Product Type: Ubisoft Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... is also solid enough that should you forget to give out certain commands, your squad mates will react appropriately to incoming enemy fire,... more
Do you believe in Ghosts?
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Stunt 101
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Sublime tactical gameplay, stunning visuals, quality multiplayer, some incredible moments.
Disadvantages: Short single player campaign, very similar to the first GRAW, still slightly annoying controls.
Back in early 2006, barely after the Xbox 360 had been released, Ubisoft released their first Tom Clancy game on the next-generation system-Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (shortened GRAW, thankfully). While it was mediocre on the PS2, old Xbox and slightly above average on the PC, the Xbox 360 was called 'the first true next-gen game' because of not only its stunning graphics and advanced use of the system, but also because it was a huge revolution on the series. It received Bafta awards because it was so good, and that's quite special. One of the first games I bought for my 360 in September last year, GRAW is still one of my favourite games even after so long of playing it. With the recently released Legacy Edition of GRAW2 available, I decided to buy GRAW2 to see whether the sequel was worth the quality of the first game. Does it live up to its predecessors high standards?
Following on from the first game, GRAW2 puts you back into the role of Scott Mitchell who in the first game risked life and limb against Rebels in Mexico who threatened the life of multiple presidents of, well, multiple countries. Now, GRAW2 has a civil war erupting in Mexico again and nuclear weapons are abounding in another predictable terrorist plot that stinks of Rainbow Six Vegas. The difference here is that there are more than a few fantastic moments. One level has Scott Mitchell in danger of death, with his cross-com knocked off his head, as he fights to evacuate after being ambushed. It was one of the most enjoyable gaming sections I played in any Tom Clancy game because not only were it so awesome, it was where the game felt as if a plot mattered. The ending of GRAW2 was also quite moving.
The main issue I had with the first game was that the controls, in my opinion, felt a bit fiddly to me and as such took some of my enjoyment out of the game. For example, I found the cover system, while good enough to compete with the cover system's like Tom Clancy 's own Rainbow Six Vegas, was a bit stodgy at times and GRAW2 uses the same system. Basically, you can literally walk up to cover and stick to it. The problems like in aiming from cover, as sometimes you have to adjust your position to be able to aim from cover, which is annoying. Also, leaving cover is a bit awkward as sometimes it takes too long to remove you from cover. Other issues with the controls come mostly in the form of chosing your weapon as it requires you to not only hold down a button, but somehow work your hand to select a weapon using the D-Pad. The rest of the controls are great, though. Movement and shooting is easy, and the other control mappings are natural and solid. Aside from some issues, the controls are good.
GRAW 2 is a third-person shooter with squad commands and vehicle sections. The game plays very similar to the first game. The single player campaign plays very similar to the first game. You go through around 13 levels which go from on-foot shooting to sections where you are gunning from a helicopter turret. Like before, objectives are constantly changing as you play through missions. For example, one level has you fighting through the missions as you'd normally would, but as you're about to evacuate in the chopper, it is shot down and you must defend it from rebels, rather than the earlier plan of escaping. It might sound like lengthening gameplay, but it keeps you on your toes and adds a lot of tension. Constant surprises keep you playing and it shakes up the game immensely. The game is slightly non-linear in that you sometimes get choice to go in a different direction, but it never dramatically affects the gameplay.
Like Gears of War, Rainbow Six Vegas and Dark Sector, GRAW2s shooting consists of the cover-based system. Basically, you head to cover, pop out and shoot the enemies and when they fire back, take cover. You can choose not to use cover, but you'll probably end up dying because not using cover means leaving yourself open to headshots which enemies are likely to achieve, especially if you are close to an enemy. An issue with the first game (or more what made it loved and hated) was its steep learning curve. Some of the missions (especially ones where you were a Lone Wolf) were punishing and leaving yourself open would get you killed instantly. GRAW2 is much lighter on challenge, especially on the new easy setting. You can take a few bullets before dying, enemies aren't as vicious as the first game and there are few missions where you must be a lone wolf, and even these missions are gentler. Plus, the addition of a medic means you won't be going into gunfights with low health.
GRAW2 boasts tons of weapons, each with their own rate of fire, accuracy and amount of ammo. There are assault rifle, sniper rifles, shotguns and lots more. The weapons include the Rx4 Storm Rifle, 36k Carbine, the M9 and many, many more. I think the count is around 60, not including the downloadable pack adding more. The cool thing about these weapons is that they are mostly next-generation weapons, which mean you are holding prototype weapons. This and the cross-com gave GRAW and give GRAW2 a slightly futuristic feel, though not sci-fi like The Terminator or something likes that. The weapons all feel right, and just as you love one weapon you get introduced to another one which you love. It's incredible how cool the weapons are in GRAW2.
You also have control of a squad of three Ghosts on most missions. The A.I. in the previous game was a bit suspect on the team side of things, but here it's slightly improved. Their awareness level has increased, as if they happen to spot enemies before you then they will alarm you to their position, as well as other details such as how many enemies there are in the area and once you kill enemies how many remain. You still have to do most of the killing yourself, but they aren't stupid like the previous game where they sometimes ran into open air. You also get command of a Tank, Air Support and more. Using these supports is easy because you simply aim at the enemy and press an arrow on the D-Pad. They usually follow your commands on first request, though there were the odd occasions where the tank wouldn't move because the Ghosts were in the way (never thought I'd say that!).
