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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's first review has arrived. From the sound of things, Call of Duty fans may be happy with Sledgehammer Games' first stab at the series.
Videogamer managed to get the first review up not because they worked out some kind of deal with Activision. Instead, they managed to find a store that had broken the street date on the game.
"This week Activision held a review event for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare," the site explained in their review. "VideoGamer.com was not invited to this event. We were told we would receive a copy of the game on Monday, November 3, after the game had been released. Instead we bought the game ourselves and present this review without any form of embargo to adhere to."
I'm not that surprised that Activision would hold reviews until launch day. If asked about the embargo, I'd imagine their explanation would be something to the effect of, "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's multiplayer is a big part of the experience and we want reviewers to experience the game on live servers alongside real players." It's a valid explanation but I think there's also an unsaid truth here: Activision knows that Call of Duty has a significant, built-in audience that's going to buy it even without reviews. The upside to positive reviews was lower than the downside of negative reviews, they calculated.
Still, Videogamer's review suggests that Activision didn't need to worry about critics trashing it. The site enjoyed it a fair amount. They gave high praise to the game's main innovation, the futuristic exoskeletons. These suits, they said, added a new element of strategy to the multiplayer.
"It's a case of risk and reward: do you boost jump to a higher plane for overwatch, knowing that once you get there everyone will know where you are? Do you choose a suit that can make you invisible, or one that can deploy a bulletproof shield or improve movement speed in a crisis?"
Videogamer's review says that the map design really made exoskeletons shine, too. Many maps are expansive enough to give players multiple routes to traverse the route, but still have critical chokepoints that everyone will gravitate toward. With enemies able to attack from multiple directions, players are encouraged to stick together more.
The single-player campaign is usually the weaker half of any Call of Duty game. However, Videogamer actually called Advanced Warfare's campaign the "best purely single-player mode the franchise has seen in years." The 8-hour campaign doesn't soar as high as Call of Duty 4 but sounds like it's worth players' time nonetheless.
"It's a pacey affair, taking in stealth and action-heavy missions but never getting too bogged down in one nation (and there are a few) or altercation. It ensures that AW is an enjoyable ride, even if it's one that rather obviously repeats some of the series' previous beats."
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's early access for pre-order customers begins tomorrow so expect a lot of reviews then. The game will then launch to the general public on November 4th.