From the 50s to the 90s everyone thought it would be a brief, final, nuclear confrontation that would send us all back to the Stone Age (except for the spiked cars we'd be driving around doing cool stunts in).
Now that we actually live in the future, it seems that major conflicts are fought through the medium of Seth Rogen movies, and retaliatory cyber attacks designed to embarrass Angelina Jolie and Scott Rudin. Oh well. No post-apocalyptic excitement for us today, dear. It's off.
Advance Warfare takes the Call of Duty franchise further into the future than ever before; exoskeletons, smart grenades, white noise generators, magnetic gloves, and Titanfall-style jump boosters. Sounds exciting doesn't it? And it is exciting - especially if you like to have your excitement rationed out by a strict disciplinarian who will strike your hand with a paddle whenever you try to take the excitement for yourself.
You see, Advanced Warfare chooses when to let you have access to many of your gadgets – keeping you funneled along the usual strictly linear narrative. Try as you might, there's no breaking beyond the narrow boundaries of where the game insists you go, and where it wants you to be. We'd say it's the gaming equivalent of S&M, except we don't know what that is.
But has it not always been thus? In pretty much every respect. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is exactly what you expect it to be; this is profoundly familiar territory. As far as the single player game goes, it’s once again like being in the most OTT action movie you can imagine. Indeed, that’s what the CoD franchise has become – it’s a series of interactive movies, with a multiplayer game attached.
Like the Police Academy films, which could be distilled down into “The one with the balloon”, or “The one with the zoo”, this is “The one with Kevin Spacey” – represented here by some remarkable motion capture in the cutscenes, as he portrays yet another stock megalomaniac waging a one-man war on America.
The graphics in the cutscenes are so good that we were left pondering whether his avatar dyes his hair or not. Unfortunately, it’s complemented by some less well-realised in-game scripted sequences, during which Spacey appears to be wearing a toupee made from a melted Easter egg.
…Except: do mind.
Because this visual disparity appears throughout Advanced Warfare. At points this is a spectacular looking game, and at other times the textures are so basic as to be barely a step up from Minecraft. And sorry to repeatedly bang the same drum, like we're an excited toddler with a saucepan and a wooden spoon, but if you’re playing this on a next gen system it’s hard not to feel a bit cheated.
Talking of feeling ripped off… The single player game here, as exhilarating as it is, seems to end very abruptly. There are some 15 missions, but it felt like the shortest CoD game in recent memory – barely ten hours worth of gameplay. If that. And this is coming from the most cack-handed gamers on earth.
Of course, the single player game, and your Kevin Spaceys and that, are just a delivery method for the real meat: the multiplayer options. Mercifully, this is when the “Advanced” bit of “Advanced Warfare” sort of starts to justify itself.
With players equipped with their boosters, maps have grown upwards, meaning that old, well-honed strategies must be thrown out in favour of new ones. It doesn’t feel exactly like Titanfall – Call of Duty is much more confined and focused – but it is a bit of an unfortunate coincidence that both games should be released this relatively close to one another.
Beyond that, there are tweaks to the usual rewards and progression system - but nothing revolutionary. In short, if you like the way Call of Duty multiplayer and co-op feels - they haven't messed it up.
Ultimately, then… it’s another Call of Duty game, and you’ve probably already bought this or you never will. You could argue that the series has fallen into a rut, and it would be just as valid as suggesting it has settled into a comfortable routine; unchallenging, but utterly playable in a very popcorn-y way, with a ton of multiplayer value.
It's just a question of whether it's completely superfluous given that it's not sufficiently different to the last half a dozen CoD titles. Probably not superfluous to Activision's profits, mind. Oh, aren't WE cynical.
SUMMARY: Glossy, big budget, interactive movie and online deathmatch. With K.Spacey.