I don't know if you're one of those gamers who salivates over every new morsel of Call of Duty news or if you're one of those who despises the mere mention of the game and would be content if the game crashed and burned and never produced another title again. There are a lot of us somewhere in the middle. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you might find yourself on, I think you can still look at what the developers and producers are shooting for and at least make some observations whether you like the game or not. Personally, I think the recent trailer and press coverage is exciting and is spot on.

I think Sledgehammer Games is doing exactly what they need to do to grow and sustain the series, and as much as I think Activision has fallen on their sword with some of their business decisions over the years, I think they are doing what they need to do to in order to continue moving past the stigma of the Infinity Ward debacle.

That's a whole lot of "I thinks" in that paragraph. It should go without saying since this is a personal blog that all of the thoughts and ideas presented are just my opinions, but I want to stress that...they are just my personal opinions. Don't worry...you can have your own. And I'd be more than happy to read them - so feel free to share them.

I've broken down my thoughts on why I think this title and the marketing push behind it has been brilliant thus far.

The Name Game

The Call of Duty series has been around a long time...since the early 2000s (Fall of 2003). In that time it has witnessed nearly a dozen releases (more if you count expansions and DLC) and has covered different periods of conflict. Many of the people I associate with (and even my own personal favorite) pick Modern Warfare as their favorite in the series. Modern Warfare was sort of this rebirth of the series, but has also gone on to establish its own legacy. Modern Warfare is a common household name (assuming your house has a gamer in it). I think one of the benefits of the name Modern Warfare is it told gamers exactly what they were getting into, whereas Black Ops, World at War and even Ghosts doesn't relay that same awareness of the setting. But with a name like Advanced Warfare, it's pretty clear where we are going with this game. Could Advanced Warfare be the next iconic game in the series? Dare I say yes.

Challenges the Competition

There seems to be a lot of focus on using the near future (and a slightly advanced) setting for a number of games. Titanfall is a perfect example of this. Sure, it's science fiction and exists in a pseudo-realistic setting... it plays a lot like a regular shooter, but also relies on advanced technology and weapons. You could make the argument Evolve does too. So, the days of shooters focusing on older periods of time and conflicts seem far less popular right now (the Viet Nam and World War II era games). And even the current period of time has kind of flat lined. If slightly futuristic is what gamers are interested in, then it is only natural for the next Call of Duty game to take this route. This seems to be the setting for some other up and coming big names like Watch Dogs and the Division - both of which are slightly futuristic and occurring in the relatively near future.

But...BUT...what is even more clever about the name - and this is coming from a big fan of the Ghost Recon games - the name Advanced Warfare is at least remotely similar to Advanced Warfighter, as in Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Whether this was intentional or not, who can say...but there are a number of similarities between the two, besides just the names...so it appeals to me (and others) for this reason too.

The Evolution of Warfare

Can you believe there was a time when war consisted of two nations lining their soldiers up on the battlefield and just opening fire on each other? At the end of the day, whoever suffered heavier losses typically lost the battle - but in this method of warfare, don't both sides really lose?

History was always my favorite subject in school and I was always fascinated with Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox.

Francis Marion (c. 1732 - February 27, 1795[1]) was a military officer who served in the American Revolutionary War. Acting with Continental Army and South Carolina militia commissions, he was a persistent adversary of the British in their occupation of South Carolina in 1780 and 1781, even after the Continental Army was driven out of the state in the Battle of Camden. Due to his irregular methods of warfare, he is considered one of the fathers of modern guerrilla warfare, and is credited in the lineage of the United States Army Rangers. He was known as the Swamp Fox.

