Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
Although it was announced as launch game for X360, we’ve had to wait quite a while for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter as Ubisoft kept pushing it back. However, by now a lot of people have gotten their next-gen console and they’ll all be able to enjoy this top game.
In this new Ghost Recon episode you take on the clothes of Scott Mitchell, a Ghost. Not one that roams around with chains at night but an F16 with two feet! You’ll have to complete your military assignments in Mexico City during a 10 hour singleplayer campaign that will cluster you to the screen. And take that literally as tension, plot twists, drama, spectacular explosions and firefights are more than present. Imagine a combination of Black Hawk Down, Splinter Cell, Full Spectrum Warrior and some intense shooter, added with a slight futuristic sauce and you know what to expect: heavy, brutal action!
Mexico City looks fantastic and plays a leading role in the game. It looks like the whole town is present in-game and especially the sequences where you get flow to and from the action with a helicopter nicely add to the atmosphere. Once you’re on the ground (“We Were Soldiers” anyone?) GRAW will suck you up in its never-ending intense action.
You hardly get the time to enjoy the razor sharp textures, beautiful level design, immensely beautiful architecture (I really hated the fact I couldn’t keep staring at it) and incredibly lighting effects and color filters. The sun will blind you, the heat rises from the asphalt and dust gets in your nose as choppers circle around your head. Then I didn’t even mention the truly magnificent models that will make you step closer to your HDTV. We haven’t seen better on X360 qua graphics yet.
The makers also use this surrounding very good. Although you only get to pass through a part of town during a mission, there’s always different roads and means to find and complete your objectives and targets. You can evade blockades or attack them from the side and more than once you get to climb or access buildings, which enhances again the realism. On top of that, the enemy will not hesitate to hide on a balcony or snipe from the top of a building. Believe me that you’ll become an ace in navigating safely through streets and alleys.
The fantastic and innovating controls are very welcome. Every car, wall of object can be used to take cover through a simple ‘push’ with your stick. Equally simple you then look around a corner to fire a couple of rounds. Also the zooming, laying, crawling and giving orders is after some minutes of getting used to a second a nature.
You’ll need these orders to use your teammates (three in total which you control together) and some supporting units in a good way. Your fellow Ghost units can be ordered to attack or do recon, recalled and controlled in a very efficient way to be sent ahead. Their AI is probably the biggest downpoint of the entire game, especially as they leave cover too often when being shot at. After a while you start taking this into account so that it never really spoils the fun though.
As said you don’t only have the three Ghosts but at times also APC’s, tanks, attack choppers or recon planes. These are given on a sporadic base but are ideal to overcome tight situations. Through a little TV-image in your HUD you can track their movements and although they always stay on some sort of “rail” (you can only send them forward or backwards and point out targets through your map) it’s a real joy to get to work with them and they’re an excellent addition to the work with your own character. The HUD is by the way excellent, it starts to be disturbed when you weaken, you get mission updates in it (anyone remember Wing Commander?) and friend and foe are clearly pointed out.
For those not accustomed with the typical gameplay of the series we would like to point out that this is indeed a tactical shooter. You won’t be running and jumping around like some idiot but rather progress step by step and take cover where you can. One bullet can be the end of your career or that of your colleagues. Luckily you have a minute the time to reanimate one of your colleagues if they get shot.
Exploring the surroundings now and then, making smart use of your assets and taking into account that there are no health packs (!) is the idea. With some checkpoints your character will get healed again, but you can choose these moments yourself. It may be clear that this game is indeed a challenge, even on normal difficulty degree.
We already spoke about the graphics but also the sound deserves its own line. All effects, especially those of weapons, sound really sharp and powerful. Put this on your surround system and within no time the neighbours will come ringing your bell. Especially when the game unleashes a surprising, loud explosion onto you, you’ll jump from your seat. Extremely spectacular! Also the music is alright, with some known and some unknown tracks that are played before, after and during important parts of missions. A somewhat more subtle in- and outro would have been welcome but that’s only splitting hairs.
Once you’ve finished the singleplayer, there’s quite a lot of content present in the multiplayer modes where you can play with up to 16 people through XBox Live. You get 10 maps, the classic modes (CTF, DM) and a very good co-op option. Especially that last one could appeal to me, but seeing the success of the game online you’ll be busy plenty of hours with the multiplayer.
For those that didn’t get it yet: you just have to get this Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter! Its impressive, challenging and in the meantime very accessible gameplay in both single- and multiplayer and the beautiful graphics and music will deliver memorable moments. For who has an Xbox360 this is a must, and who doesn’t have one yet this tactical shooter gives a strong reason to get one.