Wot I Think – Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare Singleplayer

The Call of Duty games are often best understood not as first-person shooters in the lineage of Half-Life 2 and Halo, but as extensions of light-gun rail shooters. They’re games set in strictly scripted corridors, with one button to pop in and out of cover, one to shoot, and another to reload. That you can move your legs around a bit hardly matters, and taken on these terms, the entries in the series which lean towards boyish action romp are at least lightly entertaining.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare resists even these acts of apologia. If the first Crysis game was made by a team of people asking themselves, “How can we create a videogame which approximates the thrilling freedom and power of being a super-suited soldier?”, Advanced Warfare was made by people asking, “How can we create a Call of Duty game that approximates the thrilling freedom and power of playing Crysis?” Much like the metallic ‘exosuits’ that wrap around its grizzled heroes, this is Call of Duty wearing the artificial shell of a more interesting game.

Those exosuits are introduced early and are the product of Atlas, a near-future private military company run by Jonathan Irons, played by marquee signing Kevin Spacey. When Irons’ son, your best friend, dies and your arm is blown off in the first mission, Atlas offer you a second chance to be a soldier with the promise of a robot arm. You accept, in the first of many thoughtless, stupid decisions your character makes, each one serving to undermine the game’s insistence that you’re the only person who can help in the increasingly unlikely action scenarios.

Not that the story matters much. Having described the set-up, you can now correctly guess every plot beat that follows during the game’s 7 hour running time. The interstitial cutscenes don’t even do much to justify the combat sequences. When one scene ends with a pledge to track down a newly discovered villain, it’s not clear why the next mission begins with you flying a fighter jet for the first time.

At the very least, the story dodges much of the unpleasant jingoism that marks the worst of the previous Call of Duty games. It mostly maintains that romping tone as you hop around the world, visiting futuristic Detroit, Seattle and New Baghdad and other more exotic locations. Spacey, with little of interest to do or say, alternates between the warm dad and malignant smarm he’s been playing in film and television for most of his recent career, while the facial technology that brings his performance to life looks great in cutscenes and, when pasted onto an in-game polygonal body, is like staring into The Abyss.

Each mission gives you a different exosuit to use, and each exosuit has a different set of three or four powers. That means that across missions you’ll be alternately able to double-jump, magnetically climb metallic surfaces, turn invisible, hover, drag yourself or enemies great distances with a grappling hook, and more. It seems on paper like a genuine attempt to mix up the cover-pop-shoot rhythm of Call of Duty movement from the past ten years, and an opportunity to offer players more freedom as to how they approach different challenges.

Of course, it doesn’t work out that way. To start, the abilities available to you are introduced during a briefly visible pre-mission loading video, and then there’s no way mid-mission to check what you’re currently capable of. This will put you in situations where you attempt to double-jump, only to discover you’re not currently able to even scale shin-high rocks.

Even the powers you do have in any given moment can’t actually be used at any given moment. Your ability to scale vertical walls, for example, only works when the script says it does. The game demands you use it three or four times over the course of the campaign, each time either to reach the roof of a building or clamber over a route-blocking wall. This means that your climbing ability amounts to little more than a ladder and door in thematic clothing.

Almost all of the abilities are like this. Want to turn invisible and sneak close or around your enemies? Then you better wait for the defined stealth mission. The ability to vanish adds nothing as you crouch in bushes or hide behind rocks while enemy patrols drive by, in a poor imitation of Modern Warfare’s first stark, exciting Chernobyl mission. Want to detonate a mute charge and go in silently? Only in the breaching scenarios the level designers have laid out for you.

It is as it ever was, of course. Since Modern Warfare and arguably before, Call of Duty has always been about following the beats laid down for you by its creators, but it’s never felt so jarring. Now that you ostensibly have a toolset which should allow you to pick your own routes, to approach scenarios in your own way as you do in so many other games, being unable to do so feels more than ever like having your robot arms tied behind your back.

The game is consequently at its best in the few instances when it does open up, just a little. There are two later missions which offer you an open space and give you the grappling hook, which is able to rapidly pull you between ledges. In the first mission this is used for stealth, giving you a destination at the other side of a large compound home and leaving you free to sneak your own path across it. In the second, you’ve a number of turrets to destroy in a medium-sized section of city streets, and the grappling hook lets you hurl yourself around above the fray and take those turrets down in an order you choose.