I heard a number of people talking about Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare because it employs private security and unconventional warfare. Some were questioning this because of the negativity associated with organizations like Blackwater. News flash - private security firms have been engaging in combat and fighting wars for a long time now...and will continue to be used more in the future. You can read the news and see the theories a number of private security firms are involved in the Ukraine crisis. The days of fighting battles with huge armies facing off on the battlefield are a thing of the past. They are expensive and not very popular. Asymmetrical Warfare is being used (and has been being used) for quite some time, and I think the game taking this approach is extremely realistic and relevant. Not to mention all of the high tech weaponry that exists in real life (and in the game). Everything from armed drones to smart weapon technology. Did you know the US Navy is working on a rail gun? Did you know my Atlas Titan is outfitted with a rail gun? Personally, I think this approach was a brilliant strategy by the team working on this game.

Tackles Geopolitical Sensitive Issues

Lending to the discussion about asymmetrical or unconventional warfare above, the game also seems to tackle some rather edgy geopolitical issues that are sensitive in nature.

Geopolitics is the study of the effects of geography (both human and physical) on international politics and international relations. Geopolitics is a method of foreign policy analysis which seeks to understand, explain, and predict international political behavior primarily in terms of geographical variables. Typical geographical variables are the physical location, size, climate, topography, demography, natural resources, and technological advances of the state being evaluated. Traditionally, the term has applied primarily to the impact of geography on politics, but its usage has evolved over the past century to encompass wider connotations. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

The Call of Duty series is known for tackling sensitive subjects and trespassing on the fine line of what is and isn't acceptable. Most of us are familiar with the controversy surrounding the "No Russian" mission or the "Davis Family Vacation" mission. While it didn't get near the negative publicity as some of the other examples, I thought some of the content in Black Ops was extremely violent and jarring. Not to the point I would condemn them for it - I actually applaud them for illustrating the brutality of war.

So, watching the trailer for Advanced Warfare, it does seem like they are going to proceed with showing us the dark side of combat. And not just combat, but the reasons leading up to the use of combat. The game seems to hint at a theme surrounding the idea of nation building and democracy - personal freedom and civil liberty...and how all of this can be manipulated by the right people working for the right organization. At least that is the feel I got from it. I can't help but notice a correlation between the game and some of the real world military conflicts occurring around the world.

The Power of Speech

Besides a menacing outfit and the ability to choke you with his mind, one of the reasons Darth Vader is so intimidating is his deep and commanding voice. As the story goes,

Jones is also well-known as the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Darth Vader was portrayed in costume by David Prowse in the original trilogy, with Jones dubbing Vader's dialogue in postproduction due to Prowse's strong West Country accent being unsuitable for the role. At his own request, Jones was originally uncredited for the release of the first two films, though he would later be credited for them in the 1997 re-release. As he explained in 2008,

When Linda Blair did the girl in The Exorcist, they hired Mercedes McCambridge to do the voice of the devil coming out of her. And there was controversy as to whether Mercedes should get credit. I was one who thought no, she was just special effects. So when it came to Darth Vader, I said, no I'm just special effects. But it became so identified that by the third one, I thought, OK I've been denying it, I've been saying it sounds like the uncola nut guy Holder. Geoffrey Holder! ... But for the third one, I said OK, I'll let them put my name on it. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

A powerful speech spoken by the right voice can make all the difference. Whether it's Mel Gibson in Braveheart, Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men or Viggo Mortenson in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand! Men of the West!

Kevin Spacey's role in the game and the little speech he gives in the trailer is powerful. It's certainly not the first time we've heard a big name in a Call of Duty game. I loved hearing Kieffer Sutherland (Jack Bauer returned tonight, woo hoo) in one of the previous games. If done properly, Kevin Spacey has the power and the talent to really influence the game and make it a memorable experience. I'm excited to learn more about his character.

Coming Soon

While Call of Duty is often mocked for its annual releases, the truth is the series usually hits its targeted release date. We often scoff when a game fails to launch on time, but the games that do we often dismiss because we get so used to them coming out all of the time. The game will be here this fall, almost as if...right on schedule.

Some will be happy. Some will not.

But as far as I'm concerned, I'm ready to experience the future of warfare.