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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Review

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Activision’s behemoth first-person-shooter, Call of Duty – has taken a huge leap forward marking another change of direction for the title since Ghost’s launched with the Xbox One last year. In what started as a World War II game fast evolved in a Modern Warfare, which then led to a Black Ops operation and a covert Ghost’s mission. Now four changes later and perhaps a more natural progression from Modern Warfare is Sledgehammer Games first solo entry into the franchise with Advanced Warfare. Despite talks of a potential Modern Warfare 4, in the very early stages of Sledgehammer Games direction, Glen Schofield, (general manager and co-founder of Sledgehammer Games) confirmed to thisisxbox at Eurogamer ’14 that a more future technology driven adventure was always on the cards and the way forward following their joint effort with Infinity Ward on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. We previously had hands-on multiplayer sessions with Advanced Warfare at both Gamescom and Eurogamer this year and rate the title as the best Call of Duty in years!

It’s been no secret that thisisxbox rated the previous two Call of Duty titles in the franchise less favourable than we had hoped for, but Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare brings the franchise to life again with an action packed story driven adventure true to the Call of Duty roots with over the top plot lines and building crashes a plenty. It’s certainly no walk in the park and leaves enough surprises to raise a few eyebrows all in glorious next-gen visual quality. By that we mean a million miles apart from what Infinity Ward deemed next-gen with Ghosts, because Advanced Warfare looks and plays as you would expect a true next-gen title to gleam and shine from start to finish. All before we even get to the improved Multiplayer a little later on!

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The best I can say about Advanced Warfare in terms of the campaign mode is that it really follows in the tradition of the Call of Duty greats; Modern Warfare 4 had following tanks and Ghillies in the Mist, Black Ops had all the psychological mind games and following the tank – and you guessed it, Advanced Warfare also has following a tank, shooting enemies in oncoming vehicles and a whole load of past campaign traits in a new futuristic skin. I’m not really implying that the game is a copy and paste job of all the best bits from years of Call of Duty, because it is an entirely new story centered on a whole new form of military never before experienced in any Call of Duty title. The direction of the game is more corporate setting and a war with money and power at the forefront, but everything a hardcore Call of Duty player from its very early days would definitely appreciate the return of an action, all guns blazing, storm the streets game as with Advanced Warfare where the fate of the world is on your shoulders. The first Call of Duty title to feature a main characters journey from start to end, the campaign is nothing less than epic!

Combined with both the campaign and multiplayer element is the exo-skeleton abilities; a mechanical outer body skeleton suit that delivers a host of benefits to its users. From cloaking, double-jumping, shielding, to powering up, speed running and more, the exo-skeleton is another massive leap for Call of Duty in that it now brings the game right up to date with popular uses that feature in other games. Albeit in a different form, but double jumping, cloaking and shields have long been in many past-gen titles like Halo, and already a familiar trait with Titanfall on all platforms. It’s a real positive enhancement and aids with gameplay to bring Call of Duty once more at the forefront of first-person-shooting by evolving with the gaming trends.

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Multiplayer must now be the single most important aspect of Call of Duty having (what is assumed) the largest first person shooting  fan base in the world with over 125 Million players across the globe! That is an almighty number of people to please, and Sledgehammer Games have done a grand job at delivering a spectacular Multiplayer to match the campaign. With thirteen multiplayer maps available before DLC packs start dropping down in 2015, the theme is very futuristic with Bio Labs, high rise parks, drone facilities, prisons and the roof tops of Greece all just some of the highly detailed maps to shake your guns at! Familiar Call of Duty playground territory is still rife with Free-for-All, Team Deathmatch, Search & Destroy, Domination and Kill Confirmed as some of the popular modes from past titles make their return. New modes such as Uplink and Momentum are modernised favourites of Capture the Flag, and the old WAR mode respectively. In Uplink the aim is to carry a centralised Satellite Drone to your own teams Uplink (think basketball) and in Momentum, if you can remember WAR from Call of Duty 3, and World at War – it’s now been revived for Advanced Warfare. Momentum is a fast paced game of Capture the Flag with enemy killing sprees gaining momentum points that result in faster flag captures! If you’re not all that familiar with the game type it could easily be compared to Domination, but only one flag at a time can be captured.

