The high-tech future of Call of Duty has arrived, and it's looking pretty bright. Marking a return to form after last year's disappointing Call of Duty: Ghosts, Sledgehammer Games' Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (available now for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and PC) is earning big praise for its kinetic player mobility, explosive campaign and addictive multiplayer modes. Here's what the critics - us included - are saying about the highly-anticipated shooter.
Our own Alex Cranz rated Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare a 3.5 out of 5, speaking highly of the game's addictive multiplayer and refined gameplay but criticizing the game's sometimes silly story. Cranz found the game's customization options robust, and gave props to the game's defined near-future setting.
"[Double-jumping] makes your character more agile than ever before, and it's the kind of game-changing mechanic that will leave future CoD games lacking if it's left out."
"While I'm stuck playing as Bland Hero the Third in single-player mode, in multiplayer, I can happily choose from five different women and then outfit them like blood-thirsty Barbies."
"The plot feels less like the first part of a planned trilogy and more like something the developer, Sledgehammer Games, just copied and pasted from past CoD games."
"There's something disturbingly off about the digital Kevin Spacey; his silicone-like skin and dead eyes make him look more like an android than a human being."
Polygon's Arthur Gies awarded Advanced Warfare a 9 out of 10, claiming that the shooter takes just enough design risks to move the franchise forward. He notes that while the story is a bit predictable, the new mechanics made possible by the player's Exo suit switch things up significantly.
"Speaking strictly from level and encounter design and mission variety, Advanced Warfare is the best campaign the series has seen since Infinity Ward re-imagined the franchise with Modern Warfare in 2007"
"There's less safety, less predictability, and it combines with some of the best map design the series has seen."
"Much has been made of House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey's turn as Jonathan Irons, the CEO of a paramilitary-oriented corporation named Atlas, but his performance tends toward over-the-top."
Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb gave Advanced Warfare 4 stars out of 5, commending the title's refreshed gameplay, detailed graphics and engaging campaign. Gerstmann was particularly impressed with the game's heightened sense of movement, claiming that it "makes every other game in the franchise feel obsolete by comparison."
"It probably doesn't sound like much, but being able to get around the map more quickly and change your elevation with ease actually makes a huge difference."
"The game benefits a lot from Spacey's performance, which looks extremely realistic in cutscenes and only slightly less realistic in-game."
"The campaign is another six-hour romp through a war-torn world. It's straightforward as ever, which is a little disappointing considering the series did better with player choice and branching in the campaign back in Black Ops II."
While IGN is waiting to spend more time in multiplayer before delivering a final verdict on Advanced Warfare, reviewer Brian Albert's review-in-progress of the game is largely positive. Like his peers, Albert speaks highly of the game's Exo suit mechanics, weapon variety and creative multiplayer.
"The Exo suit is the kind of change I was looking for in Call of Duty multiplayer. It’s intuitive, fun, and it affects everything you do."
"Pores, hair, and creases in skin are all rendered in great detail, to the point where I knew, just by seeing how a character’s face displayed shock and horror, that bad news was coming."
"The biggest hindrance to Advanced Warfare’s story is the way it fails to establish its characters’ human relationships."
"The one design decision seemingly made in the name of variety that I felt harmed my enjoyment of Advanced Warfare is that we don’t get access to the full range of Exo movement abilities in every campaign level."
Gamespot's Miguel Concepcion gave Advanced Warfare an 8 out of 10, speaking highly of the game's rich mulitplayer, impressive introduction sequence and high-tech gear. Like other reviewers, though, Concepcion felt that the title's inconsistent storytelling holds the campaign back a bit.
"Sledgehammer Games crafted an opening that does everything a great first chapter is meant to do: it welcomes you with big-budget bravado, offers control tips without excessive hand-holding, and establishes the tone of the campaign."
"Sledgehammer should also be commended for designing original multiplayer maps without borrowing heavily from the single-player locales. "
"I was left hoping that this Call of Duty had a point to its uncharacteristically cartoon-like dramatics, but it instead leaves you with an unsatisfying conclusion driven by a tonally inconsistent script."
"The campaign is an entertaining ride as a whole, but being able to progress through most of it with a classic Call of Duty approach is wholly unfortunate, as it contradicts the expectations set by the futuristic motifs of the initial chapter."
In his 4-star review, Ludwig Kietzmann gave Advanced Warfare big props for embracing Call of Duty's over-the-top nature to the fullest in the name of fun. One of his few gripes was in the campaign, as Kietzmann wished for more opportunities to use the game's many cool gadgets in every mission.
"Whether it's in the rich and varied multiplayer mode, or the frantic, thrill-a-minute single-player campaign, you're constantly relying on cool weapons and combat data to make taking lives easier."
"The futuristic EXO suit that encases your soldier in strong metal limbs and a boosting backpack lets you juke, bounce and dash aggressively through the air like a rocket-powered bayonet. It feels truly three-dimensional and liberating – and punchier than Titanfall, if you care to compare."
"It's a shame these [new] mechanisms come across as guest stars, because their use feels so fitting with Advanced Warfare's unabashed science fiction shooting gallery."
Mike Andronico is an Associate Editor at Tom's Guide. He could really go for a game of Team Deathmatch right now. Follow Mike @MikeAndronico and on Google+. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+