It must be challenging for any annualized franchise to keep it's audience enticed with something fresh. The Call of Duty franchise has tried hard to keep us engaged, introducing new characters, stories, features and various tweaks. One thing's for sure, though, the formula hasn't altered much between them. Obviously, Activision doesn't want to tamper with the trusted formula. It's worked so well, ever since Infinity Ward's 2007 debut, Modern Warfare. Not only did they opt for a more modern theme, they introduced the perks system, which has become an integral part of multiplayer ever since.
It's fair to say, though, the recycled formula has gradually led the series into a stale state. Last year's entry, Ghosts, hasn't helped restore the franchise either. There's been a desperate need for something reinvigorating for a long time. Thankfully, new lead developer, "Sledgehammer Games" showcase something fresh, just enough to make the series interesting again. It's probably the biggest leap since the original Modern Warfare. It's not a huge leap by any means, but certainly enough for what the franchise was crying out for.
Exoskeleton suits are what form the change. These super-powered suits allow you to perform a double jump, allowing you to promptly reach rooftops and other high surfaces. It brings a whole new verticality to the series, which can dramatically change your tactics. You could still play the old-fashioned way, but it's a fun and refreshing way of traversing the environment. The maps are all wonderfully crafted too, taking advantage of the new mobility. It may sound rather like Destiny or Titanfall, but Sledgehammer balance the mechanic beautifully. None of it feels too overpowering that it completely dismantles the trusted formula.
Each level equips you with three Exo abilities, all which vary depending on the type of mission. For instance, one mission may be stealth oriented, equipping you with a grapple hook, an Exo Cloak to remain invisible to foes, as well as Exo mute for softening footsteps. Whilst another level could be all guns blazing, giving you Boost Jump, Sonics and Magnetic gloves. Having certain abilities taken away from you can seem a little odd a times, such as not being able to jump. Although, it's obviously forced to tailor each mission, and doing so keeps everything with a fresh taste throughout.
The option to upgrade your Exo suit between levels is a nice addition too. Killing, performing headshots, grenades kills, and retreating Intel, all equals skill points. These can then be spent on various sections of your suit. These range from reducing explosive damage, increasing reload speed, quick aim, and many more.
The campaign's are usually an afterthought when it comes to Call of Duty. Multiplayer is usually the go-to feature, and it will most likely be the same again. Advanced Warfare's campaign, however, should certainly not be overlooked. It may be on the short side, and present a rather clichéd abrupt ending, but it's still worth the ride. Levels still boil down to linier, corridor shooting galleries, meshed with on-rail vehicle sections, and bombastic set pieces. It's everything we've come to expect from single-player. Yet, Sledgehammer managed to present a more fresh and varied experience, making it one of the best campaign offering for a few years.
You take the role of U.S Marine, Jack Mitchell (Troy Baker). The opening sequence throws you straight into battle, opening in Seoul, South Korea. You, along with your squad, must help push back the attackers, during an invasion between North and south Korea. Your best friend, Will, unfortunately dies in battle, and you lose your left arm in the process. As you pay respect at his funeral, your visited by a man named Jonathan Irons, played by Kevin Spacey. He's the president of a private military corporation, called Atlus. He offers you a second chance, giving you the opportunity to join the corporation, along with a prosthetic arm. It's a predictable, futuristic plot, but one that's far more suited and gripping than the past few instalments. Kevin Spacey is the standout, though, boasting some impressive CGI facial animation and strong performances.
Advanced Warfare is far from revolutionary, but kudos to Sledgehammer for revitalizing the stale formula. The Exo-suits bring something fresh to the table, making it one of the most exhilarating Call of Duty's since MW1.