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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Game Review:Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2

A perfect combination of action and strategy. Enlistment is a must.

Thrilling previews and trailers of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 swept across various gaming websites weeks before the actual release of the game. I was eventually lured into getting the game, although Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 is the only other Ghost Recon game that I have played beside the first original Ghost Recon. Ghost Recon, to me, is a game which I dislike, so it was of no surprise that I felt held back when I actually decided to go out and buy the game a few days after its release. If I had any doubts about all the previous Ghost Recon games, they have been thrown out of the window by Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2. In a word, GRAW 2 is good.

General Keating, your commander, urges you to destroy some kind of nuke, while suddenly, the president shows up on your screen and offers you some encouragement. The music intensifies, and your teammates bark at you to get them moving. These are all one part of GRAW 2. The previous moment, you have been surveying the area through the UAV Cypher, some kind of air scout that you can control. All of a sudden, the enemy starts opening fire on you and your teammates and you are forced to take cover behind the walls. Those are another part of GRAW 2. In fact, the game does such an outstanding job of fusing both action and strategy together that the gameplay flows with smoothness and flawlessness. This would not have been possible without one of the greatest feature of GRAW 2, the Cross Com 2.0. Simply speaking, this handy feature allows you to control your friendly units, including soldiers, tanks, choppers and aircrafts from their view. It is intuitive, and most importantly, it does not disrupt the overall intensity of the game. Missions have some variety to offer as well. Although you will be fighting on foot for most part of the game, some missions are entirely chopper-based, which means that you will be on the helicopter controlling the gun and shooting the crap out of everything. The experience is satisfying, especially when you are engaging in a helicopter dogfight, or aiming at an enemy vehicle.

Needless the say, for action and strategy to work hand in hand, an intelligent, if not perfect, A.I. is certainly required. Fortunately, GRAW 2 fulfils the requirement with an enemy A.I. that knows what it should do at any particular time and place. The enemy A.I. makes full use of the cover system well, dodging when necessary, or they will sometimes attempt to move to another position so that they can have a better aim at you and your teammates. However, while the enemy A.I. lends some challenge to the game, friendly A.I. fails to live up to expectations. For example, when I ordered my teammates to regroup at my position after I had planted a C4 explosive on an enemy’s AA Flak Artillery, they still got stuck at the AA’s position and became injured when the AA exploded. Friendly A.I. also has the bad habit of running out into the open and taking enemy fire instead of utilizing the nearby cover. These are minor glitches that ruin an otherwise helpful friendly A.I. that does a fine job of killing enemies and providing distraction for you, although you will still have to finish up most of the job yourself.

Of course, amid all those tension, shooting and stuff, the graphics will never be missed, simply because they are just amazing. Everything is highly detailed and looks realistic. Explosions are magnificent, with massive smoke and fire making their appearance. The camera even does a good job of shaking to add more realism to the situation. At other times, the camera blurs to reflect the intensity. It definitely cannot be denied that GRAW 2 is one of the best looking games on the Xbox 360, on-par with last year’s hit Gears of War. Sound, like the visuals, is first-rate. I am surprised to find that grenade explosions in GRAW 2 sound exactly the same as in reality, a feat that few games have accomplished. In addition, the sound of the weapons firing is appropriate.

My only other complain with GRAW 2 besides the one on the behavior of the friendly A.I. is that the single-player campaign mode is one of the shortest I have ever encountered (and a little too easy). That being said, you will complete the single-player campaign within 6 to 8 hours. Perhaps that is when multiplayer comes into the picture. With 6 specially-designed co-op multiplayer campaigns and additional multiplayer maps, coupled with various modes, GRAW 2 is still going to be relevant even after you have completed the single-player campaign mode. Multiplayer holds lots of variety and greatly increases the replayability value of the game.

Final Comments
GRAW 2 is a game that does almost everything right. Action and strategy are fused together perfectly in the game, providing for one of the smoothest gameplay ever. Also, missions that are entirely chopper-based are exciting and satisfying. The enemy A.I. is clever, but the friendly A.I. falters a little. The visuals in GRAW 2 are amazing, and so is the sound. However, the single-player campaign is over too soon, but the buffet-like multiplayer compensates for the minimum single-player content. Overall, GRAW 2 is one game worth trying even if you do not like tactical shooters. The game is appropriately-paced, which means that is neither fast nor slow, making it suitable for everyone.

Overall score: 9.4/10

What’s good: Action and strategy combine perfectly, Cross Com 2.0 adds convenience to the control of friendly units, helicopter-based missions are exciting, enemy A.I. is brilliant, top-notch graphics and sound, great multiplayer variety

What’s not: Minor glitch that makes friendly A.I. get stuck in areas at times, single-player campaign is extremely short


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