Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 ReviewCain Dornan
Its shorter, easier and plays very similar to last years outing. GRAW 2 arrives to offer up an experience that is very similar to last years outing, albeit offering a number of enhancements and changes to produce a game that plays better than the original. While it does offer up much of the same gameplay as last years outing, it does so without the number of niggling and unforgiving gameplay problems that caused many to curse and complain about last years often unforgiving experience. For better or worse, this outing is noticeably easier, with even the normal difficulty capable of being beaten quite comfortably. However, a change in the games difficulty isnt the only change with GRAW 2, as there are quite a few changes that work to provide an overall more satisfying and worthwhile experience.
The game picks up shortly after the first GRAW, where you once again assume the role of Captain Scott Mitchell as you direct your team through a series of missions taking part on both US and Mexican soil. Those damn rebels are continuing to cause trouble, and its your task to take them out and prevent any further mayhem from occurring. Throw in the danger of nuclear weapons, which are reportedly planned to be used to attack US soil, and the urgency level of your missions are ramped up just a little.
Like the original, the storyline in GRAW 2 doesnt offer a thoroughly deep and detailed storyline, instead choosing to serve up some bare-basic outlines that provide some reasoning behind each of the missions that you take on. You never learn about any of your squad members, or delve deep into the cause behind the rebel uprising or those involved. Instead, youre offered with a series of news clips that appear in your cross-com whilst in-game, offering the latest round of news. This is where most of the storyline stems from, so you rarely get to hear additional top-secret information regarding the war. While your superiors will readily bark orders at you, they offer little explanation apart from what is required of you. In some ways, this works well, as youll often be too busy in the middle of a gunfight to care about what youre being told.
Dont be mistaken; the game does offer a solid storyline that allows you to progress through the game smoothly without any confusion. However, we would have liked to have seen some more personality injected into the games background and storytelling, which could help to delve the player into the games world further as they would feel more apart of the action, and will actually care about how your teammates fare or the outcome of your actions play out.
As mentioned earlier, GRAW 2 features the same gameplay style and execution as the original, which is to be expected from a sequel. Youll find yourself partaking in missions that usually involve little more than moving from drop point to your target, eliminating hostiles along the way and making use of available cover and fellow units to defeat the enemy. The occasional solitary mission is included, where you must survive on your own without the aid of your three usual fellow soldiers. Youll also take control of various on-rails shooting sections, where youll master a machine gun on a helicopter as you mow down enemy strongholds or defend fellow US military units.
Youll also have your fair share of defensive missions, where you and your squad will need to hold a specific position against waves of enemies. These instances can prove to be quite intense, with heavy gunfire and rapidly advancing enemies putting on the pressure and making the whole situation feel far more realistic than what many other games have managed to portray thus far. One particular event comes to mind when youre awaiting an evac, only to be suddenly surrounded by incoming hostiles and having to fend them off until youre rushed into a passing armored vehicle.
Its all very well presented, and while there may not be a whole lot of variance between the missions that take place, the way the game is presented helps to make each mission feel new and fresh. With the addition of a solid arsenal of different weapons to use, all suited to the varying types of combat that youll endure, theres plenty of fun to be had its just a shame that the single player campaign isnt as long as wed have hoped, and some may argue that there needs to be more variance in the games missions.
One of the new additions to the gameplay is the Cross-Com 2.0 feature, which now allows you to see through the eyes of the units that youre in control with. Unlike in GRAW, which restricted you to doing so only through the view of a small in-picture box in the corner of the screen, GRAW 2 allows you to do so in full-screen simply with the tap of the button. Now, you can effectively use your units as scouts, allowing you to see the surroundings from their viewpoint, offering you some added tactical advantage. You can also issue move orders to your team while looking through the eyes of one of your units, allowing you to keep safe behind cover at one point and coordinate a flanking attack on enemy units.
The multiplayer mode also offers some new additions, although it largely plays the same as the original GRAW. Apart from the inclusion of a solid lineup of 18 maps, accompanied with the use of some 30 prototype weapons, GRAW 2 also incorporates a new respawn feature. If you get hit by something that wouldnt normally kill you, youll become incapacitated for a limited time, laying on the ground awaiting the attention of medical attention. If a team member is nearby, they can come to your aid by re-healing you, allowing you to return to your feet and continue the fight. If you feel youre unlikely to be saved, you can quickly skip to respawn with the tap of a button.
Theres a fair variety of game modes and options to choose from, many of which were included in the last game. There are some new additions, though, including a fully-fledged multiplayer co-op campaign mode that allows you to team up with a group of friends and take on a series of varying missions that are completely different to the single player campaign. While the missions on hand arent quite as enjoyable as the single player mode, it does make for some great times with a group of friends.
The multiplayer mode also offers the new Helicopter Hunt, which is an interesting variant from the usual lineup of game modes. This mode sees you shooting down helicopters, which will dodge fire and attack you also. Its not exactly an action-packed, addictive mode, so its unlikely youll spend much time with it if any at all.
GRAW was a visual masterpiece, and GRAW 2 is no exception. The game looks outstanding, complete with detailed and accurately animated character models, beautiful environments and stunning lighting effects. Soldiers, in particular the one you control, offer immense detail, looking and behaving real. The environments that you find yourself in also offer a great level of detail, complete with some truly realistic lighting and weather effects, which firmly concrete the GRAW series as one of the better looking games currently on the Xbox 360. While GRAW 2 does hold the upper hand over the original GRAW in terms of graphical beauty, there isnt a whole lot of difference between both games. Considering how good last years GRAW looked, though, theres nothing wrong with this.
The guns sound real, the explosions sound threatening, your footsteps are accurate, and the voice work is top notch. As with the games visuals, GRAW 2s sound work is of a high standard, helping to create a truly accurate and captivating experience that works well. The in-game banter of your fellow squad mates proves to be not only intelligent and relevant, but also helpful. If there are enemies hiding behind a red car, for example, theyll point this out for you. Also, theyll count down how many hostiles they can still see, giving you good knowledge of what youre dealing with if youre not in the immediate vicinity.
While GRAW 2 doesnt change the formula much from the original GRAW, this sequel includes enough new features and inclusions to make a great game even better. Its not going to make non-fans of the original into dedicated fanboys, but it does offer existing fans with another reason to gear-up and head back into battle for another round of tactical shooting goodness. While the single player campaign mode is disappointingly short, the online multiplayer mode should offer enough lifespan to keep you busy for quite some time. Well worth a purchase.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.