Call of Duty is a casual game.
"Familiar genre, like a card game or board game"? Is there a more ubiquitous genre of game now than the first-person shooter? FPSs haven't been a hardcore niche since people had to jerry-rig computers together to play Doom multiplayer in the same room.
"Allowing gameplay in short bursts, during work breaks or, in the case of portable and cell phone games, on public transportation"? Pretty much every stage in these games can be plowed through in about 15-20 minutes, and your hand is held every step of the way. "Getting stuck", the way you can in, say, Half-Life, or Far Cry, or Deus Ex is not a thing that happens in these games. You go in, do what the game tells you, enjoy a cheap thrill, and you can go do something else. Each mission is a self-contained slice of mayhem.
"The ability to quickly reach a final stage, or continuous play with no need to save the game"? Well, granted, Advanced Warfare's quite a bit longer than its predecessors--about 6-7 hours total?--but it is very, very possible to plow through just about everything that's not Modern Warfare 1 or Black Ops 2 in the same time it takes to get through a Lord of the Rings movie. And because autosaves happen every time your character scratches his ass, losing a measure of progress isn't really a big deal either.
So, pretty much, the only inherent trait Call of Duty doesn't share with Farmville or Bubble Witch Saga is the fact that it's not free, and there's no "demo" version. Everything else? We're just dabbling in semantics, kids. Call of Duty is a very, very casual, accessible, simple game, played by millions upon millions of gamers of varying skills. For a LOT of folks, this, a new GTA, and a new FIFA/Madden are the only reasons to even turn on their console. If that's not the definition of a casual title, I don't know what is.
And you know, there's a freedom to that realization, figuring out that Call of Duty isn't everything wrong with video games, as a lot of smart, well-meaning, but ultimately overzealous folks might tell you. Call of Duty becomes a a toy, an easily ignorable time-waster of simple pleasures. It is McDonalds. It is Transformers movies. It is Mountain Dew. It is Doritos. And of course, they have marketing deals worked out with all of these things. Why the fuck wouldn't they? Conceptually, all these things are built on the same principle, and there's nothing wrong with enjoying them in limited quantities, long as you're not mistaking any of these things with, respectively, Black Angus, District 9, Maine Root, or Guiltless Gourmet.
And with that freedom in mind early on, I played through Advanced Warfare. And, for what it is worth, it's the best Call of Duty there's been since Modern Warfare 1. How much mileage you want to assign to that statement is all you.
The fact that you're 50 years into the future, attached to a badass cyborg suit and have all sorts of delightful future tech strapped to you is a huge part of that. We're removed from the sort of socio-political clusterfucks that made Modern Warfare lose the beat the second they put in that Russian airport massacre. You're dealing with psychopaths from the future. No guilt, no remorse. These games get to be binary good vs evil again. The enemy is private military. If Troy Baker's Mitchell had lost a hell of a lot more than his arm in the accident that starts this game, this could've been the military counterpart to the Robocop remake, with Uncanny Valley Kevin Spacey running OCP.
As it stands, Spacey's more playing a weird amalgamation of his Lex Luthor and Frank Underwood. For the record, they're so damn close to getting the mocap right, but so far. Something about the way mouths move in this game doesn't work. Besides the point though: It's all about Spacey playing power hungry despot, with a few cool moments of seething venom like only he can deliver. He's clearly having a ball doing something new with that usual way he does things.
Everything else? Well, Titanfall beat the game to a lot of stuff gameplay-wise, and even as a casual game, there's still a tendency to not let the player have control of its most insane moments, like that little kid down the block who hordes the Superman toy when it's time to go kiss Lois Lane, even though it was your team of Ninja Turtles, X-Men, and that one Power Ranger the dog almost ate who actually did most of the work. There's an end section where the Golden Gate bridge gets destroyed (because, of course it does) that might be harrowing, madcap stuff if the player got to control any small part of it aside from discovering the explosion that does it.
Still, taken as a 6-hour interactive Bruckheimer joint where occasionally you get to bionic-punch dudes and play around with future weapons, it's fun. Shit blows up pretty, the technology is nice and varied, and it's just hectic enough to feel like you're playing The Rock: The Ride. And of course, it's just plain pretty as hell. It's aesthetically pleasing, you feel like a powerful motherfucker, and there's loads of badguys to kill with extreme prejudice. There's even a pretty decent no bullshit female Russian operative who doesn't get fridged as part of the main cast of heroes.
And really, that's all anyone who plays this type of thing wants and/or gets. Advanced Warfare just removes the dissonance of going "but....real wars, real people! Politics! Implications!!" Advanced Warfare basically gives you a glass of warm Mountain Dew, a Dorito, a laser cannon, pats your worried little head, and lays you down to tell you the story of how Kevin Spacey tried to take over the world with WMDs.
And then, someday, when you get older, you can play Spec Ops: The Line. Won't that be nice?