Ghost Recon : Advanced Warfighter 2 PSP Review
When GRAW (or Ghost Recon 3 for those of you unaware) first appeared on Xbox 360, it debuted as a realistic tactical shooter with special effects to die for. Lots of bloom effects, smoke, sand, wonderfully atmospheric landscapes and realistic looking explosions. It was one of the initial titles that sold the 360 to people through its ‘not actual footage’ TV ads. When the second game arrived it was set within the very well realised Mexican metropolis of Juarez, and this detail was not lost in translation. It also featured a cross-com system which enabled a view of what your team could see, and allowed you to accurately plan your mission ahead.
Okay. Let’s stop now. The above is all well and good but it’s ultimately pointless. Little, if any of it has been retained for the PSP version. Although you are still in South America. So what’s gone? Well, for a start you’ve lost the squad based tactics that made the home console version so enjoyable. I’m unsure as to why this was omitted because I’m sure the PSP could have handled at least one additional unit to aid you in your mission. So, with your team gone we’re already left with a stock shooter that can be in first or third person depending what setting you choose. But it’s nothing you haven’t seen or done better on the PSP.
You are thrust into missions that either consists of sabotage, infiltration, escort or rescue and that’s about all you need to know. For controls, movement is via the ano’ nub, aiming done using the buttons, while the d-pad changes weapon selection and stance. For the most part this works well and you have an auto-aim function that’s on by default. The weapon selection is really annoying; you just want up and down right? Say you want C4 – you have to choose nades first, then pick C4 from a sub menu. Erm….why not have it from the main selection? A small detail but initially annoying. What’s more important is the gameplay itself and for the standard kill, crush and destroy missions it’s fine.
I was surprised and pleased to see the option for a first person mode – until I played it. Sadly the game’s level design sometimes make this view far to restrictive, and certainly in the jungles of South America where you spend much of your time, you’ll spend much time looking at trees and missing mission paths. But play in third person view and it’s rarely a problem. Enemy AI ranges from average to quite poor, with it at its best from a distance. AI takes cover or goes prone if shot at and it also reacts to your gunshots. What it can’t handle is if you go gung-ho. This amounts in much hilarity as the AI then runs about trying to find cover. Eventually it’ll kill you but you’ll have to give it some time. I think the AI uses the first person view and just gets lost looking at the trees.
The mission design is par for the course, and some sections are quite exciting having you have to reach a certain spot quickly to set up a trap for some moving trucks. One thing though…. why ask a player to plant C4 on a stationary truck, but then not let them do it on a moving one? In fact C4 can’t be planted anywhere. It must be on a tree or wall, or truck if it’s not moving. I’ve seen Rambo do this so I know it can be done.
Missions use a checkpoint structure which are fairly well spaced and each mission is broken down into about 3-4 maps, each loaded separately. Some missions have cut-scenes of a target to be taken out before you progress, nice, but then sometimes they occur in the middle of a fire fight. Certain escort missions pose yet more problems – the vehicle being escorted won’t stop for you. This is makes it kind of exciting as you have to run ahead and clear the way, but annoyingly, if you stand in front of the vehicle, yet more hilarity/frustration occurs as the AI doesn’t actually stop and promptly runs you over.
To the game’s credit, the Sikorsky Cypher UAV drone is available (yes! something DID make the port!). When in range of your soldier (sorry, Ghost), you can use it to plan the route ahead, and also drop grenades on soldiers or vehicles. It does work fairly well but requires you to be close or else you’ll lose communications. Sadly the tactical map, where you call on said drone, doesn’t give indication of the drone’s range. Artillery is also available as dictated by the mission, point to an area on the map (ideally populated by an enemy) and away you go. It’s usually reserved for the game’s bigger vehicles like tanks but can be used as you see fit. Another ‘casualty of conversion’ is the MULE, a small tank like thing that you could use to shield yourself in an attack and you could access to change or reload your weapons. It was very helpful too as you could direct it like the UAV. The good news is it has been replaced. By an ATM. I presume The Americans drop these things and send the enemy into utmost confusion. With the right pin number (its automatic – don’t worry) it’ll open and allow you access to your weapons. Sadly – being an ATM – it can’t be directed into battle so therefore provides no cover at all.
So lets move on….game’s graphics are functional for the most part. Certain helmet icons have been retained so you have red for bad AI, yellow for mission goals and blue for the weapons (cache) machines. The tutorial highlights the game has obvious fog when it shouldn’t really be there, and the jungle in the first stage initially looks awful with obvious tree lines, designed to make you feel claustrophobic. Thankfully things open up a bit later on and you find a world littered with lovely details like water reflections, Inca statues and mud puddles. But it must be said that when in the game’s town based environments, the buildings are nicely detailed but that fog-in rears its ugly head and not only that but the whole layout is very linear. I think the problem is the programmers have tried to port over the visual bloom and glow effects found in the home console version and add it to your player and his environment. It frankly adds little when the fog is so evident. The explosions too are very bland; just a big circle blob thing with bits coming out. Very PS1.
Another problem that occurs is the linearity in the levels. You sometimes get the option of going more then one route but we’re not talking cross-country here. One other great addition is a killcam. Killcams are great when you’re, say, mincing some poor soul with bullets and there’s blood spouting everywhere or there’s a rag doll engine in place. Well, in this, there’s not. No blood and no Ragdoll – so the killcam becomes a pointless idea really. It serves to highlight a good shot perhaps, but then your shots have to be fairly good else you won’t get very far. Sound is tinny, but again functional (the little muddy patches have their own sound which is always nice) but otherwise little else to say here. It’s a war game, you get gun sounds, the odd bird song, some Mexican shouting when you let rip and some sinister ‘world on your shoulders’ music.
One other major loss is that the multiplayer aspect is gone, bar for some Ad-hoc link which enables two people to play the campaign together. Deep joy. The multiplayer was key in the home console version and its loss only seems to serve more evidence that PSP multiplayer games aren’t in fashion right now. So to conclude then, the game does retain some elements from the home console version but sadly, they’re few and far between and what you’re left with just about works fine as average FPS.
This title has suffered much loss during its transition but there is just enough for a hardcore fan.