Given everything said beforehand, I’d be remiss not to knock Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare down a peg. The one great weakness to the campaign for Advanced Warfare is the story line. For all the possibilities that the flavor gives and for just how interesting a concept it is, the staggering incompetence of the main villain and the primary heroes just annihilates it all.
SPOILERS AHEAD (so fair warning)
Kevin Spacey lends his image and voice to Jonathan Irons, the leader of Atlas and primary antagonist of the game. We’re lead to believe that his reasons for seeking world domination are an inflated sense of self-righteousness and a desire for revenge for his son’s death in South Korea as a United States Marine. As well, he has a grand master plan to advance Atlas at other’s expense. However, under any kind of scrutiny, this entire set of plans and motivations falls apart.
First of all, seeking revenge for his son’s death in South Korea doesn’t seem to make all that much sense at face value. At Will’s funeral, Jonathan called it “unnecessary”. Now there’s only two possibilities here: either it was unnecessary because Mitchell could have saved him (this makes no sense based off of Jonathan’s befriending of Mitchell) or it was unnecessary because the mission in South Korea was unnecessary (the only logical conclusion). The problem with this is that just five minutes earlier, during the mission itself, Mitchell comes into contact with none other than Gideon and AN ATLAS TEAM. If the Marines presence is unnecessary, why is your top team there as well? Or for that matter, why did you go to Baghdad in the early 2000’s? The revenge plot makes no sense because Will died doing exactly what Jonathan has his men do on a daily basis. He just died in a different uniform. If Jonathan is mad because he died a Marine and not an Atlas soldier, then the person to blame is Will, not the American Government.
Second and most importantly, Jonathan Irons is perhaps the WORST VILLAIN EVER. In a weird way, his end goal is too good for him to truly be seen as a true villain. The glittering New Baghdad, amazing relief efforts, and all around improved security and prosperity brought about by Atlas were far too real for Atlas to seem like an evil empire. Furthermore, Iron’s immoral means to his end were entirely unnecessary. Everything Atlas had achieved it could have achieved without ever sacrificing a moral framework, and, in fact, could have survived Iron’s downfall had the heroes been smart enough to realize it (more on them later).
When Mitchell first joins Atlas it is already the largest standing military in the world. The U.N. were in talks with Irons about a Security Council seat. You get the general impression, later backed up by events, that Atlas just flat out does things better than any other government: relief efforts, transportation security, VIP extractions, hostage situations, and whatever else you can imagine. At the center of all this is Irons, who seems to genuinely want to make the world a better place.
Stop for a second. Here is where, generally, we find out that actually Irons is just a power monger and Atlas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Unfortunately, the “but…” never comes. Every Atlas employee you meet is a genuinely good person. There’s never any fraud uncovered. No under the table protection money. Nothing. Irons and Atlas really ARE making the world a better place. Left as it stands when Mitchell first joins, Atlas probably would have helped the world enter a golden age of peace and prosperity.
Here’s where Irons ruins everything. Inexplicably, despite it being entirely unnecessary and counter intuitive to everything else he does, Irons lets the worst terrorist attack imaginable JUST HAPPEN. He knows it will happen and does nothing. Ostensibly because when Atlas steps in to save the day (it does) it will get additional world prestige and power (it sorta does). Thing is, Atlas would have gotten there anyways without it. Think about how completely unnecessary it is for Irons part to commit a world atrocity to achieve something he would have had in 5 years whether it happened or not. Even worse? He records the conversation where he finds out about this plot, THEN KEEPS THE TAPES!!!! Come on man!! This is like Super Villain 101. Never ever keep any recordings of anything EVER. Deniability, my friend, is a wonderful thing. This is like the Watergate bungling on steroids. Seriously incompetent.
Yet, Irons gets an out, because his staggering incompetence is topped only by the supposed “heroes” of this story.
Once it comes to light exactly what Irons has done, Mitchell defects to a world task force called Sentinel, who are tasked with investigating Atlas and bringing them down. It is never explained why anyone (*cough* America *cough*) thought it necessary to investigate Atlas in the first place. What IS explained to Mitchell is that now that they have him and the tapes in question, which prove that Irons AND ONLY IRONS are responsible for letting the meltdowns happen, we’re going to take down Atlas. Not just Irons, ALL OF ATLAS. Wait, what? So one guy means we are going to tear down the largest military infrastructure on the planet who have irrevocably made the world a better place? Did I miss something here? What happened to court rooms? Irons was dumb enough to hand you tapes of him doing the deed. Take it to a judge! Problem solved. Judging by Gideon’s reaction, Atlas would have never backed Irons once it was out in the open what he had done. They had signed up to make the world better, not tear it down.
No. Instead of saving the framework upon which a better world has been built. We’re pressing the reset button. Let’s make it 2001 again by destroying Atlas. Let’s embroil the world in a world-wide conflict of interests that makes little to no sense and destroys the worlds security of communication and transport. Sounds great.
All this to say that, in spite of the solid design of the campaign itself and how fun it was to play in general, the narrative framework that is given takes a real chunk out of the experience. It breaks up what could have been a fun and immersive experience and just makes it fun. The flavor is still good on the outside of the egg, but the yoke inside is rotten.