A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a gritty military first-person shooter. Players spend virtually all their time in combat firing a variety of realistic weapons at human enemies who scream, bleed, collapse to the ground, and die when shot. Cinematic sequences depict atrocities ranging from villains shooting allies to the physical torture and execution of bound prisoners. One particularly disturbing level shows dead prisoners' bodies hanging from the ceiling in vacuum-sealed plastic bags. Strong language ("f--k," "s--t") is used by soldiers throughout, and open voice communication means players may be exposed to inappropriate language and discussions while playing with strangers online.
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What's it about?
CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE is set about 40 years in the future, in a world where a private American military contractor called Atlas has become as powerful as the government's military. Employed to help quell obvious good-vs.-evil conflicts in foreign lands including South Korea and Nigeria, the fight eventually becomes grayer as the battlegrounds move closer to home. Players take on the role of Mitchell, a marine dismissed from service after suffering a serious injury in combat. Atlas provides Mitchell with a new home, using advanced technology to return him to fighting condition. As part of Atlas' growing army, Mitchell is equipped with futuristic equipment, including a highly advanced exoskeleton that allows him to leap great distances, cloak himself, grapple up walls, and smash through metal doors. Beyond the campaign, players can engage in a variety of multiplayer modes. Competitive play is similar to previous Call of Duty games, allowing players to customize and upgrade their soldiers as they earn experience. Cooperative play pits teams of up to four players against increasingly challenging waves of enemies, forcing them to work as a team to survive for as long as possible.
Is it any good?
Sledgehammer Games' first kick at the Call of Duty can -- the first game in Activision's prolific military shooter franchise to be developed by a new studio in eight years -- is significantly different from other entries in the series. The introduction of an advanced exoskeleton suit dramatically alters the way players make their way through environments, adding a new degree of mobility and verticality. And with special abilities such as cloaking and threat grenades that paint targets behind cover, plus some slightly sci-fi weapons such as a powerful directed energy rifle, the action is distinctively futuristic. The differences are particularly evident in multiplayer mode, where exo-abilities such as boost jumps and hovering in mid-air force players to be more aware than ever of threats from above. It's a refreshing and fun change of pace for the franchise -- though it's clearly geared for players looking for faster-paced, arcade-like action than simulated warfare.
The one area in which Advanced Warfare fails to innovate is cooperative play. Whereas developers Infinity Ward and Treyarch have pushed the boundaries of what we expect from Call of Duty cooperative modes with their alien- and zombie-themed variants, Sledgehammer's traditional wave-based mode feels pretty safe by comparison. Still, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is well-polished and even a bit daring at times. It clearly stands apart from other games in the series and should prove good fun for adult gamers looking for a spot of futuristic military action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in games. Gritty military shooters strive to depict combat as it actually is and may have an impact that's more visceral than movies due to the interactivity. How do you feel during and after playing military shooters?
Discuss the role of the military. When should our soldiers go to war? Who has the power to send them to war? What are some of the goals of war?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Activision
- Release date: November 4, 2014
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: January 31, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.