These tantalising glimpses of what Advanced Warfare might have been are all too brief. You’re otherwise reliant on the same sort of scripted missions Call of Duty has always had, in which you push forward against waves of enemies or in which you’re given some briefly usable gizmo. The latter includes a low-flying sniper drone in a mission where you have to provide cover for an advancing team of squad mates operating on the ground. That’s fun, though I feel like I’ve done it before. Elsewhere you’ll pilot hoverbikes, speedboats which can plunge underwater, bulkier mech suits, a tank, and the aforementioned fighter jet. None of these feel good to control, and have only destructive power or extreme brevity to commend them.

To continue the trend of damning with faint praise, there is at least no single moment where you are required to defend a landing zone. There is no single moment of dumb controversy. It’s not possible, as it has been before, to walk through entire levels without firing a single shot, while your teammates do the work for you. In fact, if you ignore the constant pressure to keep moving, keep progressing, keep looking forward at all times, you’ll discover that neither your teammates or enemies do much of anything.

I love that when I throw the grenade near the end of this video, the friendly soldier on the left fires at no one. Also, who in this situation would sit in their car and toot their horn over and over?

Your character’s power doesn’t only come via the exosuit and additional goodies, but through the unlock system. By killing and headshotting and completing other certain tasks, each mission will earn you upgrade points which can be spent in between missions to increase your grenade carrying capacity, shorten reload times, and increase health. They’re mostly percentage increases and playing on the normal difficulty, I didn’t notice any upgrade have any substantial impact on how the game felt to play. By the end, I’d unlocked almost all the things I could unlock, and the upgrade points had begun to come slower as I maxed out some of the routes to earning them.

With so many features and changes amounting to so little, the meat of the game remains as good as it ever was. Call of Duty’s machineguns tend to be indistinct – they offer variation in terms of iron sights and optical add-ons but all feel similarly rattly. When you find them dropped by an enemy, there are still absurdly powerful shotguns to use and grenade launchers which come with large reserves of ammo, but mostly you’ll be burst fire tap-tap-tapping for the length of the game.

Clipped of its ability to be considered willfully simplistic, where does that leave Advanced Warfare? Common wisdom suggests the strict linearity of Call of Duty is because it’s aiming for a more mainstream audience, the kind which might find itself overwhelmed by more open games. But if anything, the necessary adherence to a creator’s script makes Advanced Warfare frustrating, as it misleads with cutscenes and mid-mission dialogue that suggests your goal is one thing when progression actually depends on some as-yet untriggered event. Also Grand Theft Auto V seems fairly popular, and that’s not exactly a simple game.

In spite of its attempts to be straightforward, the PC port causes problems in explaining how to play the game, too. On a number of occasions messages flashed up on screen saying things like, “While sprinting press UNBOUND to slide.” Reviewing the controls menu then showed half a dozen buttons not currently assigned, meaning I had to fail a scripted sequence three times while I ran in circles in a corridor, binding and unbinding different commands. When I finally found the correct one – Hold Crouch, it turned out – the prompt still read “press UNBOUND.” Otherwise the game’s only technical crimes for me were sudden framerate drops, though Alec ran the game once and found it messed about with his graphics drivers and caused his soundcard to no longer work.

Perhaps the series’ unwillingness to grow is less to do with target audience and more to do with what’s feasible within budget and time constraints. Call of Duty demands a yearly sacrifice and now has three main studios and umpteen satellite companies responsible for the development task. Simply organising such an endeavor would seem to rely on the project having a limited scope, were it not that other series were already crafting open worlds at the same grim, efficient rate.

Maybe – shock, horror – it’s just that people like this kind of thing. Under certain circumstances, if approached from certain angles, I can enjoy this kind of thing.

But I do not particularly enjoy this particular thing. Witnessing Advanced Warfare in its gamesuit made from chopped-up pieces of better games, it’s easy to picture the series as a Pinocchio aching to be a real boy, but the sympathy you feel in light of its efforts does little to quell your instinct to escape.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is out now. I’ll have some thoughts on the multiplayer portion of the game later this week.

93 Comments

  1. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    I appreciate this WIT, so I just want to make that clear in light of what I’m about to say.

    I know RPS don’t generally care for Call of Duty, which is totally fine, and it’s a huge release no doubt so I understand covering the game, but I would really like to see more WIT’s about the smaller games. There have been many releases where I patiently wait to see the verdict and it never comes (can’t think of them of the top of my head, of course).

    So I just wanted to give a friendly reminder that most of us probably aren’t going to lay down $60 on a new game, but will gladly throw down $15 for a lesser known game if RPS praises it.