There are also improvements to the Cross-Com introduced in the previous game. The new HUD which identified enemies, friendly allies, vehicles and more-the cross com was an impressive piece of technology which added a layer of depth to GRAW. The cross-com has several improvements in GRAW2, including looking into a camera on your Ghost teammates as well as your other support, and you can also use the UAV (the flying camera) to give commands to your squad while you're in the perspective of it, which means more tactical assistance and gives you more freedom for movement. This saves you from not only having to use the map to move squad far, but also means you have a more detailed look over the battlefield. The perspective of your support also gives you more view of the battlefield and makes it easier to command them.
The multiplayer is what makes GRAW2 great though. There is either competitive or co-operative. Let's start with co-op gaming. There is a six mission co-operative campaign available for 16 player co-op, which is awesome. There is also some downloadable co-op maps as well, adding even more value for money in terms of content. The plot in the co-op campaign basically follows a separate team of ghosts as they try to take out more Mexican Rebels. The cool thing about co-op is that rather than simply killing everyone, missions require dynamic teamwork and co-operation. For example, one level requires the team to split up and take down two radio towers at the same time or risk being ambushed by reinforcements. The co-op is excellent, with the highest count ever meaning that it is huge.
The competitive modes allow sixteen players in deathmatch, team deathmatch or objective based modes. The modes include territory, which is where you must capture and hold zones, objectives where you must complete more objectives than the other team and elimination is where you must simply kill everyone. There is also team battle and team mission, where you have zone-type games with A.I. support and Team mission is where you must achieve objectives as your team advances. You can also change many rules of modes and even build your custom game mode and show it off on Xbox Live. Even Call of Duty 4 doesn't have that technically. There are some improvements to the multiplayer, including bigger and better maps as well as better graphics on the multiplayer side. While you still can't take cover, multiplayer and co-op is a highlight and a rival to Call of Duty 4. It's quite similar to the first game, but why fix what isn't broken?
GRAW2 is rated 16+ for violence. I didn't find it particularly offensive-there is no gore and it's not like you're shooting innocents or anything like that. Besides, it's a bit unrealistic as Mexico and American haven't fought for years. There's also some language but I didn't find anything here that is upsetting in terms of content.
The first GRAW game looked incredible-it looks better than a majority of games released these days, even though it was released months into the release of the system. It was one of the first games to make use of the system to its limit yet provide a smooth experience. GRAW2 looks quite similar to the first game, with detailed character models, brilliant lighting, fantastic explosions and impressive environments. What's great is how all the elements come together, as watching the beautiful sun drop down into the sunset and the lighting changes depending on the time of day-it just stuns. There are some visual refinements as well. Some of the weird glitches from the first game aren't apparent in the sequel, like when Scott went into some weird animations and minor slowdown. That said, it's hard not to notice how similar GRAW2 looks to the first game. It's impressive, but not as striking as the first game.
GRAW2 sounds excellent. While the voice acting can be a little bit on the cheesy side at times, and some of the Mexicans have dreadful accents, but the rest of the sound is top-tier. As you move Scott around the battlefield, all his equipment clunks about and his foot movement sounds realistic. The shot of a sniper rifle as it whooshes through the air and goes through someone's skull is a sound you will love to hear again and again. Most of the weapons sound great, especially the Zeus when it crashes into the ground and explodes-it will ring your ears to the core. The music in GRAW2 sounds similar to the first game, but that's not a bad thing at all. The music in GRAW2 is excellent, mixing blood pumping orchestral skills with interesting techno tunes which make for a quality music experience, and overall, the sound is fantastic.
-(The Replay Value)-
The replay value of GRAW2 is high. With the single player, multiplayer and co-operative modes then you are guaranteed to get a lot of mileage out of the game. Even if you happen to not have Xbox Live then you can still invite three friends around and do some action via split-screen. If it also happens that you have no friends, then you'll replay the awesome single-player campaign a couple of times on the harder difficulties. There are also 60 achievements (including the new achievements from Downloadable Content) worth 1250 points which are rewarded for completing co-op missions perfectly (without dying I assume), completing the single player chapters on the game's three difficulties and doing well in multiplayer. If you want even more value, you can buy the Legacy edition which has multiplayer maps, co-op missions and the achievements. The only niggle is that the single player campaign is a bit short, though you will probably replay it.
-(The Ending Comments)-
Much like the recent Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 changes little from its predecessor. The gameplay is very similar, and while the first GRAW was a revolutionary title, the issues like slightly fiddly controls have not been rectified in its sequel. However, things like improved visuals, a gentler learning curve and a slightly less cluttered HUD mean that there are some improvements to the sequel. And other great aspects like a terrific (though sadly short) single player campaign, high quality sound and some incredible moments all make this a quality sequel, even if little has changed from the first game. And if you happen to buy the Legacy version of GRAW2, you're also getting some of the best multiplayer on the console too, though that too is similar to the first game. GRAW2 is some of the best tactical gameplay on the system, just like its predecessor.
-(The Extra Info)-
This was published by Ubisoft and developed by Ubisoft Paris and Red Storm Entertainment.
This was released on March 9th, 2007 and is also on PC, PS3 and PSP. A Wii version is in development.
This is available from Amazon for £30.98 (standard edition) or £24.48 (Legacy Edition).
Summary: A great, if familiar, sequel to a top-tier launch title.
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