Whilst it has been more than ten years since Call of Duty gamer’s battled it out online with the original Xbox console, the game needs no introduction in how to play online as the world over must be aware by now of running around a map with a weapon of choice and gaining the most kills or points. The basis of Advanced Warfare multiplayer is exactly the same as Call of Duty from its early days, but the customisation choices that can be made is welcomed step into the future. Create a Class from Black Ops (remember the Pick 10?) is back with a Pick 13 options from Primary Weapons, Secondary Weapons, their Attachments, Three Perks, Wild Cards, Score Streaks and Exo Abilities. As the Exo Skeleton Suit makes its entry into Call of Duty, so does a varied range of abilities that can be applied to your online multiplayer experience such as Shields, Cloaking, Health Stimulation, Hovering and Speed Boosting which might already be familiar from the campaign gameplay. The Exo Launcher improvements are modernised grenades and feature Frag, Stun, Semtex, EMP, Smoke and dangerously deceptive drones!

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As Sledgehammer Games first original Call of Duty title, it is a complete world away from our first Call of Duty next-gen outing in Call of Duty: Ghosts in the absolute most positive way imaginable with true next-gen visuals. The whole Multiplayer experience of Advanced Warfare is every bit an enhancement, or so it feels like from Modern Warfare 3 and the game is likely to appeal more to the fans who appreciated the thrills and action of Modern Warfare games in comparison to the more suspenseful Black Ops titles.

Here’s to the future for Advanced Warfare and let’s hope a sequel doesn’t tarnish the brilliance now set in stone.

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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MP Hands-On #XboxGamescom

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With an Xbox gamer tag known as “Jason of Duty” – it might come as no surprise that I am a huge fan of the Call of Duty franchise right from its very early World War II days; despite being disappointed with the past two games, (Ghosts, Infinity ward – Black Ops II, Treyarch) I am pinning all my hopes on Sledgehammer Games delivering a fresh new take with their own original title this year. Based upon everything I witnessed during Gamescom 2014 in Cologne, I am excited to say that I am very impressed with Advanced Warfare! If you didn’t know already it is the first Call of Duty to use a totally brand new (as in brand new, not IW’s updated crap) engine since Call of Duty 2 and looks every bit a true next-gen title as you should expect!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare had an extended campaign premiere during the Xbox Gamescom ’14 briefing which showcased vivid scenes of the Golden Gate Bridge being blown apart with intense thrills that appeared to replicate the over-the-top action packed drama experienced from past Modern Warfare games in the franchise. Although this is Advanced Warfare – it appears that everything learnt from Sledgehammer’s co-development in Modern Warfare 3 on last-gen consoles could have made the transition into their own game as I sat there during the conference in awe. With my jaw dropped I knew upon first impressions that this was a Call of Duty that could make gaming history and I was hooked into every minute of the chases and fire-fighting gameplay on screen as the bridge was rapidly being destroyed. The game looks set to make you feel the drama of the character with a journey of hope, comradeship and defeating all the odds for what is your ultimate test of survival.

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Although a hands-on single player chapter was not playable at Gamescom 2014, we was able to get some decent gaming time with the Advanced Warfare Multiplayer on Xbox One consoles as we played a competitive Team Deathmatch mode swiftly followed by a Capture-the-Flag inspired game of Uplink on a map named Defender. Before I talk about Uplink itself, Team Deathmatch is exactly what you would expect – two teams fighting out for the highest score on a map, so no change there. Uplink, on the other hand has been built with competitive teamwork in mind, because it is about collecting a single Drone and escorting it to the Uplink. It seems to be a combination of Capture the Flag and Demolition from previous Call of Duty titles as one team member must collect the drone from the half-way point in the map as the rest of your team defend you on your way to the Uplink to drop it off. The player with the Drone is identified on the map with either Kill or Defend marked upon them (depending what team you’re on) and the Uplink is at either far end of the map. It’s quite a fun and fast gameplay mode, but with the new Exoskeleton suit, playing multiplayer has now completely changed within Call of Duty and for the better! You can literally be killed by anyone in any direction – it’s the biggest and most needed change in the history of Call of Duty.