    I hope that makes sense and I hope I’m not coming off cocky or anything.

    Cheers!

    • Gap Gen says:

      What might be interesting is to have a list of games RPS Is planning to do a WIT of, if possible (not necessarily a planned timeline, for sure). I guess sometimes people give brief opinions rather than bringing a WIT carved on stone down from a mountain or whatever. But yeah, otherwise, plenty of reviews out there on the internet.

      • battles_atlas says:

        This! So much interesting looking stuff pops up on Steam, and I generally dismiss it whilst I wait for a review to appear on RPS. Your reviewing seems pretty arbitrary though (the ignoring of Wargame being a good example, that even RPS themselves seemed to find odd), and of course you have the stated policy of not rushing out reviews on release day, so adding further to the mystery of what might be cooking in the Hivemind. I wouldn’t be so foolish to demand you offer a WIT for the avalanche of stuff appearing on Steam, but a heads up on planned reviews would at least give us a sense of when to look elsewhere and when to wait.

    • ScottTFrazer says:

      To be fair, though… what if this ended up being the one Call of Duty game that was actually AMAZING and totally worth $60.

      I’m not seeking out Call of Duty reviews on the internet, because it’s just CoD and I just don’t care enough…. but if RPS said: GUISE! GUISE! THIS IS AMAZNG! I’d probably pony up.

      And the rest of the time I just get to laugh and be thankful I didn’t have to play the game :-)

      • Gap Gen says:

        Interesting anecdote: I’ve bought every CoD game that had a demo, and none that did not. And yeah, the linear shooter formula can be pretty neat if done well – hell, the original Call of Duties were as linear has hell and yet was hailed by critics.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        Yeah, I keep thinking that eventually Call of Duty will break the mold and make something better (a fool’s errand, clearly). This had the potential to be more Crysis-like, but I’ve been burned enough by COD to know to wait for some trusted reviews. And I’m glad I did, because this is clearly a ‘skip.’

        • Jason Lefkowitz says:

          I’m not sure anyone would change a formula that results in them having Everest-sized piles of money dumped on their head.

          • malkav11 says:

            It’s a formula that works. It’s rarely smart and pushes no boundaries, but there’s room for games that are just a hell of a good spectacle, and that’s been pretty much every Call of Duty so far. Ghosts included.

          • ResonanceCascade says:

            Activision of all companies should know that complacency can — and eventually will — kill billion dollar gaming franchises. The series will change it up eventually. I can wait.

      • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

        An excellent point, thanks.

    • DanMan says:

      They talk about smaller games all the time. I was actually surprised to see a CoD review this close to release at RPS.

      • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

        They absolutely do. I’m mainly talking about Wot I Thinks. Again, I absolutely appreciate this WIT, because I was hoping against hope it was going to be a great one. Not trying to put them down in anyway, I was just trying suggest that I’d personally like to see more of the lesser-known games get the same treatment.

        • Hasslmaster says:

          I’m agreeing with you so hard, Cosmo. This site drops about 10 indie games previews per day on your head, and after that you never hear of them again. It’s ninety percent previews. In a PC games magazine, previews are the part I skip over. I’d much rather get reviews of games I can buy and play right now, but these are what this site routinely ignores. I’ve been a supporter of RPS for a long time, but I couldn’t take the direction they’re taking any more.

    • ivanfyodor says:

      Yeah, I do love RPS, I’m still here everyday… but I feel like there’s about 10 articles on early access/kickstarter games for every one review of a game that’s actually released now.

      • DrollRemark says:

        But surely that’s because they post far more often now?

  2. Rather Dashing says:

    Hold F to read review

    • Modifier says:

      I’m pressing F, but all I see is prompts to press UNBOUND!

    • Flopper says:

      I’m not a fan of the last few CODs… Prob since MW2. But isn’t it kinda like beating a dead horse doing reviews of Battlefield or Call of Duty single player? That mode is only there because there is a 1% that wants to play it. Both games are strictly multiplayer franchises.

      I was playing BF4 the other day and one of the first missions where you’re driving through the civilian population in a van with all you “operators” civilians in the crosswalk were clipping right through our van like ghosts. They went in to the front seat and straight out through the back. I thought to myself… This is the first 20 minutes of the game… Do they even have a QA team?

      Then I realized. They don’t care. It’s single player. No one will ever see it.

