development cycle now.

Advanced Warfare pushed the series forward into the next-gen visuals, and for the first time since Call of Duty 2, used a game engine that had its majority re-written and built from scratch. The game’s story also pushed the franchise further into a futuristic setting, taking place between 2054 and 2061. Call of Duty Black Ops 2, Treyarch’s first step towards a futuristic game, was set in 2025.

The story follows one playable character, Jack Mitchell – as opposed to previous titles which followed multiple – and makes use of pre-rendered cinematic cutscenes to tell the story in between missions. After a mission in North Korea, and losing his friend in the fight, Jack is offered a position in Atlas Corporation, which is a private military organization. Following a series of terrorist attacks, the world turns to Atlas – who holds no country or government allegiances – to stop them. After a year of fighting, watching as the terrorist groups attacks becoming increasingly sophisticated and deadly, Altas – essentially for-profit mercenaries – has emerged as the dominant military force in the world, showing that they are the key to holding back the terrorist attacks and aiding countries around the world.


The story jumps forward a couple of years, and we start to find information linking the Atlas leader, Jonathan Irons (voiced and acted by Kevin Spacey) to the ongoing attacks, showing that he has been deliberately allowing the attacks to occur to continue Atlas’s reputation, profit, and power throughout the world. When his devious plan is revealed, Irons takes to the United Nations General Assembly, reveals his plan to remove all politicians, and declares war on the world. And there isn’t a country with a big enough military to stop him.


Coinciding with the futuristic theme in the story, drones, and other futurist technology play a big part in the game, and gameplay mechanics. The player is equipped with an exo-skeleton suit that allows for boosting in different directions, or long falls and a soft landing. It allows for additional strength as well, for melee combat, and moving large objects, like cars; ripping the door off a car and using it as a shield is pretty fun. There are also a few instances where a mute charge is used, when taking part in a breach-and-enter. Everything in the zone of the mute charge is silenced, and is an interesting event to watch unfold. The guns in the game are updated as well, and offer different types of scopes – some of the hybrid type, allowing for different levels of zoom, or thermal views. The player also has unique types of grenades: one type highlights all the enemies in the area, and another is a drone-like grenade, that will propel towards the closest enemy grouping.


Visually and gameplay-wise, I think Advanced Warfare is a positive step for the franchise. I still have to go back and play Black Ops 2 to see how that last-gen game pushed the boundaries. Story-wise, the game didn’t break much new ground, aside from using a famous Hollywood actor – nothing that hasn’t been done before. I do see that as the future of some games, as mo-cap and 3D rendering gets more and more advanced, and the production quality and story telling visuals become parallel with Hollywood movies. We’ve seen it already now with EPIC Games latest announcements towards their Unreal Engine being used to render Animated Movies.


Overall, a great step forward for the franchise as they truly break ground into the latest gen. The new types of combat add a lot to the series, and the technology of the new engine, and consoles allows for bigger, more detailed level design and creative destruction. The exo-suit allows for some verticality to the levels as well, and while somewhat limited during the campaign, Multiplayer allows for full use. The story is also a little more coherent, although it does jump ahead a few years at a time. I thought Ghost was a step forward, but Advanced Warfare just leaps ahead, and is breath a fresh air to a franchise, that was starting to grow a bit stale.

Now to move ahead again, and try me some Call of Duty Black Ops 3… but I promised I would play 2 first.


The achievements in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare are very standard for the franchise. There are those for completing each level, and those unique achievements for each level. There are those for each new gameplay mechanic, killing a certain number of enemies using said mechanic. And then the Intel collection and Multiplayer types. Nothing really memorable.

Notable Achievements:
Never Saw It Coming (Boost jump, dash forward, and then air stomp an enemy) – 10G
Carma  (Kill and enemy by throwing a door at them) – 10G



What’s another word for amazing, that’s not quite that…? “Expected?


The Amazing Spider-Man game from 2012 was about what I expected; however, there were some pleasant surprises. Spider-Man games in the past have had their qualities and their charm. I guess that’s why they keep getting made, year after year. But how many Spider-Man games can you play before the formula gets old?

A couple years ago Beenox came out with Shattered Dimensions which introduced a new view, incorporating 4 different Spider-Man universes into one game: Amazing Spider-Man, Noir, 2099 and Ultimate Spider-Man.

Bringing with it unique gameplay for each section. They followed it up with a sequel, Edge of Time, keeping the same gameplay, but only keeping the Amazing and 2099 universes. Positive-to-mixed responses…

Scrapping it all, Beenox came out with the movie tie-in: The Amazing Spider-Man. They kept the same design aspects of the previous games for the mission based levels, with a heavier focus on stealth based attacks, but breaking up the story with a full free-roaming, free swinging city, with its own side quests and collection aspects.

The web-swinging is a welcome addition, watching Spider-Man majestically swing through the air, and slingshot himself up buildings, all with the amazing acrobatic animations we’ve seen in previous TV shows, movies and games. The downside is all you need to do is hold one button, and the game does everything for you. You just angle the direction, and the game does the rest. Not that I ever wanted to know what it was like to be Spider-Man, I’ll happily just watch him do his thing…Sigh.

The combat is pretty straight-forward, if not a little spastic. Just mash the “attack” button until prompted for the “dodge” button to avoid attacks. And if you’re running into trouble, just press the “oh shit, get me out of here” button to escape everyone’s attacks and focus entirely. Like all Spider-Man games, the combat and camera movements always seem very chaotic, and a little disorientating at times. Maybe spiders see things differently.

The story continues where the Summer blockbuster left off. With the Lizard in jail, Alistair Smythe takes over Oscorp and starts making robots to help with the cross-species outbreak currently plaguing Manhattan. Everything gets neatly and predictably tied up in the end so as to not ruin the movie sequel’s continuity, the “Peter Parker and Gwen Story” continues and Spider-Man has to enlist the help of Doc Connors, breaking him out of jail, to assist with the outbreak.

Visually the game is standard affair, and just reeks Activision. The city’s transformation through the story is a nice touch, as the outbreak becomes worse. There is a day and night cycle, however it’s not real time, just strictly story based. And some of the boss fight’s action sequences are presented well. The developers took a cue from Rocksteady’s Batman games, and had suit wear-and-tear during the missions for the Spidey suit, but it was mission dependent and does not carry over from section to section. I guess Spidey just needs to continually repair his suit at every intermission, or maybe he has a lot of back-up suits stored as his apartment. However, being a broke super-hero, I highly doubt it.

The game is a step up from the previous two Spider-Man games, but, more limited in scope. A pleasant surprise for a movie tie-in, and I do praise some of the enemy boss choices (Scorpion, Rhino, and Felicia Hardy). That, and the game does have a nice shiny coat of production value, but a tired gameplay formula, repetitive enemy types, QTE Boss Fights, and a disorientating camera shows some cracks in the webbing.

Notable Achievements:

On The Fly (Collect all 700 Spider-Man comic books pages) – 25G
Keep It Together (Immobilize 6 enemies simultaneously with web) – 15G