With the Exoskeleton suit new strategies have to be thought through since enemies can climb buildings, jump higher, acquire tactical playing abilities such as shields, and it all seems to distance the age-old tradition of sitting in corners with Sniper Rifles – finally “Camping” might have been wiped out in Advanced Warfare! This new feature for Call of Duty has been seen in other games before; (before everyone starts chanting Titanfall clone) keep in mind that development for Advanced Warfare and Titanfall was around the same time period – and both have copied elements from Bungie’s developed Halo games! It is hard not to think of Halo: Reach when anything jetpack styled and futuristic soldier suits are concerned, but the underlying core of the gameplay is still a familiar Call of Duty territory albeit a new futuristic step in time.

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The map, Defender whilst playing Uplink was of a medium size and is best described as an abandoned bunker featuring open gameplay for close-quarters fighting. The Golden Gate Bridge is clearly seen in the distance and the whole atmosphere of the map is giving the impression of a washed out bunker destroyed completely by water as you battle within the remains of it both internally and externally as you choose. The map played for Team Deathmatch was BioLab and is part of a snowy futuristic enemy base of a medium size. It features verticality for fast paced close quarters fighting with areas that only your Exoskeleton suit could take you with a range of internal and external buildings for scouting out enemies and surprising them around lots of corners. This is a very typical Call of Duty map that requires you to go all out guns blazing and played out just great for Team Deathmatch. Graphically both maps looked very detailed and gameplay was extremely responsive and fluid.

In terms of customisation, this too has undergone somewhat of a radical change, but once more for the better only because Sledgehammer Games appeared to have thought about the gamer and not over-complicated the whole selection processes as both IW and Treyarch are known for in their most recent titles. This year we do not have endless screens and button presses to confirm add-ons, but the return the Pick 10 system from Black Ops II is now a Pick 13 instead allowing the selection of a combination of up to 13 items from weapons, their attachments, perks and wildcard rules to suit your preferred gaming style. Whatever the fuck Infinity Ward did with it in Call of Duty: Ghosts thankfully is not present, Pick 10 worked well for everyone and it’s such a great feeling of relief to see it returned in a more enhanced way forward. You can additionally customise your player’s suit from the gloves, helmet, and full body sets as well as completely spruce up your weapons. It really is all about you now in multiplayer as you get to style yourself, your arsenal of weapons and take reign on the battlefield as you see fit.

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With just a taster of what to expect when the full Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare game launches on November 4th 2014, it has given new light at the end of the tunnel to reassure us that the Call of Duty we know and love is about to be resurrected again. Both Black Ops II and Ghosts never really lived up to expectations and whilst one had an over-complicated campaign that never lived up to its predecessor and the other a dire experience with a dog – I’m confident that Advanced Warfare will bring it back home this year for the Call of Duty fans who are yearning for the action, drama and intense on-the-edge-of-your-seat sequences of events that make you feel like you accomplished something major upon level completion.

We should have a full review up nearer to release, but for now enjoy the latest Multiplayer trailer below:

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare DLC – Out First on Xbox

Keeping in with the tradition of all downloadable content releasing first on the Xbox platform, Microsoft has confirmed via the Xbox Wire that new content for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will be available first on Xbox.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was recently announced from Sledgehammer Games and jolts players forward in a groundbreaking experience that’s ripped-from-the-headlines-of-tomorrow, envisioning a future where both technology and tactics have evolved to usher in a new era of combat for the franchise. Set in the year 2054, a private military corporation (PMC) has emerged with the power to rescue humanity from a devastated world struggling to rebuild after a global attack on its military and infrastructure. You are the advanced soldier. Empowered with new, cutting-edge exoskeleton abilities, technological advancements and high-tech gear, players join the ranks of a highly-trained, specialized unit committed to restoring order in a state of advanced warfare.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is being developed specifically for next gen consoles and PC. This is the first iteration of publisher Activision’s expanded three-year development cycle allowing the debut lead title from Sledgehammer Games an added year of studio development. With the expanded production capabilities, Sledgehammer Games is able to create an astonishing new, next generation experience, featuring an array of technical advancements from the sights and sounds that create a near photorealistic world unlike any Call of Duty before, to new performance capture and facial animation technologies that deliver lifelike characters, to a rich and immersive story that brings the fiction to life.

Starting today, fans can begin pre-ordering their copy of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare at retail outlets worldwide. The title is scheduled for release on November 4