      TL;DR Multiplayer thoughts! I actually think this one looks decent in the MP department compared to the ones over the last few years. I’m prob gonna get it anyway regardless of the WIT but I’d like to hear some complaints.

      • Awesomeclaw says:

        I was also tempted but there are currently a lot of complaints about the multiplayer being laggy and the game generally being somewhat buggy on PC. I might give it a while and see if it improves at all.

      • Distec says:

        There are plenty of people who play COD solely for the campaign, never touching the multiplayer.

        No, I don’t understand it either. But it happens. Activision and the dozen studios that work on this series wouldn’t put all their time and money (AND KEVIN SPACEY) into the campaign if it was all for shit. People who play online certainly give them a good chunk of money throughout their product’s life via map packs and DLC, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the up-front money came from people who want the campaign.

        Battlefield, by comparison, has been an MP game since birth. I’ll agree that the SP portions of those games is quite unnecessary.

        • Flying Penguin says:

          Well I’m one of them…. I’ve given the last two a skip but I played every other modern era CoD single player only.

          I’m not very far through AW, but so far I’m enjoying it. Not because it’s a good game, not because the writing is up there with a Bulgakov novel, but because it’s a very pretty Michael Bay movie that I actually have to do something for instead of sitting trying not to drop my popcorn. It’s my annual break from serious games. Give it a week or two and I’ll be back to C:MANO, Combat Mission, DCS and ARMA III.

          Don’t begrudge me my unwinding time…. ;-)

        • Zero_hu says:

          What? What don’t you understand? It’s a shitty game with awful mechanics, but I can endure it for the six hour it lasts, for the story. I _really_ liked being nuked, for example, what other game does this? And some set pieces along the way were fine too.

          I didn’t really care about Advanced Warfare, but with Kevin Spacey in it, now I’m sure I’ll check it out too.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        I think we’d be surprised about the actual %. Mainstream land is a strange place. A lot of casual players would never touch PvP multiplayer more than on occasion.
        Anecdotal; I know people who never even bothered to set up the network connection for their Xbox 360’s and their kids are just playing split screen or single player.

      • Antistar says:

        Then there are people like me who don’t play multiplayer anything (and especially not competitive multiplayer), because, well… social anxiety disorder will do that to you.

        So there are a bunch of CoD games and CoD clones I’ve only ever touched the singleplayer portion of. That said, I haven’t bothered with any of them for years now because yeah… they’re not very good.

        • Darth Gangrel says:

          I’m also one the people who never play multiplayer, but not because of any issues, I simply don’t care about it. I play games not to compete with others, not to challenge myself, but to enjoy the gameplay (and story/lore, but that’s not so important with FPS games). Give me a world, some tasks and several ways to perform them and I’m happy. I don’t care what other people are doing, I want to play the game when it suits me, how it suits me and don’t want to rely on others to provide the fun. Several games I play are very old (5-10 years old) and were they MP focused, the servers would be quite empty and thus no one to play with, no fun to be had.

          I’ve never played a CoD game and, reading this review, I’ve never been more far from the thought of starting to do so. All the things I like about a game, being able to choose your own path, your own approach to progress through the game are all missing. Ubisoft games are bad at this, restricting your available options/routes, but they probably learned their ways from CoD. Crysis games are better at the exosuit thingy and Serious Sam is my preferred choice if I want spectacular murdering of enemies.

      • malkav11 says:

        I’m pretty sure there’s research that shows that more people play the Call of Duty (and Battlefield) singleplayer than ever touch the multiplayer. I know I’m sure one of them. And let’s be clear here: they are incredibly expensive. I pretty much guarantee that if they didn’t think the singleplayer sold substantial units, it wouldn’t be in there.

        I mean, look at Titanfall. No singleplayer, basically the Call of Duty multiplayer formula but with cool new mechanics, made by the original guys behind Call of Duty. People expected it to at least compete with CoD, maybe even surpass it. Guess what really hasn’t happened?

        • Flopper says:

          Let’s be honest about Titanfall and BF4. At least from a PC standpoint EA is fucking themselves terribly by making Origin mandatory.

          I actually played Titanfall last week for the first time on that play for free for 48 hours thing. I didn’t like it at all compared to the Moden Warfare series. Wall jumpy is cool and all but that smart gun that you aim at someone for 1.2 seconds and get an instant kill… Worst design decision I’ve ever seen in a competitive multiplayer game.

          And you can lock without breaking your own stealth… It’s basically a free kill gun.

          Little shit like that contributed a lot more to that game failing than the lack of single player campaign.

