- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2014

Well my fellow saviors of the planet, it’s that time of the year again to roll up your camouflaged sleeves and fight global terrorism.

Yes, the latest edition to one of the most poplar first-person shooters’ in the history of the medium arrives with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Activision and Sledgehammer Games, $59.99, Rated Mature, reviewed on PlayStation 4, $59.99).

The epic franchise continues to finely tune a gamer’s ability to exterminate evil humans while delivering a Michael-Bay-sized assault on the senses through a blockbuster-style story campaign.

It’s the year 2054, and a player becomes Jack Mitchell, a former U.S. Marine who after a serious combat injury receives a high-tech prosthetic arm and becomes a soldier of fortune for the Atlas Corp.

Atlas, the private military contractor headed by ruthless CEO Jonathan Irons, eventually becomes the leading protector of the planet, deploying its warriors across the globe to stop evil.

Of course, power corrupts, and after Mitchell learns of Irons’ nefarious plans to use a DNA bioweapon, our hero and his rebellious friends must stop the evil CEO from destroying the world.

First, no matter how clichéd of a story we get about the politicizing and profiteering of war, it’s worth diving into the 15 chapters when Kevin Spacey plays the villain. His flippant understated tone, explosive bursts of anger and virtual presence on the screen will elicit a smile to fans of his work in “House of Cards” in Netflix.

Now, with a game set in the future and called “Advanced Warfare,” the action features some very fun technology amidst its stellar-looking firefights.

The weaponry and devices were a smorgasbord of slick tricks, be it monitoring holographic projections while on the battlefield, climbing with magnetic gloves, using a gun that uses a 3-D printer on board to resupply bullets, firing a turret on a Hovertank and tossing grenades that can expose nearby enemies or chase and blow them up.

I could have spent all day flying an attack drone around — using its camera and weapon to pick off bad guys.

Additionally, players now wear a simple exoskelton to increase powers such as jumping and punching and can now cloak and deploy a riot shield. Better yet, some levels feature suiting up in a XS1 Goliath to walk around like a mini-Transformer; it’s dazzling.

Mitchell will travel the globe on varied missions as he visits such locales as Seattle, Detroit, Seoul, Bangkok, New Baghdad, Lagos and Antarctica.

Yes, a mission in the frozen wiles complete with a battle that felt like I was plunged into Hoth and fighting an invading Darth Vader and the Empire.

The seven or so hours spent on conquering the solo campaign were a nonstop visual treat, blurring the pixelated line between cinema and game. However, the “Call of Duty” franchise continues to thrive due to its popular, online, multiplayer matches.

This year is no exception with a dozen frenetic, firefight variations, 13 maps serving as battle arenas, a new cooperative mode called Exo-Survival (fight off waves of enemies) and more perks and intense scorestreaks to deploy (unleash an aerial drone packing a machine gun or suit up in a Goliath) as combatants customize stylish armor, helmets and exo-suits to dive into the violent action.

Of the battles, a new mode called Uplink should further consume a player’s time.

Imagine a world where teams of Mandalorian hunters (of Star War’s Boba and Jango Fett fame) scour environments using short bursts from a boot thruster to bounce around while shooting and killing opponents.

The objective is for a team member to pick up a satellite drone found scattered around the map, locate an opposing team’s energy portal floating in midair and toss the object into it to score a point. It’s a near sporting event (including a quick halftime) as teams work together to protect the drone carrier, as this highly addictive mode sort of resembled a free roaming version of “Rollerball.”

Unfortunately, one miscue with this year’s “Call of Duty Advanced Warfare” package is the lack of any sizeable zombie-hunting adventure.

One does exist as a bonus round in the Exo-Survival cooperative mode, but it will take some work to unlock. I’m afraid players will need to spend money in an upcoming content download to re-kill the undead.

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