Advanced warfare mini reviewy thing (PC) Watch

Jammy Duel
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#1
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Well, another year, another CoD, so I feel almost obliged to throw £40 away on something I will barely play, and I would say it's better than I initially expected.

Straight off, I'm going to start with a MASSIVE gripe: no settings menu on the main menu, I had to go into the game to change any settings, and that was after a cutscene (which I didn't try to skip) and then, even off a SSD, a good 30 seconds waiting for the level to load due to the default settings, but it isn't exactly a bad thing. Preloading of shaders has returned from Blops 1, except by default (on my system at least) it won't do this during the cutscene.

Speaking of cutscenes, the graphics aren't that bad during them, although in the game itself they still aren't exactly stunning, although, yet again, appear to be an improvement over the last iteration. Even when maxed out, my system manages to eat the game for breakfast, unsurprisingly, but it would also appear to be better optimised than Ghosts was. Additionally, during cutscenes the audio and video seem to be out of sync, audio a second or two ahead.

Sledgehammer have decided to do away with leaning in it's entirety, but the default keybinds feel as if they've looked at previous CoD games in my library to determine them. Weapon changing is defaulted to the scroll wheel, something the older CoDs did not do, and I imagine most people would change it to, melee defauts to e and special grenades to q (which happen to be what I would be using through choice), apart from that the binds are pretty standard, still using the annoying "c" for crouch and "ctrl" for prone by default rather than ctrl for both, with holding being prone, and by default right click is toggle ADS.

As I expected, the exosuits don't seem to be as big a deal as they were made out to be. There are two different types, both with their own specialisation. One, in essence, increases your battlefield mobility, allowing double jumps, hovers and slowing of falls (not that you need them particularly often), and a sonic ability "for crowd control", although thus far I have never come across a need to use it. The other kit is much more combat oriented, with the likes of a controllable drone and a shield, along with a time slow ability which I really ought to use more often.

Like all other recent CoDs, thus far there is no real difficulty to it, just the odd BS death and one or two slightly harder segments. The new grenade system is nice, although there are a few ways it could be improved a little. Both the primary and secondary grenades each have 3 modes. For the primary it's "frag" (speaks for itself), "smart" (hovers for a moment then flies towards a target) and "collision" (which I'm not totally sure about). For the secondary, it's "Flash", "EMP" (which both speak for themselves) and "target", which highlights local targets for a limited time. By default, they're set to target and smart. To cycle through them you hold the button for the type you want to use, then the button for the other to cycle. It would be nice, at least on PC given how many keys there are free, to have some system where you can easily change them, for example setting them to num pad 1-6 (not that that's very practical) so you can preset them; then again, it probably isn't worth the time to put it in because of the travel time needed to use it, although while regening health or between battles it could be reasonably used, the more limiting factor would probably be the inability of a controller to do it. The other gripe I have about grenades is that you aren't told until half way through the second level how to use them properly, and the training exercise, to me, demonstrated just how awkward the controls are. Given the button layout on consoles I imagine this won't be quite as bad with a controller.

The HUD has been updated, instead of it all being sat in the bottom right corner it's rather nicely put on the gun. Behind the sights is the loaded ammo count, below that the unloaded ammo count and down the side of the weapon your grenades and exo abilities to the right of the sight, all hud but loaded ammo is removed when ADS.

The length of the game, for CoD, actually seems really good. There are a total of 45 intel items (which are audio, which I think is a slight step down from Ghosts) spread across 17 levels total (although I have currently only done the first 3), and so far they seem to be, on veteran at least, in the 20-30 minute range, and due to the relatively low difficulty I reckon it would be a bit of a challenge to pull them below 10 even on recruit (I reckon the second level would be hard to pull far under 20) which suggests it's got decent length for a series that tends to neglect the Single Player experience. It's too early to say how good/promising it seems, but it's done a good job of setting itself up so far.

