After the jaw dropping experience that greeted gamers in the form of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfigher (GRAW), the second installment of the game had a lot to live up to upon its release. After the great experience I had with the original, this game was one of my most anticipated titles. So this begs the question: did Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 deliver?
The games story continues to take place in 2013, just 24 hours after the events from Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, and places you just south of the United States border. The story is based on a conflict between a Mexican rebel group called the Mexican loyalists, and the U.S. Army, across a 72 hour war fuelled span.
GRAW 2 will suck you in straight from the beginning with the return of the addictive gameplay that Ubisoft showcased in the original, but this time they improved it by making the movement have a bit more pace and feel a little less clunky. The game also introduces some new features to assist you on the battlefield. The first new addition being the ‘Drone’ this handy device helps you scope out the upcoming environments for hostile positions, this feature is then joined by the ‘Mule’ which is a handy little vehicle that allows you swap weapons for a different plan of action depending on what lays ahead. Don’t worry, these new features are only made available to you the player at set points in the game, so the experience isn’t too easy.
These two new features that Ubisoft added mean that the gameplay is varied throughout the game, and also adds a little extra from the original experience. Other than these new features the gameplay is the same from the original; but why change something that isn’t broken?
Once again the cover system is essential to the gameplay and the most effective way to complete the campaign mode; this combined with the importance of the returning cross-com system can be used to devastating effect. The return of the cross-com system brings some slight improvements to the feature, you will find the cross-com system in Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 a lot easier to get the hang of and use. Putting all these features together creates the perfect setting for the games strongest gameplay point the gun fights. The game places you in some truly epic gun fights, and makes you think quickly and tactically to get through the fights alive. At some points you will honestly think to yourself ‘how am I meant to make it through this fight’, due to the sheer amount of hostiles you are faced with.
Ubisoft made the tactical approach to the game a massive part of the gameplay, you have to think about every move you make because if you move into clear sight of the enemy they are deadly accurate; so you have to move with caution if there is a sniper in the near vicinity, because if they spot you in the open, say good night. The snipers will go for a headshot, and there is a 90% chance of it being a successful hit.
Ubisoft has also made a slight improvement in the visuals compared to the original; which is always expected as the company gets more used to the engines they are working with. As a result, the visuals they deliver are breathtaking. The detail in every aspect of the game is high quality and well rendered. In the past games with a lot of detail cause the games to have a poor draw distance, but some how Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 has found the middle ground and managed to make both of these impressive. You will notice how impressive the draw rate is the mostwhile taking part in the helicopter sections of the game. Visually these sections will blow you away, on during your first experience you might even find yourself distracted just taking in the view, only to be brought back to reality by the sound of your helicopter being hit by a bullet.
The visuals help a lot in improving the games most impressive aspect, the gameplay. These two mixed elements create some of the most breath taking and epic battles you will ever encounter on a game; making the game more of a modern masterpiece.
One of the most epic battles that really put this point across is when you take on soldiers in a close quarter combat area, and then the experience is suddenly lit up when a helicopter gets involved and start to cause multiple explosions within the small area this fire fight is occupying.
Just when you think can this game do anything to make the experience any better? The sound brings another really strong aspect of the game, something that makes it a much more enjoyable experience. Ubisoft has also put some great work in with the voice acting in the game.
Then the main feature of the sound comes into play, the sound of the battles that you take part in through out the game. It is clear from the first sound of gunfire to a subsequent cease fire that Ubisoft has put a lot of hard work into the sounds of war. Each gun has its own attributes and has the correct sound attached to them, so the bigger the gun the bigger the sound it makes, the smaller the gun the smaller the sound it makes. Bringing in the attachments like the silencer having a big effect of the sounds from the guns, makes it even more clear that a lot of work has been put into making the experience for the player fantastic. Mix this exceptional use of gun fire noises to the clear sound the environment taking a pounding, and you then have an emotional experience.
Ubisoft has also thrown in a batch of sounds for each enemy you fight, so throughout the battles expect to hear the rebels shout at you, or to each other. This is also joined by the sound of the vehicles, so you will know when you are about to take on an area that includes helicopters and tanks; take this as a warning to find some cover as soon as possible, or else the outcome will be certain death.
Ubisoft made good use of background music, as the music that plays is a really important part in setting the mode and emotion of the battle you are facing; which enhances the feeling you get while playing the game.
So the single player is an essential experience for many a gamer, but what does Ubisoft offer in regards to multiplayer? Now this is were the game can suffer, but don’t let me put you off because the multiplayer is a strong and enjoyable experience. However, it just can not compete with the other great online modes from other titles.
The game takes the same game modes from the original and then adds a few extras into the mix. For example a new mode called Objective; where the name says it all, you are given certain objectives to win.
Sometimes you will find yourself been disconnected from the game and/or server randomly, which can ruin a good night of gaming. Also another let down is the online mode can feel a bit boring at times, after the single player mode sets up some epic battles. So although the games multiplayer is an enjoyable experience it can be seen as a possible weak link in such a solid game.
Overall the game is a modern masterpiece and an essential gaming experience and purchase for many gamers; due to the realism, and all the work that has gone into making the game a solid, and enjoyable experience.
Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review
Visually this game can not do much wrong, every aspect of the game; be it the characters or the many environments you’ll find yourself in, it is all well detailed and rendered.
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The games strongest point, once you get used to the controls the game becomes addictive very quickly.
The game uses sound to set the mood of the scene to great effect, adding to the realism of the game.
A great single player experience, but many people may only sit through it once, so unless you take a liking to the online mode the lastability of the game will suffer.
A modern masterpiece and an essential purchase.