Riley Murdock ‘15 – Ever since the release of Modern Warfare in 2007, gaming publisher Activision’s Call of Duty (COD) series has been a sales juggernaut in the video game industry. Setting sales records with seemingly every new entry, the franchise has become a must-have title nearly every year.
Dedicated fans of the series, eager to get their hands on the next game, often find themselves caught up in a major stream of hype leading up to release day; to satisfy their excitement, gamers will pre-order packages with additional content and memorabilia. Other especially committed gamers camp outside of game stores to ensure they’re among the first to own it.
“I found out about the game the day before it came out,” Paul Hurley ‘16 said. “I pre-ordered it the day before and picked it up at midnight, even though I had the flu.”
Even with a devoted fanbase and critical acclaim, Call of Duty has gotten some flak in recent years for it’s constant release schedule; two developers each work on a different game at separate intervals to ensure a new entry is released every November. Some have criticized this approach of yearly releases as a greedy move by Activision, and some believe the rushed development time has forced a drop in quality compared to previous titles.
“I love COD, but I don’t like the fact that a new one comes out every year,” Josh Bilsky ‘16 said. “I don’t think it gives you enough time to really take in and experience each game.”
With the new generation of gaming consoles requiring more and more development time to achieve the best results, a third studio, Sledgehammer Games, has been added to the development cycle alongside longtime developers Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Advanced Warfare was developed entirely by Sledgehammer, which had previously worked on other titles in the series. This move allows more development time for each entry while keeping the release schedule intact.
“I think Sledgehammer did a great job with the game,” Nick Blankenburg ‘16 said. “The graphics look great, and I really like what they did with the gameplay.”
Advanced Warfare’s launch proves that devoted fans of the series will continue to pick up the new entry every year regardless of the time put into each one, and that the franchise shows no signs of slowing down. Some may criticize the series’ continued adherence to its formula, but it’s a formula that works to everyone’s benefit, fans and developers alike.
Advanced Warfare’s setting is a departure from the rest of the series, following up on futuristic ideas introduced earlier in Black Ops 2 and Ghosts. Set about 50 years in the future, wearable exoskeletal enhancements known as “Exo-Suits” are now widely used by military personnel. These suits allow soldiers to perform feats of incredible strength, in addition to greatly enhancing their mobility and having several built-in abilities. Exo-Suits challenge the traditional COD gameplay, speeding up movement and allowing for new strategies and incredible agility.
The campaign (or “main story” of the game) is entertaining to a fault. Featuring voice work from Kevin Spacey and several others, Advanced Warfare feels like a summer blockbuster that the player happens to be starring in. Players take the role of Private Jack Mitchell (portrayed by Troy Baker), a marine who enlisted to find a greater purpose. Through a series of events, Mitchell is invited to join Atlas, a private military corporation owned by Jonathan Irons (Spacey). Without spoiling any of the overarching details of the plot, the story is fun and engaging, however quite predictable and unoriginal. Call of Duty has never been known for its storytelling, however; most players are here for the action, and Advanced Warfare delivers.
Online multiplayer, often considered the “main event” of each new release, is much more frantic than in previous entries. The addition of Exo-Suits creates constant enjoyable chaos; when players aren’t taking cover, they’re jumping and dashing around the multi-leveled environments looking for or (running from) the enemy. The gameplay manages to feel different from past entries and set itself apart. For a series that’s released 7 games in the last 7 years, that’s always welcome. However, most of the new “exo abilities” (special abilities accessed through the Exo-Suit) feel completely underwhelming. I would’ve like to see Sledgehammer try to stand out by making these new abilities more impactful, but overall Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer experience is a step in the right direction.
Advanced Warfare is another solid entry in the Call of Duty series, one that takes the franchise in a new direction and keeps things fresh, but isn’t without it’s flaws. If you’re a series regular, expect exactly what you want; if you’re not a fan, don’t expect to be converted. All in all, Advanced Warfare is exactly what fans want… except for Zombies.