E3 2014: First impressions of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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As most of us have learned throughout our lives, first impressions are often make or break. Whether you are interviewing for a new job or sizing up a potential mate, a great first impression matters and the same goes in the world of video games.

Unfortunately for the Call of Duty franchise, the last few years have been pretty rough when it comes down to media criticism. Articles slamming the lack of depth in the storyline, cut and paste cut scenes, and even the mentality of its core online user base being regularly used as a lightning rod are such examples. Honestly going into this meeting with Activision, I had low expectations, and based on conversations I was hearing around me, I was not alone. We were ushered into a private theater room where myself and other select media members were presented a trailer detailing some beautiful upgrades to character models that included some amazingly realistic textures and believable facial expression. Next we were given an extended look into two missions of the game and believe me when I say, the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare first impressions are refreshingly good.

call-of-duty-advanced-warfare-mech-suit-wallpaperJust like the title indicates, yes, Call of Duty is moving forward into a more futuristic style of warfare. Players are now equipped with exo mechanical arm equipment that adds to your character’s strength, allowing for a host of new brutal stealth killing animations as well as the ability to rip a car door off of its hinges to use as a riot shield. Also added to the game is a rocket pack, sort of, that allows for some double jumps much like what was introduced in Titanfall which launched earlier this year.

The first mission we were presented started off with an intense chase scene. We were in pursuit of the baddies in a giant military-grade truck that seemed to be shooting more of an EMP-style blast ball than standard artillery shells. Other advanced weaponry in the game included some villainous drones. I was scared at first from the trailer that the drones would be more of a pain to deal with and become a headache to the game. Amazingly the drones seemed relatively easy to dispatch, although it took some solid aiming skills, and ot felt extremely gratifying just watching them explode and hit the ground.

The next mission we watched was one of those classic two-man stealth, follow and listen to the older guy missions that are always my personal favorites in the Call of Duty franchise. We were introduced to the invisibility cloak and some of the beautiful new stealth kill animations. While weaving in and out of bad guys undetected, we did sneak past a wave of mech-suit equipped dudes that a deep dark part of me was hoping would catch us so we can get a better look at what type of weaponry they have at their disposal, but alas they were not equipped to see past our stealthy guise.

Other awesome advanced weapons were the seemingly new approach to grenades. Instead of having to choose which damage dealing or specialty grenades you would like to lug around with you on a mission, there appears to only be two types of grenades now that between the two of them can do anything. You select whether you would like to throw a primary or secondary grenade and then sift through the options of exactly what you want the grenade to do. Impact grenades eliminate the need to ‘cook’ them like in previous editions of the game, and smart grenades appeared to go go gadget helicopter and maneuver around that pesky cover and destroy your enemies homing style. Other grenade styles that caught my attention were the EMP grenade and one that would mark all of the enemies in its range for you allies to see, even when they have moved behind cover for a select amount of time.

81TjOG4RTuL._SL1500_Clearly this is a whole new direction for the franchise, and it will take more than just giving Call of Duty the ‘Advanced’ title to win back many of the gamers who have grown weary of the series. I think that based on what we saw from this extended preview, and knowing that the game is also utilizing the acting talents of the legendary Kevin Spacey, the developers have heard the outcry of criticism over the Call of Duty campaign feeling like an after thought. The HUD has been scaled way back and in fact all took place within the game world rather than a screen overlay. The player’s bullet and grenade count now take place on the gun. One detail that was spectacular was the sound engineering. Never in a Call of Duty game has the sound effects of the guns, the crunch of the vehicles, and the pop of a grenade been so stark and realistic to me. Granted we were in a theater room, but this was full Hollywood blockbuster quality work.

First impressions are everything. A game can either spark a rabid response of desire, or fall off the map with just one lame trailer. Just when we thought the Call of Duty franchise is on its last leg, Activision and Sledgehammer are not going down without a fight. This is a game that will captivate and polarize the gaming community up until its launch on November 4th. Although for me personally it wasn’t the absolute best or most innovative game at E3, I can say that critically the hard working developers have listened to the criticisms of some of their more recent titles.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare made a very good first impression.

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