By – David Queener

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare PC Review He

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare needs little introduction bearing the face of Kevin Spacey with numerous years and titles behind it. It does however deserve a note as being the first title led by Sledgehammer Games, and is arguably the first Call of Duty to undergo more than two years of development prior to release. Quite a feat considering Sledgehammer did not act alone, as they were assisted by Raven, Nerve, HighMoon, and Beach Head Studios. With that large a cast of developing characters, expectations could reasonably be set high, but there is always the subject of cook count relative to the kitchen.

Advanced Warfare takes place in the late 2050s and early 2060s, the primary conceit being Private Military Corporations (PMCs) and the growing role of technology in warfare. The story is told from the perspective of an American marine, who loses a friend and gains an honorable discharge, only to join a PMC owned by Jeremy Irons (Kevin Spacey). The plot is thin, but it does serve as a sufficient catalyst for the typical Call of Duty set pieces and changes of environment to justify a rotation of abilities, tools, and toys. The gameplay is highly linear and scripted, with a noteworthy exception of a rather open ended stealth mission where you grappling hook around and above a garden party at night, executing guards with your hook in a manner very akin to Scorpion of Mortal Kombat.

Unfortunately that degree of free agency is anomalous as you continually pursue anyone labeled Follow. Thankfully they do make good use of such a rigid structure with lots of big events, from massive bombardments and high speed chases, to falling into the heart of Antarctica itself. Every mission has some big moment for you to look forward to, however the path there can be a bit plodding with seemingly filler alleyways and standard gun fights. Along the way you will be completing challenges (Kills, Headshots, Grenade Kills, Intel Collected) which will award points to upgrade your Exo Suit with features such as flinch and recoil reduction, increased health, additional grenades, and faster reloading. On the easier difficulties this matters little, but it does enable a slightly more strategic function for Hardened and Veteran, something the franchise as a whole has lacked in since its inception.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare PC Review Th

Advanced Warfare has lots of ideas fresh to Call of Duty which don’t interfere with the core mechanics, but you will forget about those when the story has annoying hamstringing moments, or idiotic character decisions. In one scene, dozens of drones burst forth and attach themselves to the supports of a bridge. Realizing that they are going to self-detonate and collapse the bridge, characters shout to shoot them, and NPCs open fire. This is great, but why was my character, or his partner who was in perfectly fine form, standing motionless when the drones first appeared in a tight cluster? I had killed several swarms of drones larger than that with single EMP grenades before, I had EMP grenades selected with five available. Both of us were perfectly equipped to wipe out the villain’s terrible plan right then and there, but the script would have nothing of it.

The villain’s plan is terrible as well, a known entity with a recognizable face, a very visible headquarters, and he publicly declares war on the world, and specifically the United States. I will give credit to Sledgehammer for making the first Call of Duty since the WW2 era where America wasn’t painted as blundering incompetents, but they still managed to reduce an interesting character into a meaningless foil, while forcing the protagonists into terrible decision making.

Now I know this isn’t Sledgehammer’s first rodeo, but that isn’t to say they lasted a full eight seconds on this bull either. Advanced Warfare is sloppy. Ghosts as a whole dragged and seemed to move through mud, but Advanced Warfare prefers random hitching for no apparent reason. It doesn’t struggle to get its pants on in the morning, it struggles to reach the bed eight hours prior. I am not running a Recommended machine, but I am above the Minimum requirements, yet the game saw fit to set my resolution to less than half my native display, and disable everything possible, with the rest set to Low.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare PC Review Th

It still ran like mud, but it also looked it. I don’t mean to imply that the game takes steps downward in visual quality, say resembling Modern Warfare in detail level if you go too far below the higher end. No, it turns into glossy mud. It looks good maxed out, or it looks like abstract art. For a machine that had no issues running Black Ops 2, this is pretty jarring. I can find a happy medium with careful tweaking, but changing anything in video options required a level reload, making the process very painful. I understand when I touch texture or world quality, sure, but not ambient occlusion, motion blur, or depth of field.

The poor performance is not unique to myself or machines of a similar caliber; anything less than seemingly godly rigs have hiccups and issues. Some have claimed precaching of shaders to resolve it at the cost of stuttering cinematics, but I had no such luck and my cinematics still stuttered. Not only did they stutter, when the levels hit 50% loaded, they stopped making progress until the cinematic finished and then resumed loading. Other Call of Duty titles never did this for me, so I’m not sure what makes Advanced Warfare so special. In good news, it quits very quickly when you exit, sometimes because of a crash (a pure virtual function call, usually).

That is a lot of technical issues to put up with, but the game itself is lacking in polish in very weird ways. The sounds are great (really, quite nice) but almost all of the scripted melee encounters are silent. Guys will get slammed into surfaces, damaging the environment, and nothing can be heard from it. Soldiers will spar in an arena, but only a few of the punches have impact sounds. Characters have fluid facial expressions, except for a few times where they stare blankly and their mouths open and close in a strictly vertical motion. Clumps of NPCs can be seen doing this, and sometimes the NPCs don’t even rotate the models used, so you come across clusters of twins.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare PC Review Th

The levels are nice set pieces, but lack polish regarding world collision: lots of little things you can get caught on, things you can step forward through, but not when backpedaling or items your character will autostep on to, and then need to crouch to get off of.  The game has a ″Leaving the combat area″ message to allow the visual of more open areas while constraining your movement, but it isn’t a consistent distance across the maps and if you are Intel hunting, you find yourself often bumping into that invisible marker. It also seems to change, I stumbled into one in a mission right as friendly NPCs headed off into their next script, resulting in me suddenly being ″deep″ inside of the trigger area. This resulted in an automatic failure and a restart at a checkpoint.

