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Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter

Score: 96%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer:
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 16 (16 Online)
Genre: Third Person Shooter/ Squad-Based/ Action


Graphics & Sound:

When it comes to Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter’s presentation, it is all about details. Nearly every little visual detail has been included in each section of the game, from heat haze to the tiny little words found on posted signs. Even several notable landmarks make it into the game’s version of Mexico City. The only noticeable flaw, if it can be called one, is that the lighting is a little too perfect, leading to blinding glare problems. Also, for being one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City feels rather barren.

A shaky, over-the-shoulder camera view completes the experience and, when combined with the tactical screens that appear on your HUD, really sell the experience that you’re an advanced solider.

Audio is just as sharp. Gunfire is spot on, explosions have just the right amount of impact… you name it, GR:AW does it. Voice work is delivered with just the right amount of impact and even manages to, at least on some level, make you care about what’s going on. For example, one of the first missions had me running through the city to meet a contact. Things go wrong, and all hell breaks out over the radio. The chopper pilot desperately radios for an update on the contact’s location while he radios panicked, sporadic clues to what is going on between bouts of static…


Gameplay:

For the most part, GR:AW follows the same basic gameplay as past games in the Ghost Recon series. You play as Scott Mitchell, captain of the US’s elite Special Forces outfit, the Ghosts. During a summit in Mexico City, a group of rebels attack, leaving the Canadian Prime Minister dead and the Presidents of Mexico and the United States missing. It is your job to lead the Ghosts through a variety of missions in the city, with the ultimate goal of rescuing the two leaders and putting a stop to the insurgency. On paper, most missions feel rather generic, though presentation and smart design help to make these otherwise mundane missions exciting.

Mexico City is massive and missions will often require you to cover whole city blocks. Before each mission, an arrow on your HUD will indicate where you need to go. From here, you are free to find your own way to that location. You are not given complete freedom since you will run into a few borders, but for the most part, you never feel like you’re limited.

The numerous paths through missions work against you as much as they help you. At any time, enemies can pop up from rooftops or alleyways, requiring you to make extensive use of cover and slow pacing. Other instruments, like a UAV (a floating recon robot) and cameras mounted on the helmets of your squad, are also a big help while navigating the streets of Mexico City. Using the UAV is particularly helpful thanks to the bird’s eye view it gives you. After performing a fly-by of the area, it will mark enemies and goals on your HUD’s map. Even with the advantage, which does make some situations easy, you have to stay on your toes due to ambushes that will pop up just when you begin to feel comfortable.

Outside the single-player campaign, GR:AW offers a fun online experience. Multiplayer modes range from Deathmatch and Capture the Flag to an amazingly fun Co-op mode. About ten maps are included for multiplayer matches while Co-op features four specially designed missions.


Difficulty:

Ghost Recon has never been a series that anyone can just pick up and play. And, while Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter makes a number of fantastic improvements to help make the game a little friendlier, it still isn’t something anyone could get into. This is due in large part to the mentality required while playing. If you want to just run around and shoot everything, this isn’t your game; instead, you need to think ahead (sometimes two or three moves ahead) in order to get anywhere. A.I. ranges from brilliant to dull; at times it will think three moves ahead, while at other times it is three moves behind.

Game Mechanics:

Squad members are controlled as a group and are generally pretty smart about following your orders efficiently. Issuing commands is basic and doesn’t take too long to pick up on. Easy commands are, however, only half the battle since you will still have to think before acting. A.I. is competent and will usually do its best to get into a safe spot, but there are still moments where they will pull some sort of boneheaded move that requires you to stop what you’re doing to either order someone to give them medical aid or do it yourself. This is especially common when it comes to handling corners, so you’ll want to keep an eye on your squad.

Squad command may have issues, but the number of things you can make your own soldier do is nothing short of impressive. As with past games in the series, nearly every button on the controller is used in some fashion, with one or two pulling double duty. Even veteran Ghosts will want to go through the training scenario as the scheme has been streamlined a bit in some areas. Once you learn the basics, it becomes almost intuitive.

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter is as close as any game has come to realizing Peter Moore’s “lucid dream” for the Xbox 360. It combines impressive visuals with top-notch gameplay, creating an experience that is nothing short of mind-blowing.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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