          • malkav11 says:

            The smart gun isn’t anything like a win button, as I handily demonstrated by literally never successfully shooting a human being in my entire time with Titanfall and dying immediately pretty much any time an enemy came into visual range. I dunno. I’m not going to argue with you about the rest of it because that sort of thing is why I pretty much never play competitive multiplayer in anything so I can’t speak knowledgeably about how it compares with CoD multiplayer, only that it has that pedigree and the general buzz about the multiplayer, when there was buzz, seemed to be that it was similar but with traversal and the titans both being cooler than anything CoD’d done. Only it was somehow also as interesting and relatively novice-friendly as TF2 (which I can attest to being utter lies).

            Also, Origin is pretty shitty, granted, but I can’t imagine that alone would mean a game like that would garner around 350k sales on PC, last I heard. You certainly don’t see numbers that low for other Origin exclusives like Mass Effect 3, and BF4 was still over a million despite apparently being technically fucked to an insane degree. (Exact numbers to be taken with a grain of salt since they probably do not count digital sales and those will be the lion’s share on PC.)

      • Premium User Badge

        Qazinsky says:

        Well, I can give you my multiplayer thoughts about Advanced Warfare if you want; don’t buy it. The lag is just as terrible as in Ghosts.

        Honestly, I know that the popular thing is to complain about lack of invention, but I personally would prefer if they invented less and instead polished what’s already there until it is flawless. I live in Sweden, as such, I can find servers in Team Fortress 2 with 5 ping here in Sweden, 20ish in Russia and UK servers, point being, our bandwidth infrastructure is quite good and YET for the last 3-4 CoDs, the only time I get anything CLOSE to a fair and working lagfree experience is IF the game chooses me as host.
        Otherwise, the 40 bullets in my SMG that can kill in 5 hits might not be enough to kill someone I empty into at point blank.

        Edit: TL;DR: The netcode is still terrible.

      • CriticalCore says:

        The BF4 single-player was full of so many glitches and bugs that I didn’t even want to play the multiplayer.
        “If single-player is so shit, how much worse will multiplayer be?”

        Not playing such a horribly unpolished game, Thanks origin refund.
        Best highlight of BF4 was uninstalling it…

        If they are going to bother making single-player, then it better be good otherwise scrap that trash and polish the main part of the game instead.

  3. ScottTFrazer says:

    Seen elsewhere on the internet:

    These Call of Duty games are getting weird:

    link to media.gamerevolution.com

  4. AyeBraine says:

    When I read it, I expected that the Pinocchio simile will go something more like this: “Witnessing Advanced Warfare in its gamesuit made from chopped-up pieces of better games, it’s easy to picture the series as a Pinocchio aching to be a real boy, and therefore wearing the skin and gore of random Italian passers-by, his face wide-eyed and smeared with blood and lymph.”.

  5. Modifier says:

    45% of statistics have shown that if 30% more animals, preferably fluffy dogs, were added to the game it would equate to 70% more enjoyment. Fact. No medal of honor will be given to this one then.

  6. MykulJaxin says:

    My dear mother always told me when I showed her lackluster report cards to apply myself in school because “[You] can’t always get by on good looks and charm.” How does Call of Duty do this? I’d like to be like CoD and fart around all day without improving myself while having tons of money thrown at me.

  7. Michael Fogg says:

    Watched a video of the first level. It ends with a fade-to-black, as a companion drags away the player’s broken body, leaving a trail of blood and that torn-off arm just lying there forgotten. The future USMC must have a poor understanding of battlefield first aid, as, obviously, an essential thing in such a situation would be to collect any disconnected appandages, place them in a plastic bag and put the bag on ice to allow future re-attachment.

    • Buuurr says:

      But how will he then get his new robot arm which he uses to kil… ah… almost spoilered you there, breh.

  8. Csirke says:

    While the AI in the video is quite stupid, I do like the diegetic UI (except for the objective marker, of course). Though from what you say, they could’ve added some icons representing your current exosuit powers for clarity.

  9. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I see from that video the game has that old staple of pseudomilitary stuff, the clock-reference direction system. A book* I once read said that that sort of thing is utterly useless if you don’t indicate your own position at the same time. And yet so many games do it. Go go gadget pointless pedantry!

    *Chickenhawk, which I heartily recommend if you want to know what flying a helicopter in the Vietnam war was like..

    • Retro says:

      *Chickenhawk, which I heartily recommend if you want to know what flying a helicopter in the Vietnam war was like..