Advanced Warfare isn’t riddled with bugs, but there are definite dips in quality that smelled of a cramped schedule, inconsistent expectations, outsourced work, or all of the above. The vehicle sections offer some great moments of cool power, combined with a bizarre mishmash of key bindings and prompts, as not all of them define your controls, and none of them have a unified scheme. One segment suggests you can do an action by pressing ″Unbound″. Thankfully the input needed is obvious (as it concerns stomping from the air) and the default of C works just fine. Some defaults are bizarre however.

You will receive suggestions to press keys such as M and N, in the middle of a large firefight. In the middle of a large firefight, would I rather temporarily lose my ability to look, aim, and fire or my ability to walk around? Whoever chose the layouts never considered a keyboard. On a similar note, whoever played the finale on PC was already familiar with the button prompts and when they occurred. I’m sure the color and shape coded button prompts on consoles rendered just fine on top of the scene bathed in yellow light from the fire, but the unchangeable yellow text callouts on PC are a little hard to spot. I died several times in this sequence because I didn’t see that prompts had appeared.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare PC Review Th

Is It Worth Your Money?

No. And it should be. It really should be. Sledgehammer has a lot of great elements and ideas, but they couldn’t fully deliver.  And then when it seemed like they could, they got nervous and countered themselves. Advanced Warfare is the second fumble in a row for Call of Duty, and this time, it came at the cost of something that could have been quite great. Save your money for another time.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Technical Summary:

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare PC Review Th

  • Time Played – 9 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1680×1050
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • FOV Slider – No
  • 5.1 Audio Support – Yes
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Several performance issues, a few crashes
  • Control Scheme – Mouse and Keyboard
  • DRM – Steamworks
  • System Specs – FX 8120 Eight-Core 2.81ghz, 12GB RAM, Radeon 6850
  • Game Acquisition Method – Purchased By Reviewer
  • Availability – Steam
  • Demo – No
468 ad
  • publicENEMY

    FOV slider? you must be joking. This is single player review right? FOV slider is absent in single player. What a joke. Also, maximum settings are really for GODLY pc that is currently non existent. try the default settings and see how it fares.

    • David Queener

      This review was sliced out of a larger review targeting the whole product, unfortunately a few adjustments were not made in time for publishing. Correct, the FOV slider is only in multiplayer. The Technical Summary was written for the full review, rather than a segment.

      My point regarding performance was that adjusting the visual quality didn’t see much in the way of changes. I ultimately settled on somewhere between medium and high level settings, as it was only a few frames lower than everything on low. The game’s auto-detect was ridiculous in choosing half the native resolution with nothing enabled, and what was more ridiculous is how poorly it ran in that scenario – and that it ran about equivalent at double the res, most features enabled, and everything set to High.

    • AdamAmes

      I broke up the review into two pieces, one for MP and the other SP. Together, the review would have been over 3,000 words. I felt that was just too long. For our Technical Summary section, I just thought the FOV slider would have been available for SP and not MP due to how developers see that as an unfair advantage. I did not attempt to confirm the FOV with David. I assumed, and in this case, I made a mistake.

      I hope you can see this was simply an honest oversight. I have corrected the error.

      • publicENEMY

        Thank AdamAmes and David Queener. The problem with anything Activision is that it is hard to trust. Im very sceptical to review, comments or anything if its related to Activision. Pardon my harsh comments. I was under the impression you guys are ‘hired’ by Activision. You are not right?

        • AdamAmes

          I can understand your concern. It is extremely hard to trust outlets in the gaming world today. We have no affiliation/sponsorships/partnerships with any developer. I am the sole owner and Editor-In-Chief of TPG. I run the site with my own time and money. I have never taken any sort of payoff from a developer for a positive review. I would suggest looking through several of our past reviews. They will give you a good idea of how I run the site and how our team handles the games they review.

          In most cases, we request review copies directly from developers or the PR groups that represent them. Money is never a part of this process. For this review, David paid for the game out of his own pocket. I usually do not allow my guys to review games they personally purchased, but I made an exception in this case because we were low on content.

          The only time money changes hands is when a developer pays for ad space. In these scenarios, we do not review the game at all or we hold back the review for a few weeks after the ad campaign is completed.

          The background ad you see now was from several months ago. However, sometimes I will put up old campaigns to keep the site from looking stagnant.

          I hope that clears up some things and answers your question. Feel free to ask anything else

  • trincetto

    Well written and interesting review!
    It’s always sad to see these big companies with huge budgets and many talented people making the same old games with a new coat of paint, instead of trying something different. Even with the added gadgets, every Call of Duty campaign ends being the same linear experience, moving from one scripted event to another.
    I really miss intelligent level design in first person shooters that you could find in games like Doom, Quake or Jedi Knight — but there isn’t anything similar in today’s market, as far as I know.

    • David Queener

      Yeah, level design, and thus player choice, is the real casualty of the past 15-18 years of FPS development. The only exception in CoD is Black Ops 2, where they have branching paths for the story conclusions, the ability to choose your loadout (including perks) for the mission, and son. But even with all of that, it still has nothing on a horse-shoe design with 2-3 side areas, some secrets, and an interesting bestiary. (The FPS genre is awash with Men With Guns, and Undead Men With Claws – give me Shamblers and Mancubi!)