One thing I did notice on the firing range is that now you actually have to lead moving targets. Given that it's CoD I started off aiming straight at the targets with minimal success when they started moving, however I have a feeling that this will be removed for future iterations, I wouldn't be surprised if loads of people complain about having to think a little bit while playing, although there doesn't appear to be any drop.

The campaign also has an upgrade system. By performing certain activities a certain number of times (kills, headshot kills, grenade kills, intel items) you gain the points, there are 22 upgrades in total, 11 things and 2 tiers, the first costing 1 and the second costing 1, and the 11 things are split as such:
Faster reload (25%, 50%)
Faster ADS (25%, 50%) (requires reload)
Extra lethal
Extra tactical (requires lethal)
Extra spirting (+50%, 100% distance)
Less recoil (10%, 20%)
less kickback when hit (40%, 80%)
Explosive resistance (10% 50%) (not 100% certain on the first figure, 25 would fit the trend but I recall it being 10)
Extra health (10% 25%) (requires Resistance)
Detection ("activate grenade detection, not a clue for tier 2) (requires resistance) (not a clue what it does)
Battery (1 extra Exo Ability, 2 extra)

As far as resource usage goes, when loading stuff it hits 35% CPU usage (on a pretty beefy CPU, 6 core (HT) 3.4GHz) but is only 10-15% mostly in game, occasionally straying up towards 20. RAM is ~3GB when loading, 4GB in game, VRAM, not a clue atm, so the recommended hardware seemed pretty accurate. As for other notes: nice to have a British protagonist again (although not primary protagonist); achievements a little bit broken on steam. I also think that Total Buscuit's port report nicely rounds up that, for PC, this is in many respects unlike any CoD before, although the annoying frame cap in MP is slightly annoying I imagine for those with higher refresh monitors. Having run the last little bit today (although I could have comfortably done it last night) with my power monitor up on my second screen, it really is not that demanding. Most of the time my GPU was running with power just from the PCIe lane, and occasionally needed a bit of extra juice, but not a lot. Comparing it to "idle" ( which admittedly is still running a few things so has much higher RAM usage and not that much less CPU) it only needed an extra 60-80W and total draw was rarely above 200W, so in theory the GPU could have offered A LOT more, so I guess I need to play around with 8x super sampling and see if it will actually utilise that extra power (although I wouldn't be surprised if there were VRAM difficulties in that. So, all in all, the recommended settings seem, for once, actually quite reasonable.

I also ran into a slight problem where the graphics settings got a bit messed up and I needed to revert to defaults (which is thankfully maxed for all but 1 thing anyway for me, something that I don't have on anyway) to fix it. Apart from that, the frames now don't seem insanely stable, part of the reverting to default included turning Vsync off, so I could see the frame rate all over the place, mostly holding stable above 60, often getting on for 100. However, there were several spikes (which will obviously turn up in the videos) down to single digit, and it doesn't infrequently drop to the 40s and 50s.

Thus far, I have not been online, nor have I tried the co-op portion of the game, so I shall amend this as appropriate, a long with a more in depth, spoiler free as much as possible, campaign analysis when I finish it (later today).
I will also be uploading, a few levels a day, a veteran walkthrough, hopefully with 60fps working, although part 1 seems to be stuck with the annoying not actually processing thing (And while typing that it jumped to 95% ). Generally taking longer to do it all than I would have liked due to assorted technical difficulties. Will have probably finished the game by mid afternoon (intend to go to bed soon), but likely won't have everything rendered and scheduled until tomorrow evening. Will add a link to the playlist when everything starts working. And now global block. Not sure if coz Activision don't want free advertising, or coz of the music (being edited out by remove a song beta), hopefully the latter.
Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...QoWucw_gnW7e94 I don't think the first video will work though
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The Assassin
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#2
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Great review OP. I thank you for even being so considerate to write this at 3:00
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Jammy Duel
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#3
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(Original post by The Assassin)
Great review OP. I thank you for even being so considerate to write this at 3:00
Ta, was waiting on an upload, render and watching something anyway
Really hating not being able to use GPU to accelerate rendering, used to at least real time renders and now I'm sat on a third, although rendering at 60 instead of 30 fps may have something to do with that too.
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AstroNandos
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It's out? Didn't realise
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Jammy Duel
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(Original post by AstroNandos)
It's out? Didn't realise
It's out tomorrow, today for pre-orders (although it was a rather last minute pre-order).
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Jammy Duel
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Ok, now I've completed the campaign I guess it's time to write my overview, staring with a spoiler free segment.

