The launch of yet another chapter in the Call of Duty series is upon the world, catapulting players into the future - as envisioned by developer Sledgehammer Games - where the already cutting-edge soldiers of the modern battlefield are put to shame, thanks to the rise of Private Military Corporations and the combat technology they make possible. This is the future of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
At this point, Activision doesn't need to worry about getting their star franchise into the mainstream spotlight - but the effort is expected nonetheless. And now that the live-action trailer is out of the way, we arrive at a new paragon of mainstream gaming: late night host Conan O'Brien. Perhaps 'paragon' is overstating things, but that doesn't mean his own preview fails to illuminate some of the game's highest (and lowest) points.
O'Brien has previously tried his hand at games like Grand Theft Auto V, Watch Dogs, and more recently, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. But the latest 'Clueless Gamer' segment swings for the fences, strapping O'Brien - who neither knows, plays, or cares about video games - into one of the most famed rollercoaster game series ever. And he actually doesn't do too bad.
But once the jokes have subsided (although the idea of dropping into a foreign battlefield as something most would like to avoid holds water) O'Brien actually points out some valid concerns to a game that is otherwise receiving rave reviews. While the franchise itself is guaranteed to perform well on store shelves (and possibly even outsell its predecessor, Ghosts), even O'Brien can't help but point out the ridiculous absurdity of 'Holding X to Pay Respects.'
It's a legitimate gripe that may only appear jarring to those less versed in AAA game design; as was the case with O'Brien's insights into Hitman: Absolution. But unlike some of the other major titles previewed by the late night host, Advanced Warfare does have some flaws clearly highlighted. Sure, the bullet-fuelled, futuristic combat itself is worth the price of admission, but even a talent like actor Kevin Spacey can't conceal the areas of performance capture that have earned Call of Duty criticism in the past.
In the end, O'Brien shows that for those looking for small victories along a visually-stunning, adrenaline-pumping road, Advanced Warfare is, unsurprisingly, a wise purchase. Even if the endless repetition of 'death by traffic' isn't as horrifying as the fates that befell Lara Croft, it's a wise reminder that even in digital form, looking both ways before crossing the streets is never a bad idea.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare releases on November 4, 2014 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.