Broadly speaking, first-person shooter experiences come in two distinct flavours; pseudo-realistic, ‘man on the ground’ stories of triumph over adversity, and super soldier omnipotence fantasies. Call of Duty has up, until now, stuck steadfastly to the former, but Advanced Warfare’s take on mid 21st century conflict blurs the lines between the two somewhat.
Aesthetically, it’s very much a Hideo Kojima-style vision of near-future conflict, awash with angular walking tanks, smart grenades and other ‘just on the right side of believable’ technology, that’s as fun to play with as its clinical, death-dealing precision is terrifying.
Your standard-issue Exo suit’s abilities, which are selectable in multiplayer but vary by mission throughout the campaign, allow for such superhuman feats as cloaking, temporary speed boosts and double jumping. As a consequence, you no longer feel like quite such a clichéd blunt instrument, even if the narrative is as unsubtle in its endorsement of neoconservative and American exceptionalist agendas as ever.
The game’s multiplayer suite is the most feature rich yet; it even has its own loot system whereby weapons with subtlety altered stats and cosmetic items can be procured from supply crates. Also, it’s difficult to pin down why, but the learning curve seems a little shallower this time around, although taking the time to learn every nook and cranny of the 12 (or 13, with certain editions of the game) maps on offer is still a prerequisite for consistent performance.
Advanced Warfare is undoubtedly a better game than last year’s lackluster Ghosts, but it remains to be seen if the top tiers of the series’ fanbase will take this new setting to their bosom in quite the same way they did Modern Warfare and Black Ops.