Ok, it wasn't quite as long as it seemed it would be to start with, based on the first few levels we were looking at something that could be getting on for 10 hours on veteran, what it actually took me (including a few deaths per level) was about 7, which is still pretty good for CoD, I'll update how long it took if it were flawless when I finish all my renders. What does has to be considred, is that that 7 hours includes almost an hour of cutscenes and loading screens, as for me at least it wasn't possible to skip the cutscenes due to the settings I'm running, and they tend to be ~2 minutes (the into to "Collapse" being nearly 3 with the level it's self less than 3 times that), then up to 30 seconds loading shaders and bits tagged on to the beginning and end of each clip to be edited off and the likes, so actual play time, 5-6 hours. The missions started long, but by the middle of the game they were about half the length.

Additionally, there were parts where large portions of the level were straight up scripted, one level in particular was nearly half scripted, although the other half I found rather fun and made up for it, it was also quite an important part of the game plot wise, and then later there was a large scripted section. Another general comment is that while most other CoDs have one or two steal missions, this one has a bit more than that. There isn't a single straight stealth mission (sorry if you count that as a spoiler), but there are quite a few with large stealth segments. Personally, I quite like stealth missions, but I feel it was slightly over done.

As far as general game play goes, I would say that it was pretty diverse, especially for a linear shooter. Largely it's down to the exo-suits adding an extra dimension to the combat but also the variety of vehicles used (none of which could exceed 71mph bar one), it isn't just run here, shoot them, run there, shoot them. The plot, while highly predictable and not the best isn't the worst either. The other major gripe is that it really doesn't feel like the mid 21st century, most of the tech is no more advanced than we have today, the arts team also seemed pretty lazy in that a lot of the vehicles and weapons look almost identical to things we have today (that are either being removed from active service soon, or already have). I think it's now time for the spoilery bit, which I shall break down into spoiler commentary, mainly critiques of the plot (which naturally come with most games), which is largely down to me being pedantic, and if necessary a plot synopsis, although if you really want one there are probably 1001 online so I probably won't bother. Note, the spoilers aren't in a linear fashion, they're in the order they spring to mind.

Spoiler:
Show

My immediate criticism is how, inevitably, cliche things are. You have your typical impossible enemy, typically the US wins, typically it's against all odds, typically it's a few men vs an army. You have that oh so cliche man dying part way through with all the other major protagonists gathered around him as he dies from bleeding out, followed by words to the effect of "Three of us versus and army; that's suicide" "It's what he would have done".

There is the totally predictable "Spacey is the bad guy" bit, and you can tell it's made by Americans. Spacey has the largest and by far most advanced standing army in the world, the Americans in the game are still all cocky acting as if there is no hope that he could ever beat them even when they're being annihilated. Some plot elements seem totally broken, part of Spacey's plan is to block the US 3rd fleet in SF Bay by collapsing the Golden Gate bridge, how does the Us plan to prevent this: sail the fleet under the bridge. Excuse me, but would the more sensible thing be, if you can't stop it collapsing, to leave the fleet in the bay and then move it afterwards instead of the inevitable "bridge lands on carrier to then be overwhelmed by ATLAS"?

