I like being unbiased. For the most part, I think I do a good job keeping personal affiliations out of my work. With reviews, you have to mix facts with opinions in a cohesive way, without setting an agenda for or against whatever you are reviewing.
I don’t think I’m capable of doing that with Call of Duty games anymore.
I don’t think I’m suffering fatigue of playing every COD game that comes out year after year, it is just that I disagree with so many things that the franchise does every year, creating a sort of hatred and distaste for the series. The heavy implementation of season passes, the annualized mentality, and the C-level story all influence my mind into staying the hell away from Call of Duty reviews for the foreseeable future.
I reviewed Call of Duty: Ghosts last year, and it was one of my favorite reviews I’ve ever written because it was just so fun to write. I ended up giving the title a 5.25, one of the lowest scores I gave to a video game that year. Everyone else who writes for big media outlets gave Ghosts a relatively high score. In particular, I remember reading IGN’s review of COD: Ghosts and being absolutely furious.
You can read/watch the review by using this link:
Scott Lowe, the IGN employee in charge of the review for Ghosts gave it a score of 8.8. What made me personally mad was him saying that the campaign offered human drama. Ghosts was devoid of any memorable or even likable characters in any shape or form. I know that it is just his opinion that the campaign was interesting enough for him, but what strikes me as irredeemable was him stating that it took him ten hours to complete the game.
I’m no speed runner, but I finished the campaign within five hours, half of the time he did. How does this massive difference in time happen? Does he play games at the speed of a slug?
Besides Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified (That atrocity for the Playstation Vita), Ghosts has the lowest Metacritic score for a Call of Duty game. Metacritic isn’t the golden way of judging how good a game is, but it is worth noting. Call of Duty fans and haters alike agree that Ghosts was one of the worst COD games in years. Even IGN employees have stated their overgrown distaste for the game.
What does Mr. Lowe say to his IGN co-workers in his defense? Well nothing anymore, since he is now a Communications Manager for Activision, the publisher of the Call of Duty franchise.
So with Advanced Warfare coming along promising changes to the series, as every Call of Duty game before it has promised, I was immediately beyond skeptical as I inserted the disk into my Playstation 4. I admit, they have changed a lot to the formula, and I do like the changes for the most part. The Exo-suit makes the game faster and you have to think more creatively than you had to in previous COD games.
However, my problem doesn’t necessarily lie within the multiplayer. Whenever something goes slightly wrong at any moment, I think I’m guilty of over criticizing it.
One glitch, one bad line of dialog, one weird moment, and I’m ready to chuck my mind out of the window. I get so animated when playing Call of Duty, and not in a good way. I’ve always half jokingly said that Call of Duty games raises your blood pressure by 12.5% but for me, my stress level is at least double of what it usually is.
The original Modern Warfare and World at War are my two favorite Call of Duty games. Modern Warfare was the first online multiplayer game I ever played almost on a daily basis. It was popular at the time when I was still a sophomore in high school, and everyone was talking about it. I picked up the game for a cheap price, and never turned back. To this day I think Modern Warfare is the best COD game ever made.
The reason why I also love World at War, is because it introduced the even more addicting zombies mode. That was the first game I’ve ever played to ever require absolute coordination between four people online. It was great, and I sometimes still go back to World at War and the first Black Ops for some zombie shenanigans.
Now that zombies mode is behind a paywall, I have no inclination to play it. The season pass is freaking $50, almost equal to the full priced game. I don’t agree with the practice of having overpriced season passes at all, especially with annualized games.
The only downloadable content I buy is for games I really love, such as The Last of Us, or fighting games with long life spans like Ultra Street Fighter 4 and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Street Fighter 4 is six years old and has gotten $20 to $40 updates over the years. Every Call of Duty game has an active lifespan of one year, then another game, incompatible with all of the content you bought last year, comes out for full price.
Yet, people always find a way to complain. “Just release Street Fighter 5 already, Capcom.” Would you prefer Street Fighter be annualized like Call of Duty?
People still buy Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and sports titles every year, and that’s okay, but I can’t get behind that practice. That’s an immediate issue I have with Call of Duty, and annualized games in general.
Besides the expensive nature of COD games, I’m just extra critical on the game because I have a large experience with the franchise. I’ve played every single COD game since Modern Warfare, so I know exactly what has changed and what has not. Modern Warfare, World at War and Black Ops all have memorable characters and moments. I couldn’t name you a character from Ghosts, and the only character I’ll remember from Advanced Warfare is Kevin Spacey… because he is Kevin Spacey.
The only reason I was slightly interested in Advanced Warfare was because of the amazing actor, but his role was nothing special. He played a typical businessman with a plan to change the world “for the better” but his role is actually evil. Other than that, every scene he was in just seemed like the game wanted to say “Look, we have Kevin Spacey in our game… Watch him say stuff and do Kevin Spacey things.” That’s not how you use a guest actor to their full potential, that’s just bragging that you can afford the actor when others can’t.
Advanced Warfare always seemed to be in a rush too. It wasn’t as short as Ghosts was, but it seemed to want the player to be finished with the campaign as quickly as possible. I stopped at a few quieter moments to look around the world, and literally a second after a character you were supposed to be following recognizes that he isn’t being followed he will scream at you to follow him.
Try it for yourself if you have the game. Go to the section where you complete the weapons training. Complete the shooting portion of the training and don’t follow the guy right away. He’ll forcefully command you to follow him to the next area, even if you want to try the challenge again.
Why would you make a game if you don’t want people to look around to see what you created and enjoy it to the fullest? Are you worried if they look around long enough they’ll find a major flaw?
I am not even going to look at this franchise anymore. I’m taking a long hiatus from Call of Duty games. Taking everything into consideration, I don’t think I would be capable of stopping myself from nitpicking every minor flaw. So I won’t be reviewing Call of Duty Advanced Warfare like I planned to. I just don’t think I can be as fair to the game as I would usually be with every other game out there.