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Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 Review
|ON OTHER PLATFORMS: Xbox360, PC|
developer: Red Storm Entertainment
CPU 2.0 GHz, 1GB RAM, 2GB HDD, 128MB VRAM card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Jul 17, 07 (released)
|» All About Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 on ActionTrip|
After its rather successful showing on the Xbox 360, Ubisoft's latest iteration in the long-running Ghost Recon series, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, has finally graced us PC gamers with its presence. For those of you who are into controllers and living room gaming, our review of the Xbox 360 version can be found here.
I, on the other hand, haven't played the 360 version, so I'm sort of fresh to this one.
Just like any other Ghost Recon title, GRAW 2 centers around you as the squad leader and your team as you plow throw (sometimes stealthily, sometime not) hostile zones, taking down bad guys and essentially following waypoints to your mission goals. The command drops your squad in Mexico, where socialist-inclined rebels are taking over control, and as the troops loyal to the government are trying to cling on to power, the Ghosts are sent in to help out (the loyalists), because, apparently, peace has a high price (and that is such a popular contemporary tagline).
All real world political connotations aside, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 introduces a new and much more streamlined way of ordering your troops around while being engaged in intense firefights. I must say that I was quite impressed with how the interface works on the mouse and keyboard combo. Using the middle mouse button I was able to effectively boss my boys around as bullets flew everywhere and I had tangos in my scope. This is a great thing, as it allows you to both cover your guys (while they move) and keep an eye out on the enemy at all times. Calling in air and logistical support was a breeze as well, making the whole combat experience a lot more intense and intuitive than it was ever before in the series. Thumbs up for a job well done.
Adding to the overall exciting feel of the battles is the level design itself;
it's a lot let constrictive than in the previous games (boy, when I just
think back to the original Ghost Recon). You are allowed to pick alternate routes
to check points, sometimes simply having to take a different path as a particular
choke point was being guarded by a nasty machine gun nest.
Furthermore, even though being an advanced soldier means that you will often have visual indicators of the tangos' positions, this doesn't necessarily mean that you will be able to breeze through areas with minimal regard for cover and possible ambush angles. Trust me it's quite the opposite in GRAW 2. After, say, the first part of ACT II, the game gets really tough and having just three quick saves on the normal level of difficulty and having to do quite a bit of heavy fighting and tracking through tango-infested terrain before you are auto-saved, means that GRAW 2 may present a formidable challenge at times. Not a bad thing per se, but it can get frustrating at times. Yes, the action is great and intense, but often it will entail quite a bit of backtracking.
Graphically, the game is very polished-looking. Granted, I did finally play it on an 8800 card (performance-wise I had smooth frame-rates throughout). GRAW 2's special effects looked very nice, particularly the haze effect and the explosions. Player models and the environments were also quite impressive, especially if the video settings were fully beefed up. The physics engine worked great too, being able to discern between different materials (don't take cover behind a wooden fence, trust me on that one), and with the obligatory use of rag doll physics.
The AI, on the other hand, I wasn't fully impressed with. Overall, it's passable; your teammates will follow you around rather effectively (though leaving them simply on "follow" is guaranteed to cause headaches during missions; instead, make sure to issue specific move orders yourself). The Mexican baddies are convincing enough, but sometimes, they will charge mindlessly into your line of fire, even though their buddy is lying dead not a couple of meters in front of them and they are under decent cover.
As for the audio aspect of the game, the voice acting and the environmental sounds are well done. This is not something that can be said about certain instances of the soundtrack, however. The intermittent guitar-heavy hard rock sounds seemed rather tacky when used, even on the most intense missions. Sounded too much like a "B" production war movie.
The single-player campaign can only be considered lengthy if you factor in all the backtracking. Otherwise, it'd be safe to assume you won't be spending days on it if you play it with any sort of dedication. GRAW 2 does feature a multiplayer mode though, which can be quite fun if you are a fan of this particular type of gameplay. Several patches have already been released that fix various online play issues, so here's hoping that Ubi continues with this level of support for the game.
Finally, GRAW 2 is not the most stable title I've played. I experienced several nasty crashes to desktop. I remember distinctly this happening once when I mistakenly fired off a grenade launcher in close proximity of a wall I was facing, leading me to believe that we are most likely dealing with some memory leak issues, or something to that effect. In either case, I'm not sure whether the patches fix this problem in the single-player, but it's certainly there in the retail version. Also, make sure to have the latest graphics card drivers installed before you sit down to play.
And that's about it; in general, I would say that I like where the Ghost Recon series is going. In many ways, GRAW 2 is a step in the right direction even though the game, technically, may require more polish.
Intense action, great interface, level design, visuals;
AI glitches, several crashes to desktop, lots of backtracking cause of game's difficulty, campaign relatively short.
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