The ending to the last mission doesn't feel great either, taking out a rocket, you make it to the exhaust outlets just as the engines fire, so you get hailed by incredibly hot exhaust, the suits you're in appear to have no issue what so ever resisting the heat and keeping it cool inside, the engines then keep firing for maybe getting on for 30 seconds and they still haven't released the rocket.

I think that's the end for now
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samir12
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
Straight off, I'm going to start with a MASSIVE gripe: no settings menu on the main menu,
There is, they just made it hard to spot, if you look at the bottom right hand corner you should see settings. Otherwise just press "space" to bring up the settings menu.
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Jammy Duel
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(Original post by samir12)
There is, they just made it hard to spot, if you look at the bottom right hand corner you should see settings. Otherwise just press "space" to bring up the settings menu.
I noticed last night. Personally, given it wasn't really part of the menus I'm going to leave that bit in. The settings menu itself is very good but they couldn't even properly add it to the main menu? !

Posted from TSR Mobile
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mikeyd85
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As I don't play CoD for it's single player story (though I have enjoyed some of the challenge maps), I'm waiting for your opinion on the MP. :yep:

Looks pretty samey to the last CoD plus a little extra taken from Titanfall, just without the utter chaos that Titanfall has.
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Jammy Duel
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(Original post by mikeyd85)
As I don't play CoD for it's single player story (though I have enjoyed some of the challenge maps), I'm waiting for your opinion on the MP. :yep:

Looks pretty samey to the last CoD plus a little extra taken from Titanfall, just without the utter chaos that Titanfall has.
I plan to dive into MP shortly, and either come back in half an hour and decree "as bad as Ghosts", or come back in a few hours and write a few hundred words on it.
And I'll be doing it with precision X to get some idea about GPU usage since it looks so interesting based on power drawn.

Liking it thus far. Forgot precision x doesn't gice OSD for 64 bit
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Jammy Duel
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Having played online for just shy of an hour, I thin k it's time for my first set of thoughts, a couple of which are PC exclusive, but mostly about the gameplay itself.

Overview/menus
First off, with only a couple of exceptions, I was using the BAL .27 Auto the whole time as it's one of the starting ARs and I rather liked it in campaign, and the whole time I was playing Ground War. But first things first, a bit of a general overview. As soon as I fired up MP I could see that I was probably going to like it more than Ghosts MP. One of the biggest criticisms of Ghosts I had was it felt like it was made by Apple in that so much was hidden away, to my knowledge there was no way to look at the challenges, for example, and then while playing the challenges seemed to be rather lacking. The gripes went further than that, but I literally haven't played online Ghosts in very nearly a year. When I started AW I knew things were different, I could very easily get to see the challenges and got to character customisation, classes, clan settings, combat record, leaderboards etc, everything is very nicely there in, IIRC, the "operations" section.

Another thing I really liked was the return from MW2 of a medals listing showing all the medals and how many times you've got them, I also went and had a look at the prestige emblems via the player card backgrounds. Once again, there are 15 prestiges and then prestige master, with 50 ranks per prestige.

Customisation
There is a nice little bit of customisation, being able to play as either a male or female, and being able to choose your head from a list of characters in the campaign, and I would assume extras too given the minimal number of women in the campaign. After that, you can modify what your exo and clothes looks like to a degree, some being default, others being unlocked via single player and some while playing. There are permanent unlocks and temporary ones.

There are also several variants of at least some of the weapons, each being better (and worse) in some way. Additionally, create a class seems a bit more robust having a lot more options and wildcards being automatically applied as necessary (assuming you're eligible for them); for example, if I select to add a third attachment to my primary, assuming I can use it and assuming I have the slots available, primary gunfighter will be applied automatically. Custom classes are unlocked from the off, no having to wait for lvl 4. You can have up to 2 of each perk, up to 2 grenades, an exo ability (and it's possible to replace the grenades with a second), which replaces secondary grenades, up to 4 score streaks (which count towards your 13 items), up to 3 wild cards, up to 3 attachments on your primary and up to either 2 or 3 on secondary.