      ..and what happens to genuine heroes after they come home.. big recommendation from my side as well!

    • brgillespie says:

      The proper way to call out distance and direction is based upon your unit’s current direction of travel. If that’s not possible, then a general “front, left, right, behind us” works.

      Same with calling a fire mission using the “polar” target location method. You give your position, then compass degrees along with the target distance in meters. Super easy.

  10. Oakreef says:

    The intro of this article seems to be based off the idea that this game isn’t like Half-Life 2 because it’s a series of linear pre-defined set pieces loosely strung together by the narrative. But that’s exactly what Half-Life 2 is. It might be better executed than this game, but that’s still what it is.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      There are some pretty important differences. First of all, the rules of Half-Life 2 are consistent. All of the systems in the game function at all times — none are contextual (except for a small handful of very specific instances, like when Gordon is trapped in the Citadel). The Call of Duty games move you around like you’re their own personal little action figure and quite often tell you exactly what you can do and when, hence all the “press X to Y” jokes. Half-Life 2 is the opposite. You are dropped in the level and can do as you please.

      It’s true that Half-Life doesn’t have the non-linear mazes of Doom or the massive sprawl of Thief, but that doesn’t automatically make its design “like CoD.” The series is, in fact, heavily influenced by the Looking Glass design tradition, even if it scales it down to smaller areas. Also, the feeling of being “funneled” in Half-Life is due to the excellent visual cues as often as it is due to the areas actually being small or linear. Much of HL2 is actually pretty open and there are lots of little diversions and hidden lambda caches if you bother to go off the beaten path. CoD is only a beaten path. There is no place to wander.

      Graham’s observation is dead-on, and it’s why I can’t stand CoD even though I love other equally daft first-person shooters like Halo. Call of Duty is just Rail Shooter+.

      • Distec says:

        I remember in the dev commentary for Episode 2, they talked about one particular point where you were in the buggy and had to make a large jump off a cliff, crashing into a mess of debris and boxes on the other side. They intentionally set up to provide a little bit of “action star” feel for the player.

        The difference between that moment and any COD past Modern Warfare is that you could fuck up the jump and die. It could be a perfect landing or a sloppy one. It was a neat moment that, despite being crafted by Valve, still required the player to actually perform something they could potentially fail (I did a few times). This and the above reasons really do set apart games like HL2 from the mush of many current FPS titles.

        They’re both linear shooters, but their approaches within that framework could not be more different.

        • malkav11 says:

          Yeah, no. You can absolutely fuck up executing stuff and die in all the Call of Duty games. Really easily, in fact.

        • Jeroen D Stout says:

          For my part I always felt the Episodes lacked the real quality of Half Life² specifically for having all these cinematic set pieces. When playing HL2 I feel I am playing with a system I can very clearly see. With the episodes the system is more of a line connecting ‘moments’. Especially the buggy. In HL2 you can credit yourself with some recognition when you realise you are going to make a jump, in the episodes it is a very clearly modelled ramp prop.

        • kdz says:

          Since when is Halo “daft’? It has huge combat arenas, multiple and varied weapons, each with it’s own use, many possible tactics and competent enemy AI. Halo has always been the kind of shooter PC people have been asking for since Modern Wafrare changed most of the genre into corridor-y shootybangs. I could never get people who called Halo “dudebro” or something. It’s a pretty smart game.

  11. DanMan says:

    So it’s Crysis on crutches. Mkay, that’s 60 bucks in the bank. Good review.

    About the AI bit: that’s the problem with increasingly realistic graphics. Your expectations towards the whole world presented to you rise proportionally, making you notice things you used to glance over with more game-y / cartoon-y graphics (“oh that – but it’s just a game, silly”). Same goes for the dead face Spacey.

  12. golem09 says:

    Looks like the uncanny valley is pretty spaceyous.

  13. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    What fascinates me about Call of Duty as a series is how much of the marketing and hype focuses on the single-player, when it looks from the outside like the vast majority of player-hours logged in the game are driven by multiplayer.

    I suppose there’s probably a curve somewhere that measures this — lots of casual players who only try single-player and log comparatively few hours each, ramping up to a smaller core of multiplayer fans who are far outnumbered by the casuals but who individually put in much more playtime than the average. But the two elements always felt like they were pulling the games in different directions.

    I was a fan of the Battlefield approach of “here’s a multiplayer-only game, enjoy,” but even they have started wedging lame single-player campaigns in the last couple of titles. So presumably it’s an approach that people like?

