Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I last reviewed the first Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Jim and I have spent a few nights over the past 12 months shooting the crap out of…well, the scenery mostly, but let’s move on. It was, until the release of Gears of War, regarded as the best shoot-em-up on Live (not too hard seeing as Call of Duty 2 was the only other challenger), and has even slipped behind Rainbow Six: Vegas in the most played charts. After a few weeks in the company of the sequel however, I’m pretty confident that Mr Clancy’s Ghost Recon franchise will be sitting pretty at the top of the pile once more.
If you thought the original graphics were something, this time round it looks so much sweeter. Trees bend in the wind, grass blows about and debris flies as surfaces are belted with bullets and shrapnel. You can now also shoot through thin surfaces, with larger calibre rounds doing more damage penetrating tougher materials. It’s now possible to simply rip through sandbags and wooden huts without the need to endanger the crew with infiltration, and of course this applies to you as well. There’s nothing worse than taking cover to reload only to find the bullets shooting through at you. There’s also a cool little cosmetic addition that you’ll notice once then forget all about – when moving, the screen wobbles slightly side to side to mimic movement as you walk with the weight shifting from one foot to the other. It’s something you’ll showing to mates when they’re round for beer and the girlfriends are in the kitchen doing what girlfriends do best.
The storyline follows the tale of Latin America invading Mexico to try and launch an attack on the United States, and it’s your guys that are pushed into the desert to fight back. Levels are generally desert based but vary from one scenario to another. One minutes you’ll be in a deserted town with orders to rid it of hostiles, other times you’ll be venturing through canyons to locate and destroy weapons and tactical positions. What differs from the original game is how you’re kept in the action. Before, you completed a mission and went back to the briefing screen. Now you’re kept out on the front line, whisked away by helicopter or another means of transport after success to your next port of call, and then choose team mates and weapons before entering the next area. It’s this sort of continuous action that keeps you hooked before you realise that it’s the early hours, the girlfriend is in bed and the dog has long since forgotten about being fed.
The gameplay is virtually the same as you clear one area to the next with varying degrees of difficulty, only I’d say that Ghost Recon seems to have taken a leaf from the book of Rainbow Six; storyline twists and turns are far more dramatic and have more of an affect on the way you play the game than before. Squad members have more personality this time round so you tend to bond with them more, making life or death situations that little more frantic. The squad orders are also pretty cool as it’s quite possible to let them do the dirty work as you plot their path through the course of a level, and with the AI being as smart as smart can be you’ll rarely have to step in and take matters into your own hands, unless you want to of course.
Online is as fantastic as ever and the option to choose any team or solo games makes jumping straight into a game much easier. Us Thunderbolters are yet to have a match amongst ourselves but I’ve been making the most of my days off by playing GRAW 2 online instead of reviewing games that urgently need reviewing (it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it) and it’s quite possible the most fun I’ve had since the days of Rainbow Six: Black Arrow back on the original Xbox.
If you enjoyed the first title them this’ll be right up your street. The graphics are incredibly fantastic and you’ll be shooting South Americans right up until Bungie release Halo 3 in the autumn.