"Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare," the latest in the blockbuster franchise, went on sale Monday and the first wave of feedback is in. Here are five things reviewers are excited (or a little annoyed) about:
1. The future looks and feels like the future
The series started in World War II and advanced through the Cold War and into the "near future" of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" and "Black Ops II," released in 2011 and 2012, respectively. "Advanced Warfare" is set in the year 2054 and is the first to feel truly futuristic.
"When you first bear witness to a flying giant snake made up purely of small drones roaming the streets of Seoul, you know this is new science-fictional territory for Call of Duty," wrote Miguel Concepcion in his review on GameSpot.
2. Exosuits change (almost) everything
In what Videogamer.com's Steven Burns calls a "game-changing" addition, exoskeletons give soldiers abilities like they've never had before. The tactical suits, also referred to as exos, enable players to "boost jump" higher than ever, instantly dodge left or right and use evasive maneuvers in midair, among other things. In Exo Survival multiplayer mode, exos can be enhanced with upgrades including a protective shield and an invisibility cloak.
The new abilities change gameplay; settings offer opportunities to put boost jumping and other features to work. Brian Albert, in his preliminary review on IGN, said, "The new collection of maps and modes make great use of the Exo suit by enabling vertical movement." GameSpot's Concepcion, however, was not impressed and thought that across the game's 15 chapters there are "too few sections in which using an exo ability is mandatory."
3. Uplink is like a basketball game -- with guns
Many reviewers are excited about the new Uplink multiplayer mode, which several have compared to trying to dunk a basketball. But here, the ball is a satellite drone and the basket is the eponymous uplink. And you, your teammates and your opponents all have guns.
DigitalSpy called it "by far our favorite new addition," Polygon, the "coolest new addition," and GameSpot said it is "terribly absorbing." Reviewers on IGN commented how much they enjoy the way the mode takes advantage of exo abilities and necessitates teamwork.
4. Kevin Spacey is great
No spoiler here. Fans of his acting won't find it surprising that Kevin Spacey is getting rave reviews for his role voicing the intense and power-hungry Jonathan Irons, head of the Atlas Corporation (founded in 2035) that developed the exoskeleton technology.
"He's the kind of charismatic bad guy I can't help but like," Albert wrote on IGN.
The renderings of Spacey's face are remarkable, even uncanny. The animation is superb, lifelike and true to the actor's unmistakable face. Even Spacey himself was amazed. "Now, the technology is so incredible that you look at it and it's like 'me,'" he told Jimmy Fallon on the "Tonight Show" Friday.
5. Zombies are coming ... eventually
First there were rumors that "Advanced Warfare" would include a zombie-killing mode, which has been popular in past iterations of "Call of Duty." There were rumors Monday that zombies would only be available via the $50 Season Pass that gives players access to all extra downloadable content, much to the displeasure of reviewers and fans alike. Those rumors were quashed when Activision reportedly confirmed that game developer Sledgehammer is working on a Zombie Mode that will be downloadable as a one-off addition at some point in the future. The publisher did not specify a date.