Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – halfway decent

Every November us cool kids get slapped in the face by the fat hand of Activision. As annual traditions go, Call of Duty has become as much of a staple in gamer’s eyes as other hot hits like Battlefield, Halo and well other generic shooter 63. I jumped into the next-gen with the launch of the Xbox One, and decided to skip COD: Ghosts, because I really couldn’t be bothered with the aggro. It looked shitty and it turns out, it pretty much was. Infinity Ward, a shell of their former selves stooped so low that they reused scenes like for like, from a game out years before. This was once the team that brought us the industry rockin’ Modern Warfare, followed up by the rad sequel  Modern Warfare 2. Key people moved on, and it crushed any sense of spirit in that developer’s offices.

This Call of Duty, called Advanced Warfare has apparently been in development for three years. Sledgehammer Games aren’t new to the series, as they’ve contributed on previous games, but this is their first time running the show. At it’s core it feels very COD, but it also has hints of Titanfall thrown in, thanks to the Exo-Suits. For me, this plays better than Titanfall, but only when the stars align.

Call of Duty’s single player is pretty much always an emotional torrent of fuck the world linear gold, with great set-pieces allowing you to go crazy and feel like Arnold Stallone or Sylvester Schwarzengger. Strap yourself in, with a good headset or surround sound and bask in delicious generic gaming dynamite. It’s mindless, on the rails fun. What sets Call of Duty apart this year? Apart from all the techno-wizardry of the Exo-Suits, well none other than Kevin ‘Big Swinging D**k’ Spacey. His performance in the campaign is something special, but would you expect anything else from Kevin Spacey? He’s not here to spread his theatre acumen, he’s here to goddamn act and with that the game engages you in a way that Call of Duty hasn’t for years.

Those of you that have played shooters will know how important it is that the game rocks dedicated servers. If it doesn’t, it can die on its arse within the first week of play. This leads me to wonder why in this day and age, a mega company like Activision is still making gamers suffer with subpar peer-to-peer connections and shitty lag compensation. My connection is a reasonable 150Mbps. I can ping the other end of this tiny island in 30ms (several hundred miles away), but can I get a decent connection in Call of Duty? Can I bollocks. One in ten matches I’m able to flex my trigger fingers properly. I’m not Robocop or the Terminator when it comes to COD, but I’m certainly not shit. You’d be fooled into thinking I was because of these godamn host choices. Do you have a bonded dial up connection in Guatemala? Chances are you’re hosting some of the worst matches available. There isn’t even an option to play people in your continent. That would at least cut down some of the bullshit.

If this were a review, I’d be scoring the campaign and the multiplayer separately. One would be glowing, and one would not. I’m sure you can guess which is which.

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