At the beginning of this month, after eagerly waiting all of five months since the last title’s release, Activision revealed the latest offering in the Call of Duty franchise: Advanced Warfare. Despite my obvious bias, here’s a few reasons why it’s nothing to look forward to.
1. Lacking In Originality
The two and a half minute video plays out much the same way as all the CoD trailers for the past few years have gone: cue dramatic music, ambient noise, helicopters over the ocean, and evil villain making vague statements about the nature of warfare. Throw in a few explosions, a couple neat futuristic gadgets, and a Titanfall-esque mech suit, and you’re got a recipe for your standard Call of Duty fare.
Despite putting Kevin Spacy and Troy Baker in the lead roles, two actors simply cannot hold up an abysmal script. We’ve seen it before, with Beyond Two Souls. Ellen Page and Willam Dafoe were almost completely useless in bringing any sort of emotional attachment to the characters, harkened by David Cage’s inability to write a coherent script. And to think, Beyond was game focused almost entirely on story. It’s not difficult to expect Spacy and Baker will have a hard time supporting a title whose bread and butter is guns and explosions.
That’s not to say there’s never been a Call of Duty with an effective narrative, though Treyarch was probably the last to achieve that with Black Ops. Generally, the Modern Warfare titles are held to a much lower standard. Even the game that shot the franchise straight over the moon, CoD 4, was a success not because of its story, but because of its revolutionary mechanics.
Advanced Warfare, however, doesn’t seem to advance much outside of the time it takes place in (which I’ll talk about later). The overall story, seems to be centred around the United States’ general inability to establish democracy in other countries, and Kevin Spacey’s ultra-billionare solution the problem: blowing things up. The whole idea seems a little generalized, but it’s criticism of US foreign policy in a video game, so I’ll take it. What I won’t take is yet another rehash of the “corporations will someday rule the world” bit.
As an aside – and it has to be said – the name itself is stupidly hilarious. Advanced Warfare? From the people who brought you Modern Warfare. The two are practically synonyms!
2. Developed by a Company With Little Experience
Amid the issues surrounding Modern Warfare developer, Infinity Ward, and concerns over the two-year development time (obviously) having an effect on the final product, Activision finally brought on another developer, Sledgehammer Games, to lift the pressure off both teams. While this might be considered a good thing, the company doesn’t exactly have a lot of experience, the only title they’ve ever worked on being an assisting role in Modern Warfare 3, a title that failed to innovate in quite a lot of ways.
Though I don’t doubt the team is filled with highly capable and experienced people, a company still needs time to learn how to work as a whole. A recent example is Halo 4 developer, 343 Industries. Though filled with great people, the company failed to deliver in the eyes of many players. For some, their attempts to “CoD-ify” the game hurt the player’s investment in multiplayer, and the poor file share and forge hampered the ability of the Halo community to… be a community.
3. Proves an Ongoing Trend in the Franchise
Though we obviously know little about the game, it looks posed to fall into the same traps that its immediate predecessor, Ghosts, did: a lackluster single-player, and a general lack of innovation or orignality.
I know there’s a sentiment that “originality pales in comparison to execution”, but that’s simply not the case for the Call of Duty franchise. The success of each subsequent title has been almost always based on the growing popularity of the franchise, and the gimmicks on which this juggernaut is founded. It wasn’t so much a concern with the earlier titles – the second World War is generally set in stone – but the later games, with their own imagined wars and histories, take a few too many liberties.
Each new “modern” title seems to draw players in by jumping into the future a few years, adding new features and gizmos. Gimmicks, essentially. We’ve had grappling, RC cars, fancy dog friends. And now finally exo-suits and spider-man gloves: the same rehashing of gameplay, supplemented with neat little features which do little for the overall series.
All this makes me wonder what the next few titles intend to do, and how many years it’ll be before we see space travel and honest-to-god aliens.