    • DanMan says:

      I’ve always been wondering why they don’t release the SP campaign as DLC and focus on building a good MP game instead.

      I guess you could say that the SP is the tutorial for the MP, but you could just build a sandbox with all weapons at your disposal and have a similar effect.

      That or – crazy, I know – an actual tutorial.

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      I disagree most of the live action stuff is more multiplayer focused which are the main ads

    • Distec says:

      I imagine that someone somewhere deemed it a necessary item on a feature checklist. Call of Duty has one, so obviously Battlefield needs a campaign if it’s going to compete.

    • malkav11 says:

      I really wish they would split the two, because they have almost nothing to do with each other and maybe then the singleplayer would be priced at something close to reasonable for the length (short) and replayability (virtually nil), not to mention have reasonable sales. I really enjoy them, but I am not paying more than $20 for the singleplayer and I have no desire whatsoever to play the multiplayer, which is pretty much antithetical to everything I enjoy in gaming.

    • Zero_hu says:

      You know, a lot of us think that CoD multiplayer sucks. To be honest, singleplayer too, but it’s so short, that it doesn’t really matter. So we play through the campaign on a rainy saturday afternoon, and uninstall that crap right away. Bad game mechanics can be tolerated for a short time, but absolutely not in multiplayer.

  14. TechnicalBen says:

    Would it be wrong to guess that the narrow SP is to give the player a desire to branch out into MP? That’s where all the “map pack” and “season pass” sales are…

  15. Spacewalk says:

    I miss the days when COD was about being a rank and file.

    • Distec says:

      The other day I saw the live-action Advanced Warfare ad where some cool bro was leading the player around and performing all these totallyawesomewickedcool things to some punk soundtrack. Some hot chick randomly appeared out of nowhere as well, of course.

      I was suddenly hit with the weight of the memory that this used to be a semi-serious WW2 series. It’s like – wow, I had totally forgotten, y’know? I could have never predicted this. You can still see the DNA of the very first COD in its current incarnation if you squint hard enough, but… my god, what happened?

      • DanMan says:

        Money happened.

        • brgillespie says:

          More specifically (in my opinion), they exhausted the popular scenes from WW2 movies that had been made.

          Call of Duty was essentially recreating popular WW2 movies of the 90s in videogame form.

      • Antistar says:

        To expand on that, marketing executives said to publishing executives: “money will happen”.

  16. Bull0 says:

    Ah, I think this one was better than you give it credit for. If you were expecting it to become a systems-driven game for some reason, I don’t really know how to help with to that. I enjoyed your video; I played on Veteran, and if I stood around like that with an enemy in view they invariably killed me in a couple of seconds. Game took a while longer than 7 hours, too, but I imagine games taking longer because they’re difficult is artificial when it suits

    *edit* The real CoD:AW story, by the way, is that they promised everyone dedicated servers and the game doesn’t have them, and they’ve gone silent on the issue including during their day zero reddit AMA. The lag is pretty bad because it’s all on P2P, and is detracting from what is otherwise (I’m hearing from most commentators) a pretty fun iteration of the multiplayer.

    • Zero_hu says:

      Bringing back P2P to FPS games was the worst design decision in the last decade. It’s one of the reasons I’ll never touch CoD multiplayer.
      Last “big” FPS that used it was friggin Doom in 1994…

  17. malkav11 says:

    It sounds like a lot of the suit stuff and gadgets that don’t get explored much in singleplayer are present in the multiplayer where (at least according to Jeff Gerstmann), they are a real game changer.

  18. kwyjibo says:

    In the next season of House of Cards, Kevin Spacey is going to be playing Kevin Spacey the game in the most meta product placement ever.

  19. nothke says:

    CompareTo( link to youtube.com )

    Funny cause the setting is so similar =)

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      I made a few maps for Half Life and the AI is really decent if you design the levels well, especially open places with regular cover. In quite a few of the HL2 levels it is less effective because it is mostly bottle-necked and has a bad habit of dripping through doors one by one.

      I remember a map where I had a door unlocking and Combine coming through; they could be countered by just standing still and waiting for them to appear. But when I added a door on a higher ledge with a single combine, the player being distracted allowed all the Combine to enter the room and they became a huge menace.

      Very fickle AI, at times, that.

  20. Serenegoose says:

    We are the Bentusi and welcome you among space-faring cultures. The [Unbound].

  21. HallowedError says:

    That video was painful to watch.

