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Game Info:

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Developed By: Sledgehammer Games
Published By: Activision
Released: November 4, 2014
Available On: Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One (Reviewed on Windows PC)
Genre: First-person shooter
ESRB Rating: Mature 17+, Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
Number of Players: Single player campaign with online multiplayer available
Price:$59.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

I must admit I am not a fan of military shooters. The genre itself just never appealed to me. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, however, was different. From the first time I saw the trailer at E3 I was intrigued. This was a new studio trying their hand at Call of Duty and they brought in Kevin Spacey to help bolster the campaign. I liked the idea of believable near-future combat and new innovative weapons so I was all in on this one. Did Advanced Warfare break the mold? Did it make me appreciate military shooters?

I want to start off by saying that this game looks incredible...when it wants to. The character models of main characters and combatants look amazing, the weapons all look crisp and realistic and the set pieces are extremely detailed. This is a gorgeous looking game. Several times I had squad-mates yelling at me in the middle of a mission to hurry up because I was wandering around looking at textures and doodads. I did find a few exceptions though. Non-important background NPCs look noticeably worse than those involved in combat. The environments look so inviting, I wish there was more exploration in the game so I could enjoy the surroundings more.

Advanced Warfare plays how you would expect a Call of Duty game to play. The controls are tight, the framerate never dips below 60, and the combat is fast paced. I asked a friend who is a franchise veteran about the gameplay and he said that it was "classic Call of Duty." That's great for longtime fans of the series, but I bought this one because of the new features. I have to say that the new movement system is fantastic. Being able to double jump, dodge, and change direction mid-air adds much needed depth to the combat. My biggest complaint from my limited previous experience was that as soon as an enemy saw me I was dead. Now if someone gets the jump on me it's at least possible to dodge out of the way and fight back. The ability to move through the air also adds a dimension of verticality to the game. The multiplayer maps are noticeably designed with these abilities in mind, however I would have liked to see even more use of the vertical space. Those who have played Titanfall will see immediate similarities to that game, however there is less parkour and no wall running. 

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Highlights:

Strong Points: Solid FPS gameplay, interesting movement options, variety of vehicles
Weak Points: The story, mission load times
Moral Warnings: Brutal violence, blood and gore, alcohol references, strong language

I was told that Call of Duty single-player campaigns take about 5 hours to complete and are extremely predictable. Considering this was my first time through one of these campaigns it took me about 8 hours to complete, but the latter part was correct. The story offers no surprises, yet doesn't make many missteps either. It's serviceable and works to carry the player from mission to mission. I was extremely excited for Kevin Spacey's character; however he turns out to be fairly bland. Spacey's delivery is even suspect on a few lines of dialogue. The other characters are likable, although fairly banal themselves. The only part of the story I felt was poorly done was the infamous funeral scene early in the game.

Although the story is merely adequate the missions themselves are diverse and fun. There is a lot more variety in gameplay than I expected. It feels like every other mission there's a new vehicle to pilot. There's a hoverbike, mech suit, speed boat, fighter jet, tank, drones and more. The mouse and keyboard controls for these vehicles range from great to burdensome. The mech suit, tank and drone controlled well, but the hoverbike, fighter jet and speed boat were somewhat clunky. Besides the vehicles the exosuit has additional abilities such as wall climbing, limited invisibility, and a grappling hook. While many of these abilities are used strictly out of combat in specific areas they do help break up the shooting. I heard some rumors about increased weapon variety in this game. While there are unique enhancements available, outside of the laser none of the guns really stood out to me. I experienced long loading times between missions. After completing one, a cutscene plays while the next mission loads. This seems like a good idea, but sometimes there's a stutter in the cutscenes. Then once the cutscene finishes there's an additional minute or two of loading.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 86%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 58%
Violence - 0/10
Language - 3/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6/10

What about the real reason people buy this game? I've spent about 8 hours in the multiplayer and I've enjoyed my time. Like I said earlier the combat is fast paced and the dodging helps extend firefights, but players will still die in a couple of hits. The multiplayer is where the new movement shines the most. It provides opportunities for some really creative combat tricks. Jumping up above an attacker and air stomping them is extremely satisfying. Jousting with enemies mid-air is a lot of fun as well. Many players seem stuck in their old ways and barely use the new movement features. That is a poor strategy though because as I said earlier there is more verticality to the maps. There's a good variety of game types, however on PC a lot of the non-deathmatch modes are sparsely populated. 

For all of the new bells and whistles added to Advanced Warfare it is still very much a Call of Duty game. This game is about war and is extremely violent and gruesome. There is a bloody screen effect during combat and ample gore on display. There's a short torture scene in one of the later missions. There is a paintball mode in the settings that get's rid of the blood and turns all of the bullets into paintballs, however this mode is only available for multiplayer. There are some questionable moral choices made by the protagonists. Strong language flows throughout the in-game dialogue and could also appear in multiplayer. Although my online experience was mild there could be vulgar people on the other side of the screen. These games tend to attract immature players with microphones. Thankfully muting people isn't too difficult. 

Overall I was very pleasantly surprised with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Sledgehammer Games did an excellent job of injecting new life into a stagnant franchise. I loved all the movement and exosuit abilities. I'm enjoying playing and unlocking enhancements in multiplayer. I'm glad I played through the campaign but have no desire to go back and get all the collectables. I would recommend this game to anyone who generally enjoys first-person shooters, especially those who have been avoiding Call of Duty. I would not recommend this game to anyone who strongly dislikes FPS games. Despite the many wonderful distractions, most of the game is still about shooting. It wasn't strong enough to make me a fan of military shooters, but I'm certainly more open to them now.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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