Diamond camo returns for unlocking all camos on the gun, with a new camo (forgot the name) for completing all in class. All camo challenges are unlocked as soon as the gun is, but they will take a while, for example, to get them all, almong other things, you need 500 head-shots, 500 long shots, 50 kills without perks, without attachments etc. Similarly, all attatchments are unlocked via various challenges rather that just straight up kills. There is also the likes of firing from the hip, ads, maybe through cover too, etc

There are some interesting new attachments. The target finder has been updated slightly, now the target glows red if inside the sight, there is also a different sight that works similarly to the old target finder; there are obviously the older sights such as red dot and acog, and the variable sight is between red dot and the older style target finder. There are also other older attachments making a return, the likes of a fore grip, grenade launcher and silencer, although just because you have a silencer doesn't necessarily make you a ninja; among new attachments is one that mitigates the effect of a silencer.

Interface and associated
So, now let's jump into the game itself. I'm going to start off by talking about interfaces and the likes, only a short section mind. The HUD online is basically the same as the traditional HUD, with ammo in the bottom right, score bottom left, mini map top right. Personally, given how nice the HUD was in SP I would like to have seen that also be used in MP, but with the extra HUD elements necessary for MP also included, not necessarily differently to how they are though. For a Pc exclusive comment, by default, tab toggles the leader-boards rather than hold to show, and the leader-board is rather opaque. Also, the "ping" column shows the relatively meaningless bars rather than a number, which is a minor gripe, but it would be nice to see the numbers like on older games (and it would be nice for them to put the numbers in on consoles too). Finally, when playing kill confirmed the tag colours have changed, now enemy tags are red and friendly are blue, which took a bit of getting used to, and they're much darker, although with nice new textures.

Gameplay
Well, time for I guess the bit most people want. The gameplay seemed rather balanced, nothing seem to OP or UP, as long as you use it well. It took a bit of time to get used to the slow reloads compared to campaign (where I had my reload times halved). I would say that I enjoyed all the maps I played, and they're well designed to make use of the double jump boost that has been added. My first big thumbs up about it is a firing range accessible from the create-a-class menu so as to allow you to test your class before going into battle, however it also highlights just how weak the guns can be, which I will come back to later.

Playing kill confirmed it's nice to see that, once again, a team-mate confirming a kill will give you the same amount of points as if you had collected them yourself, although I was slightly confused about the 90 tag score limit in ground war rather than 100. The jump boost allows more dynamic gameplay, as many routes have different levels that can be switched between with the jump boost, it also allows some interesting ways to get around. One thing I noticed once, whether intentional or not, is that if you jump boost under a sloped roof you go shooting off to the side which could be interesting. Generally, the better players were making the most of the jump boost and jumping down at you while shooting, it also creates some rather fun situations where you have to spray otherwise you'll likely miss, but then you're both jumping around trying to melee (or taking the risk to stop to reload). It also allows some sneaky get aways (which I couldn't make the most of during campaign because of the high damage). Initially (before launch), I was rather pessimistic about the exos, now I love them.

Finally, for this initial overview, I'm going to talk about the one thing CoD can never get right: melee. We've returned to the near instant melee, but beyond that it seems especially OP. It would appear that there is some sort of melee aim assist (and I'm used ot playing on blops where there is minimal, or battlefield where it is also minimal) because more than once somebody would pass by, spin around and manage to melee me (although I didn't watch the kill cams), which suggests there may be some heavy assist or it is some way broken. And now I shall return to the low damage output of the weapons; in both situations I was spraying them in the back, and while the Bal is relatively low damage per round, it's best in class for RPM, yet it still wasn't enough which suggests to me that melee needs a bit of balancing.

As one last, slightly amusing comment: standard melee is punching (and sending them flying), but for the final kill cam it is given as "combat knife"


I may slip on to the co-op section later, or I may save it for later in the week/weekend, as re doing the few recordings that messed up are slightly higher priority.
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