  22. Freud says:

    RPS reviewing Call of Duty games is as close to the myth of Sisyphus you’ll find today.

  23. harvb says:

    Have to say I miss the way the original worked, the original CoD I’m talking about, with its memorable scripted sequences like Stalingrad or Pegasus Bridge. You weren’t even the big hero super soldier, you were mostly just this other grunt helping out, and your mates were fighting and dying around you.

    Also sweets and cans of pop were much cheaper then.

    • Thankmar says:

      The Pegasus bridge is one of my fondest FPS-memories, with that feeling of that increasingly desperate battle and all, even with the music swelling so nicely. That was, objectively, not only in nostalgia, better.

  24. Arithon says:

    When you see a game with a subtitle “press key X because you are too retarded to remember six buttons” I know that (a) it’s not worth my time and (b) it is going to be a worthless console port.
    It’s a philosophy that’s not been wrong yet.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    “Press Shift to toggle hyכnd”?

  26. Aikei says:

    Does the guy on the title screenshot really look like Frank Underwood or is it just me?
    P.S.: Oh well, read the article now, this is actually Kevin Spacey.

  27. Wowbagger says:

    I know several people who buy COD and don’t touch the singleplayer, they’re all about pwning the noobs with quickscope 360 headshots.

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      Tehee, off-topic, but your comment reminded me about the 360 noscope acheivement in Borderlands the Pre-Sequel, 360 is way easier with low gravity!

  28. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    For me, what’s most disapointing is the only decent SP innovations that franchise has seen in recent years – the failable objectives/branching storyling and FPS/RTS Hybrid Strike Force missions both from Black Ops 2 have been completely abandonned.

    Instead we get an inflexible and frankly utterly irrelevant exo suit system and and off-hand grapple, in some missions, as long as the designers felt like allowing you to use it. Welcome back to the 1990s :(

    • funkstar says:

      Those strike force missions in BLOPS2 were horrible. They were basically MP games with dumb bots that you could jump between (in fact they took place on MP maps). Pretty much undid the good that they had done with branching missions etc for me :(

  29. GernauMorat says:

    Can’t argue with this review. The things you point out are correct. However, I’m quite enjoying the extremely dumb single player, simply because the politics of the game don’t offend me in the way that mw2 etc did. In those, I felt that I should be playing as the enemies, while in this one the plot is simply dumb. Faint praise etc, but I reckon its the best one since mw1.

  30. richlamp says:

    I’m curious as to why the RPS review has appeared before many others? Is it simply because it’s a SP only review?

    I think the sad thing about the COD series is that Modern Warfare was genuinely innovative. And since then it’s completely stagnated. And what I saw of Advanced Warfare in previews was simply embarrassing. It’s now playing catch up with it’s competitors (specifically Titanfall and Battlefield). Of course it will still make a ton of money and that’s all that matters. It’s just a shame that something that was innovative is now perfectly willing to sit in the back seat when there’s more than enough money and talent to break new ground once again.

  31. fp581 says:

    i have to say, i did not see any of the problems in my game.
    the ai killed ppl, all the keys where bounded, and you can see what suit you get on the start of the lvl right before you start the lvl you see the suit warming up and then you can see the type you get.

    but i did see in the cut scenes the same ai 2 meters with the same movement, and that is just sloppy as hell.
    the game was way better then the recent ones but it was still mediocre minus. they need to work on their story line and the no. of npc’s

  32. swinedriver says:

    “… each mission will earn you upgrade points which can be spent in between missions to increase your grenade carrying capacity, shorten reload times, and increase health”

    Wait, what. Reload time as upgradable gameplay element — as in, reloading after death, from a save game, etc? Surely not?

    • malkav11 says:

      Reload as in reloading your firearm. Which is a thing that you do to replenish the loaded ammunition. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? ;)

  33. SeditiousSolipsist says:

    I play Johnathan “Fireball” Irons, a feisty PMC owner secretly scrabbling for world domination whilst orchestrating a cross-continent homicide spree. It’s… garbage.

  34. HisDivineOrder says:

    The thing I don’t get is in a game with robotic arms and super suits, they STILL didn’t bother to explain to me how my character has Wolverine’s healing factor. I’m fine with the whole healing if you hide mechanic (I guess), but if you’re going into the future and making up technology, then give these people nanites or super serum or something. Sheesh. Until they fix this, Call of Duty makes war look so much easier than, “Hey, ma, I’m a her–” “Oh. He’s dead now.”