Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter Review
PIV 2000, 1GB RAM, 5GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: May 09, 06
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After Rainbow Six: Lockdown and SWAT 4: Stetchkov Syndicate, I had the opportunity to check out the PC version of Ubisoft's title, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (GRAW). Well, this is the third tactical shooter I've played this year for what its worth. GRAW was a huge success on the Xbox 360, with challenging gameplay, ample content and an impressive range of next-generation visual effects (coupled with excellent physics). In regards to the Xbox 360 version, the game was undeniably worth the wait and it managed to utilize the true potential of Microsoft's gaming platform. Initially, we were hoping that the PC version would have a similar impact and that Ubi would create a decent enough port to what was, apparently, an excellent shooter with a memorable atmosphere.
Let's blow up Nokia's HQ?
Sit tight, and hope for a miracle.
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter doesn't bother players with any elaborate and intricate story telling. Instead, it allows you to jump into action right off the bat. Troops listen to mission briefings in the chopper as they are transported to the appropriate destination. Mission objectives, of course, tend to change due to any unforeseen events that frequently occur on the battlefield. Appropriately enough, the players receive video transmissions almost instantly with essential information to help them achieve their goal. This aspect helps set the right pace of single-player missions and it goes really well with the game's ambiance.
The game puts players into the shoes of Captain Scott Mitchell, whose main responsibility is to lead his squad of highly trained light infantry troops and to ensure the safety of important US, Canadian and Mexican officials. The US President, the Canadian Prime Minister and the Mexican President have met in Mexico City to sign the NAJSA (North American Joint Security Agreement). Sadly, things went tits-up, when the summit got interrupted by an army of Mexican rebels. So, instead of being at the meeting, the US President wound up in enemy hands. Your top priority is to track down and secure all VIP's, simultaneously taking away crucial enemy targets along the way.
First of all, I must warn you that in order to enjoy GRAW in all its visual splendor, you're gonna have to install the game on a high-end rig. And when I say high-end, I mean HIGH-end! The saddest part is that players with mid-range rigs aren't even allowed to use certain graphical features. For instance, if your GPU has anything less than 512MB of virtual memory, you won't be able to activate the high-textures option. Although the game looks just fine on medium settings, we've experienced numerous bugs during the gameplay, causing occasional system crashes (this was rare, but still worth mentioning). To make the matter even worse, GRAW will annoy players with unexpected frame rate issues for no apparent reason. This occurred even when we were running the game in low res (800*600). Every so often, the experience was painfully similar to well-known hardware hogs such as, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which suffered from severe memory leaks and a consequential decrease in performance.
For the present, we'll continue down the road of shortcomings. This game is a tactical shooter and as such it most definitely requires top-notch AI behavior. To be honest, we weren't all that delighted with enemy intelligence as well as the behavior of our own troops. Fair enough, squadmates can take care of themselves and are quite capable of taking on multiple opponents on their own. Unfortunately, sometimes they simply fail to respond to orders, in which case you could easily wind up dead... without anybody to watch your back, that is. Enemies often act according to your movement, which means their reactions are scripted for the most part. Then again, each opposing combatant is extremely accurate, even from a great distance, which sort of increases the challenge.
The aforementioned issues shouldn't necessarily discourage you from playing this game. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter boasts many qualities that make it an enjoyable and challenging ride. It's obvious that plenty of thought and patience was invested into creating the single-player campaign, which can be exciting and lengthy enough even for experienced gamers. Mission goals will vary as you go along, and there's a range of additional duties you need to complete before you can expect to be extracted by chopper. In addition to that, players may choose from a reasonable collection of firearms before they head off into the fray. It's also advisable to attach any available weapon improvements, in order to maximize the efficiency of your favorite firearm.
I'm not going in there. It's too dangerous.
There goes the US Embassy. So much for diplomacy.
The coolest aspect of the game is that it provides a neat mix of FPS action and real-time on the spot tactics. For example, players are welcomed to use satellite reconnaissance as often as they like. Believe me, viewing the situation from above in real-time has many advantages. Apart from being able to track the movement of enemy troops and vehicles, it also allows you to set waypoints for teammates and assign them to take out specific targets. From our experience, this approach works perfectly, both in single-player and in multiplayer. Tactical opportunities are ample and you can choose to attack your enemies from a variety of angles and different paths.
The multiplayer mode allows up to 32 players online, and offers cooperative play as well as the so-called domination mode. In all, the multiplayer can be a pleasing experience, but, in truth, we rarely had a proper chance to enjoy it, due a number of irritating bugs that are plaguing this segment of the game. It may take you forever to log onto a user-based server and even then you won't find a lot of people playing (well, that's the way it was for us anyways). Also, Ubi still hasn't established a dedicated server for GRAW, so you might want hold on a bit before delving deeper into online multiplayer matches.
Visuals, audio, exciting and challenging missions, reasonably lengthy single-player campaign, decent multiplayer...
... if you manage to log on successfully to a game, numerous bugs in MP mode, overall GRAW sometimes puts players through numerous intolerable technical issues, on top of a few drawbacks in AI behavior patterns in single-player.