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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Review - Game Boy Advanced

Jim Sterling | 4 Nov 2014 10:13
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Multiplayer at least "gets it" more in terms of utilizing its new tricks, with open maps designed to make the most of a player's tools. Here, there are plenty of rooftops and open windows for players to double-jump onto and through, and while it's still not the fast-paced carnival of boosting and spider-climbing that advertisements may trick you into thinking it is, it's at least far better about giving players versatility and freedom than the campaign is. Plus, it's quite satisfying to double-jump above an opponent and then slam down. Tough to do, but delightful.

Everybody gets a double-jump, in addition to temporary boosts provided by their EXO, such as a burst of extra running speed, enhanced health regeneration, or a deployable shield. While a fun idea, EXO abilities feel almost universally useless. I can see anybody with a cloaking device activated, for example, because their outline is pathetically obvious. Similarly, the health regen makes absolutely no difference in a game where getting shot and dying are almost always concurrent events. These EXO abilities are a prime example of CoD's wider issue - the need to evolve the series, but the unwillingness to create anything meaningful and game-changing. Stuff that exists simply so the game can say, "See? I did something different, almost!"

Without these trinkets, that classic Calladooty blueprint is adhered to without fail. You march into the usual match types, most likely armed with the more standard rifles, SMGs, and shotguns, because they're far more reliable than any of the "advanced" stuff, and you blast away while leveling up to get more perks, weapon attachments, and guns. Scorestreaks provide vaguely sci-fi takes on familiar rewards, with UAVs, gun turrets, and "Warbirds" all in attendance, joined by attack drones and mech suits that turn you into a terrifying walking tank.

One thing I enjoy is the character customization. As well as gender, one can mix and match armor types, adding helmets, gloves, leg-guards, and EXO designs. New costume pieces are provided by Supply Drops, which are awarded to players as they go through the multiplayer. Drops provide random outfit pieces of assorted rarity, and it's kept me more invested than the usual ranking and weapon/perk system has. My worry is that this has been designed for microtransactions later on, a fear emphasized by the "Shop" option right there in the online menu, as well as the fact that some outfit parts (those you obtain via challenges) expire after a limited time. It could all be innocuous, but it's an environment ripe for "monetization."

As a writer, I'm trying to cut down on the amount of lazy descriptive words everybody else uses, but it's really difficult to not describe this all as "solid." It's nothing to write home about, but it's not exactly terrible. It's simply another Call of Duty for another year, tiding over bullet lovers until next November. It's all put together nicely. It works. When you do well you feel pretty good. My heart's just not in it, though. The Warriors games do more to freshen themselves up than the meager edging forward Call of Duty's been doing, and after playing a new one of these every year since 2007, I just can't get excited for this stuff anymore.

Really, that's Advanced Warfare all over. A crawl toward something different when it needs a leap. It's not even making any strides in the presentation department, with all its Hollywood bombast looking both technically and artistically dated. It's familiar CoD visuals, except it occasionally rips off The Matrix.

Call of Duty presided as king over an entire generation. It is now Robert Baratheon, old and tired and surrounded by hungry contenders, having fathered a dozen bastards and now living off the glory of a time when it was young, ambitious, and able to change the world. The sad fact is, the limp half-effort to "advance" the gameplay only highlights how archaic it's become, copying ideas from newer games, but miring those ideas in antiquity.

Still, Kevin Spacey though!

Bottom Line: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare upholds the status quo and aims no higher than that. Its sci-fi trappings are but shallow appeals to progress, and while the multiplayer is still able to provide some entertainment, the CoD formula feels anything but "advanced" these days.

Recommendation: Hold X to pay respects.

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