It's weird in retrospect to look at the Call of Duty franchise, a series that started as a WWII game on PC, and see what it's become under Activision's umbrella. The yearly title now shares development by three studios, with this year's game being developed by Sledgehammer Games. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the first game since Modern Warfare to truly feel like a step forward instead of simply an iteration or cash grab sequel.
As you peel back the layers of Advanced Warfare's onion you begin to realize that the game is much more than just shooting for the sake of shooting. It creates interesting in fun situations for the player by combining futuristic technology with its narrative. The story puts you in the shoes of Mitchell, an ex-military soldier who has gone mercenary after losing his arm in battle. Through the use of cybernetics you've become part machine in a struggle against terrorists and for hire to the highest bidder. Set in the future Sledgehammer does a great job of creating nifty gadgets and weapons at your disposal.
The most obvious addition is the exoskeleton suit - which further bolsters your capabilities as a human. With three classes of exos, players will be able to jump higher, slam down from above, grapple, cloak, and shield themselves in combat. Think of the exos as a character class and loadout. My personal favorite is the light exoskeleton which grants the ability to not only jump higher with a double jump but change direction mid jump. Launching yourself into battle and strafing out of harms way is exhilarating and makes you feel like a total badass.
Most of the guns in the game are pretty straight forward and don't necessarily feel TOO futuristic - don't worry, there is a laser - it's the gadgets you have that showcase some inventiveness. You have lethal and non-lethal grenades at your disposal which can be cycled between different modes of attack. For instance you can mark enemies with a non-lethal grenade so you can shoot through walls to take them down or cycle it to an EMP blast to deal with pesky drones. The lethal grenades can cycle between heat seeking targets or standard frag like blasts. While not directly controlled there are breaches where you use a "mute" charge that somehow dampens all sound in the area temporarily giving you the leg up when taking down a room full of baddies. Ding Chavez would definitely be jealous.
The campaign here is the strongest it has been in some time, thanks in part to an engaging story filled with famous faces and voice actors. The in engine cutscenes look gorgeous, though at times we approach the uncanny valley with the likes of Mr. Kevin Spacey. Still I can't recall the last time the story was both comprehensive and engaging in a Call of Duty game for me. The missions have a good variety to them as well, with the pacing of the game breaking things up between adrenaline filled fire fights, to careful takedowns in the dark. You'll ride vehicles, climb buildings, control drones, and snipe from a distance. There's a good variety of missions to play and challenges to complete within those missions. Complete the challenges and you'll earn points to upgrade your character in between missions for things like grenade capacity, health and more.
Of course Call of Duty's biggest draw is the game's multiplayer modes. The game continues its tradition laid out by the predecessors with lots of game modes, plenty of maps, and fast paced quick competitive combat. The exoskeleton changes the dynamic of the firefights and the map design, adding more verticality to many of the levels. Players will not only earn experience and unlock weapons, but now can unlock character customization options like glasses, helmets, shirts. Yes, there is now another meta game of things to collect.