The Call Of Duty se­ries be­gan life 11 years ago as a PC game cen­tred on World War II. Like many PC games of old, it had a some­what re­strained tone, ex­em­pli­fied in its load­ing-screen quotes from famed mil­i­tary types, which at­tempted to un­der­score the se­ri­ous­ness of this whole war busi­ness. In the years since, nine sub­se­quent key in­stal­ments have seen Call Of Duty be­come a more bom­bas­tic beast, swelling in stature to be­come the big­gest, most lu­cra­tive brand in the world of main­stream videogames. It has achieved a great deal, then, and yet un­til now a Call Of Duty has fea­tured on the cover of Edge only in trib­ute form, to hon­our Mod­ern War­fare at our 100th-is­sue and 20-year an­niver­saries. Against this back­drop, Ad­vanced War­fare im­me­di­ately feels out of the or­di­nary.

There is no ques­tion that this par­tic­u­lar Call Of Duty throws up an un­usu­ally long list of things to talk about. First, there are its ori­gins at Sledge­ham­mer Games, a stu­dio that con­tains many of the people who cre­ated the first – and best – Dead Space at Vis­ceral Games, and who are con­vinced that one of the things they can deliver this time around is a co­her­ent, mean­ing­ful sto­ry­line. Then there’s the game’s new fa­cial an­i­ma­tion sys­tem, pow­ered by tech­nol­ogy and tech­niques that will also be used in the pro­duc­tion of James Cameron’s Avatar 2. There is Ad­vanced War­fare’s au­dio de­sign, whose aim is to repli­cate not only the sound of let­ting loose with heavy firearms, but the torso-in­vad­ing feel of it too. And there is Sledge­ham­mer’s broad goal for the game’s vis­ual ap­pear­ance – pho­to­re­al­ism – some­thing it achieves in places thanks to a com­bi­na­tion of its new ren­der­ing tech­nol­ogy, an abun­dance of data sourced from the real world, and the ap­pli­ca­tion of its artists’ ex­pert hands.

Throw in a help­ing of Kevin Spacey and a boat­load of war­mon­ger­ing hard­ware to fit the 2054 set­ting, and you have a Call Of Duty that feels like the next gen­uine step change for the ideas first mapped out in 2003. We dig into all of these topics, and more, in our cover story.


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