Monday, May 01 2006 @ 11:00 PM CDT
I’ll be the first to admit I stayed away from Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (GRAW) for awhile now. It’s not that I don’t love the tactical shooter, but it’s been overdone. It’s not that I’m not a graphics whore, because I am. It was the hype wagon that steered me clear of trying GRAW. With the PC release coming soon though, I figured it was time for combat and I am here to report: I stayed away too long!
You'll play as Captain Scott Mitchell, a Ghost team leader who's been tasked with leading his men into Mexico City to rescue our president, take out resistance in the middle of a civil war, and save the world.
The game is played over the shoulder from the third person perspective or a first person viewpoint. Since most the game is spent ducked behind objects or with your back to the wall though third person works best. If you have played Full Spectrum Warrior or the previous Ghost Recon titles the gameplay will feel right at home. Your AI counterparts will lay cover fire and actually play amazing on their own. There were few times I actually yelled at the TV because the AI did something stupid. Overall they left those moments for me to handle.
If the AI does take too much fire you have a short period to take out any snipers and run over to provide aid. Pressing Y will administer a med pack and let them rejoin the battle with limited health. Sadly though, when you die it’s over. This really can be frustrating at times and I often found myself using the AI team to draw out snipers and get shot down just to find the enemies. Nothing like using your support troops for bait.
The single-player game features a number of interesting additions to the series, including a controllable spy drone and the CrossCom system, which helps the player give orders and see battle conditions all on your immediate HUD. On the Xbox 360 this is done by pressing left or right on the d-pad to select the unit you want to issue an order to and then pressing up or down to issue an order. You can also change the units from recon to aggressive tactics by using the left bumper.
During combat you will take command of three other soldiers, the spy drone, apache helicopters and tanks. Talk about some good times and plenty of gun fire. Stepping into GRAW I was quickly reminded you can not just run and gun your way through the missions. Even on normal difficulty the game provided plenty of challenge and strategy to not only stay alive myself, but keep my team alive. The AI calls for help, and though is scripted will react to whatever you decide to toss at it.
The on screen HUD contains the CrossCom system, weapon details, a map and your health and stance with plenty of room for the action. In most cases after you complete a battle pressing back will open the map and you can plan your route from there. As dumb as it sounds I was thrilled to find that when you are facing a direction on the map your player will face the same. I know a lot of games already employ this revolutionary technology but for some reason I remember all the games that don’t do that over the ones that do. With how big these levels are and complex some of the maps are I was glad I didn’t need to guess which way I was looking on the map.
Graphically speaking this game was gorgeous. With its high dynamic range lighting, amazing explosions and overall beauty in making Mexico City just feel gritty and real. Shadows just seem to cast just right to conceal yourself and the enemy within them. Playing through GRAW I was most irritated in the night missions when I was forced to play in night vision just because I knew what I was missing. Even within these moments of eye candy withdrawal though, I loved playing GRAW.
Audibly speaking GRAW nails the sounds as well. Between the short briefings videos that run on your CrossCom, to the gun fire you let out it doesn’t hold you back from becoming totally engrossed in GRAW.
What is a Tom Clancy title though without some multiplayer? Xbox Live, system link or split screen options are all there. Elimination, Territory, and Objective are the basic modes, and you can select different types of games for each one. All three have Solo, Team and Co-op variants and offer tons of variation. You can set kit restrictions, limit the number of respawns, change the enemy density, turn on or off drones and helicopters and so on and so forth. Hours can be spent playing on Xbox Live and probably will if you decide to play this game. Right now this is “the game” to play on Xbox Live on the 360.
I started this review not sure what I felt about the game overall, but as I write it I feel more and more like a fan boy. The only real knock I have is the single player may be too tough for some to finish and the gameplay may have some feeling left out I still suggest giving the game a try. I regret not picking it up sooner. Jack Bauer style endless action just can not be passed up!