Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter - Review
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter has been in the minds of many gamers since it was first announced as an Xbox 360 launch title. However, falling short of the release, kept us all waiting. But, we didn't let our hopes down - we were certain the game was going to rock. And it does - big time. With a great game comes a big review, be prepared...
Popping in the retail CD into my Xbox 360, I wasn't sure if I could harbor the anticipation of finally playing the game (but we must go on). The first thing you must do is create a profile on your Xbox 360. This requires you to have a HDD or memory unit before you can begin. Once you have that down, you can start the campaign...
The very first mission is of course a live tutorial mission. You will be given small tasks and instructions to show you how to play the game and get used to the controls. Being a long-time Rainbow Six 3 fan for the Xbox, I thought I wouldn't have a problem learning the controls, but they are very different and more in-depth. Your actions are mostly centered around the 'Y' button, which I didn't particularly like and forces you to get used to. Other than this, the rest was smooth sailing until I actually got into action. Taking cover was a bit weird at first and being nearly done with the game, I still haven't mastered it. Putting my inabilities aside, the tutorial shows you most of what you'll need to know - just be sure to catch every bit or you might be screwed (and would have to resort to the manual).
As far as controlling your team mates and other entities that I will explain later - it couldn't be more simple. Each entity has its own set of three or four tactics: Move, Regroup, Attack, and switching modes. All of this is done with the bumpers and D-pad. It gets more complicated when controlling more things later on (again, this will be explained more fully later on in this review).
Other controls include switching weapons, which requires some brain power to work - press a button and use the D-pad to scroll through the inventory of your primary and secondary weapons, and grenades. You also have a sub selection which will allow you to switch between smoke and regular grenades and fire modes on various weapons.
Camera movement is not a problem because its just like a first-person shooter game, only you see your own head. This means that yes, you can see yourself get shot in the face. The way the action is presented is definitely something unique. The HUD is also very cool. In some situations 'bugs' are used by the enemy to disrupt your display and fizz out radio communication. This complicates things and makes for very realistic action.
The campaign gets you right into the action unfolding in Mexico. You play as Captain Scott Mitchell, Ghost team leader. As Mitchell, you are tasked with the job of leading Ghost squad into Mexico City to rescue the United States president, squash a coup, and ultimately save the world - typical Tom Clancy style. You are pitted through various missions including clearing out areas, protecting the president and transporting heavy weapons (tanks), and more from place to place.
As we were saying earlier about controlling your team mates and other entities: you are pitted with a group of 3 other soldiers to help you fight. The group is multi-talented consisting of a grenadier, marksman, and rifleman, or you can mix and match your own squad of whatever you'd like (though the game presents you with the best options). As you progress throughout the game you will also become in contact with APCs, and other tanks which you can guide towards and use against your enemies. You can't actually sit in the tank and fire its guns (as much as we'd like to), your simply not trained for it. But, you can control who it shoots and when to move in towards your objective. Similarly to the tanks, you can also control helicopters (where it goes and what to shoot). As an added bonus you can even control what is called the Cypher - a robotic gyro-chopper-like machine that is capable of scoping the area and giving away enemy positions when in detection mode.
All of the vehicles in the game can be blown up - including abandoned vehicles that you might have to use as cover from time to time. All of which adds an astounding amount of realistic environment. Some vehicles even have alarm systems that are activated when you hit it too hard with that bullet that was supposed to hit your enemy. Although the environments are beautiful I found them a bit empty. Mexico City, the thriving urban location that is boasted as the most densely populated area in the world, has nothing but the President and the military bad guys running around. Most of the game takes place outdoors, yet there are no civilians to be seen running for cover. This would have added an extra layer of environment and a sense of realistic combat situation. Without the use of civilians, you can miss all you want and just shoot the guy that isn't automatically marked green on your HUD.
Don't get me wrong, the game is hard enough even on normal difficulty. I usually find myself with very low health hiding behind a wall hoping the opposition will give up (they never do, but do occasionally try to flank you). The difficulty of the game is multiplied when you see that there is no way to save. Like Halo 2, the game works on auto-saves and checkpoints, both of which are done when you reach a hard battle or complete an objective. The game gets very tough when you are left with low health and a good portion of your mission remaining. You have to take your time and get your shots quickly before you are overrun.
The multiplayer mode of G.R.A.W. is fantastic. Offering many options and many ways to play there is nowhere this game went wrong in its multiplayer abilities. I can guarantee (granted you a fan of this type of shooter) that you will find yourselves playing your friends over Live for quite some time. There are many ways we can approach the multiplayer, from the various gametypes to its cooperative mission-based mode - it has all been incorporated into the game providing for nonstop action that anyone could enjoy. One thing that really stood out among other Xbox 360 games is that we didn't run into any problems hosting games, or playing ranked games. No weird glitches or problems joining other's games. This is a plus, considering most new titles have some problems. G.R.A.W. had none. We don't want to spoil the joys of finding things to do online with this game, but trust us when we say that you won't be disappointed.
G.R.A.W. isn't spectacular around the graphics. Oh wait, yes it is. This game is truely high-definition and has amazing graphics. Utilizing high-dynamic range lighting that simulates how the pupil of your eye adjusts to changes in light, among other techniques make the game one for the books - a benchmark worthy of next-generation status. The areas where graphics excel is seen in the cutscenes that you look around in. Adding to the stunning graphics is the audio.
G.R.A.W. is outfitted with a custom soundtrack of great mood-setting music. Music will kick in when you are on the brink of a nasty gunfight, and will add to the mood making you feel part of the battle putting you in the center of the action. Surround sound is a must have with this game to get the full effect that is oh... so... sweet.
...get this game. It is completely worth the $60 to purchase, whether you will only play it for the single player or the multiplayer. The game excels in just about every aspect where it counts not overdoing it. Seriously, you gotta' get it.
And the Scores...
Gameplay: 5Audio: 4Story: 3Multiplayer: 5Replay value: 4Cooperative: 4Overall: 4.5/5
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