Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter Xbox 360 Review
The face of war has changed. Enemy lines blur and there is no longer a clear opponent. New enemies and new threats require a new type of warfare — a new type of soldier. Enter the Ghosts. In 2013, the U.S. Army will implement the Integrated Warfighter System evolving what we know as the modern soldier. IWS combines advanced weapon systems, satellite communication devices and enhanced survivability into one fully integrated combat system. The IWS program has been developed to meet these new threats head on. Now, it can be tested on the battlefield. Welcome to GRAW!
You Will Say GRAW
The story of GRAW centres on Capt. Scott Mitchell (the character which you have complete control over) and his selection of “Ghost” team mates who you can influence via commands from your controller. Your squad has been sent out to Mexico City in order to diffuse a highly tense situation involving the Canadian, American and Mexican governments and some rebels. The Canadian prime minister gets killed early on (what are Ubisoft hinting at?) and you and your Ghosts are challenged to infiltrate Mexico City, find the VIPs, and eliminate the rebel threat. While this story may not seem highly original, the way in which it is told is bordering on being truly next-gen.
When you first start the game you are tossed into a tutorial which explains how to play the game. Lots of care should be taken here to learn the unique way the game controls and how to use your HUD to your advantage. If you try and rush through this you will be swamped later on when the action gets tough as GRAW has very little in common with other games in the genre. After the informative tutorial mode you are tossed straight in the action and boy does the game look good, but more about that later for now let’s talk about how well the game plays.
As I said before you play a Captain Mitchell and you take on most of the other missions in the game along with three team mates at your command. At many times throughout the game you also command tanks, helicopters and other vehicles all via your HUD. You don’t actually jump in the vehicles yourself and drive them but rather influence where they go via the Heads Up Display. Some time when you are pinned down by rebel gunfire your only option will be to issue orders to a copter flying overhead to take out an enemy which would otherwise have surely killed you. From the moment you start to play it is quite easy to see that GRAW is all about tactics and using your team to your advantage rather than offering a one man run and gun; you versus the world experience.
It is disappointing to say that some of this control over your team is at times spoiled by slightly sloppy AI as they seem to get confused by some object in the environment. I have noticed that when they are ordered to a corner to fire upon the enemy they sometimes step out from cover into the open which can lead to instant death for them. This does not happen all the time and only some points in the game lead to this glitch happening but it can get annoying if you lose a team mate due to it. You also have the option to give first aid to a fallen team mate to resuscitate him if he is fallen but you must reach him within a certain time.
Well that’s enough about your slightly iffy team mates; what about you? Well, the control you have over you character is quite spectacular. Although most of the stuff has been done in other games, it seems like it has finally been done right in GRAW. Not only is the aforementioned HUD good for controlling your team mates, it is also essential for keeping you alive. You have the option to make your character kneel, go prone or stand via clicks of the analog stick. If you are running, with a click on the analog you can slide on your knees or dive to the ground. You can also lean up against a wall just by walking up to it. This addition may not sound spectacular but it frees up a button on the controller giving you more options for control. You can also peer around the wall to fire with just a small portion of your body sticking out which is a nice addition as well. If a gun has a scope you can peer through it, then you can click LT to hold your breath to steady your aim. All of the moves felt very instinctive and once you get the grasp of the unique controls (which should take about 30mins if this is your first Ghost Recon game) you should be taking it to the rebels without a second thought. But it has to be said a second thought is always a good option while playing GRAW.
The game forces you to think first and shoot second. Also all the missions take place in wide, open areas meaning death can always come from any angle so it is always the best to sneak up and check out your surroundings before running into the open which could lead to a very messy death on your part. The urge to keep the game realistic keeps going with the fact that there are no medikits available to use and you won’t find any weapons lying around in a store waiting for you to use. All extra weapons come from the rebels you have killed and at times you will get extra artillery from ammo drops coming from a friendly helicopter.
GRAW also breaks the mould of many other shooters by giving you the ability to track your objectives and team mates via a marking on your HUD. The result of this means you will never feel lost and end up wandering around wondering what to do next. To accompany this once an enemy’s position is revealed, he will be displayed in red on your HUD so you can always keep an eye on what’s happening. This adds a great deal to the game particularly when fighting snipers in buildings far away. GRAW is a fantastic change of pace from many other shooters out there and as a result can be labelled “next-gen” not just graphically but in terms of gameplay and presentation. The main story mode can be completed in about fourteen hours but there is always the incentive to play though it again as the objectives can be approached in a varying amount of different ways. GRAW may be a slow paced tactical shooter but it also feels very action orientated and never at any point feels boring.
GRAW also offers many options outside of the single-player campaign. The most impressive being 16-player online play over Xbox Live which offers standard Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes over the 10 maps that are included. The maps themselves are varied and cater for players that love to sneak but also have a few maps that will lead to a faster paced game. Not only is there versus play, there are also excellent cooperative campaigns that can be played locally or online for up to 16 players (yes 16!!) players
Now onto those graphics we mentioned earlier and they are simply spectacular. Even though GRAW is set in a huge wide open city the game is still highly detailed with towering skyscrapers, breakable glass, foliage, rising dust and many other awe inspiring sights on show around every turn. GRAW is the best looking game on the 360 right now bar none. The lighting in the game adds even more to the presentation as it makes everything in the game seem very life-like rather than having characters that look like they were moulded from plastic. For once a game actually succeeds in looking real. Even in close up shots it is hard to find a fault with any of the character or environments on show. The only criticism I can think of (and I am been picky with this) is that even though you are battling though a city there are little to no residents to be seen. The graphics will be of course improved when viewed on a HDTV but there in nothing wrong with them when viewed on a regular ole set either
In terms of sound, GRAW is simply amazing. First off there are the sound effects and Red Storm should get big 10 out of 10 for effort for the work they put in here. There is one point in the game where some big object blows up (I mean very big) and if you have a 5.1 system set up you will be literally blown out of your seat. When it happened to me I instinctively recoiled to huddle up before I realised what I was doing. That explosion is one of the bigger moments in the game but all of the other minor moments are expertly catered for as well. If a helicopter is about to land on the ground you can hear the litter being pushed across the ground by the wind. When you step out of the helicopter you can hear the sound shift in tone and direction which is a nice touch. Footsteps also change depending on what ground you walk on. Then there are the guns; and boy do each of them pack a wallop. Snipers have that distinctive “ping” that real snipers have and they don’t just sound like the overpowered 9mm you’ve grown to expect from other games. You can almost hear the rattle of the gun shaking if you chose to use one of the SMGs available, then finally there are the RPGs which could blow your ears drums out if you are not careful. The sound effects are THAT loud and it is THAT lifelike. You may need a 5.1 system to appreciate them to their full extent but if you ever needed a reason to buy one this is it! Of course let’s not forget the voice acting and the music which are both of the same high calibre with some nice epic tunes blasting though your speakers at many moments throughout the game.
Simply put it’s a game no 360 owner should be without. The single player game is a very memorable experience. I would go as far to say that it will be probably be talked about for years to come with people fondly recalling moments in the game like they did with Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Metal Gear Solid and other truly big name titles. The multiplayer game also has loads of differing options to keep it entertaining for many weeks down the line. If you are a fan of tactical/military shooters you need this game, if not then you owe it to yourself to check the game out as it could change your mind and make you fall in love with the genre. If that’s not enough for you they just think of how funny an acronym GRAW is, that alone should peak your interest in the title.
9.7 out of 10