The yearly update to the Call Of Duty franchise finally arrived last week, a franchise that has been getting yearly releases since 2007. Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare definitely had more competition to see off this year with the release of Titanfall and Destiny into the mix. I am one of those guys that does not spend every waking hour in online lobbies waiting for the next match to start, in fact I am quite happy with a game if it has a decent enough campaign with the multiplayer coming in a close second. Over the years the Call Of Duty franchise has delivered some flimsy campaigns along with some memorable ones for me, so my first port of call every year is the campaign. This will probably not sit well with the guys who simply buy the game for online play, and sit for days in their darkened bedrooms trying to be the first one to get prestige, while screaming profanities in their adolescent voices at anyone who dares to shoot at them. I could go on with the many things that put me off delving into the multiplayer first, but will refrain and get down to the story.

The story in Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare revolves around a private security firm called Atlas, run by one of the main characters, Jonathan Irons who is played by Hollywood movie star Kevin Spacey. Private security firms have been involved in many wars today and have fought in places such as Iraq, so this storyline is definitely not out of the realms of possibility, with many of the worlds governments using them alongside their own troops. Set into the future in the 2050’s we see all manner of new technology being utilised by the soldiers, and the main one is the Exo Skeleton that enables you to jump, dodge and slide like a superhuman, not to mention the many attachments it can have such as cloaking, built in shield and health boost. You play as Jack Mitchell a soldier that lost his left arm and best friend in a South Korean conflict. Discharged from the marines, Irons gives you another chance to keep the fight going and takes you under his wing, providing you with all the best medical care and a new cyborg arm. As many of these stories go, the world has been attacked and you must now hunt down the man responsible. This puts Atlas in a very unique position as the largest private army on the planet, it soon has control of everything and I am sure you can see the plot twist coming.

Setting aside the story of Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare and digging into the gameplay, you soon find yourself leaping over buses, climbing up the side of buildings with magnetic gloves, grappling from building to building, driving all manner of futuristic machines and enjoying it all the way to the end. I have to say it has been a long time since I felt so exhilarated during a campaign, I found my heart beating faster on a number of occasions throughout the campaign with excitement. This for me was definitely one of the best Call Of Duty campaigns I have ever played, mainly because it put the excitement back into the thrill of the hunt and not just gave players, that don’t like to take themselves online, something to do. The acting from all of the people involved in the story was superb, and Kevin Spacey was definitely the right choice to play the power hungry CEO of Atlas. Graphically the cut scenes were wonderful and extremely detailed, especially on the close up shots of the characters involved. Gameplay was fast and exciting while giving you a true next gen experience in terms of visuals. The story itself may have been somewhat predictable early on into the game, but it did not deflate my sense of involvement.

Once the campaign was finished I proceeded into the minefield that is the multiplayer aspect of the game. Playing any of the Call Of Duty games online is extremely competitive, and you can soon find yourself on the wrong end of a barrage of abuse from someone you can tell shouldn’t even be playing the game in the first place. It has been a while since I enjoyed online play in a Call Of Duty game, because I just got fed up of constantly being shot by brats running around with modded controllers firing six hundred bullets a second from a sniper rifle. Despite my reservations I went online. Setting up a class is handled much the same way it was last year with you picking 13 items, upgrades, abilities, wildcards and kill streaks to add to your character.  Once that is done you can also customise your player card, icon or clan tag and a host of uniform options that have become part and parcel of the franchise. If you have played any Titanfall since its release then you may be used to players jumping all over the map, which gives the maps and environments an added danger of the rooftops. Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare adds that aspect into its multiplayer thanks to the Exo Skeleton worn by your character, but it is not unlimited as the energy soon depletes and you will have to wait and recharge before jumping again. All of the new technology has added to the excitement and fun of playing this title online again and I soon found myself waiting in lobbies for the next match to start.

Watching your team boost sprint, jump and slide, once that timer hits zero and the match starts, gets the blood pumping, in a way that was lost in previous releases of the franchise. Many people over the last week have been complaining about the lag issues and the problems that they have been having online with Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but I have to honestly say I have been playing this on Xbox One extensively and as yet have not experienced any problems like the ones I have just mentioned. Online modes include the usual suspects like Team Deathmatch and Capture The Flag, but you can also play in older modes that will remove the future technology and just have you running and gunning, just like previous releases of the game. This may keep some players happy who may not be comfortable with the fast jumping pace of the new multiplayer. For others who are new to the whole experience, or who want to hone their skills with the new tech before delving into the extensive modes there is a Combat Readiness Program. This will see a mixture of bots and players in a down and dirty deathmatch, with all player names replaced by “friendly” or “enemy” tags, and is a brilliant way to build up your confidence for the slaughter of online play. The Exo Survival mode is a series of random battles, with different enemies and objectives to complete, and is rather dull compared to Extinction or Zombies, but with a Zombie DLC on the way it may liven up the proceedings in this area.

Overall I am impressed with how the new additions to the multiplayer has been handled, with all this new jumping and boosting I thought it would be a Titanfall spin off, but I was wrong. It definitely is Call Of Duty evolving into a more exciting and exhilarating experience. So far I am totally enjoying online play, but this is before Christmas, when many little people will be waking up to what their parents think is ok for them to have, and we will soon be thrown back into the abusive lobbies of old. With high pitch voices shouting profanities at anyone that will listen, while you can hear the parent in the background telling them to turn it down. For now at least, Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a game that has me interested and is continuing to entertain me. It is definitely one of the better releases in the franchise and I find myself excited as to what next year will bring.