Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 Xbox 360 Review - 26/07/2007

Tom Clancy lent his good name to the BAFTA award winning GRAW back in 2006. It’s safe to say that his reputation is not about to be damaged by Ubisoft’s latest effort.

GRAW2 (or Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 for those of you who despise abbreviations) is more of the same. The intensity of modern warfare combined with a methodical approach to combat is a formula that Ubisoft have been clever not to mess with. Although the chances of cross-coms and such technically advanced UAV drones being a part of the real life military in a few years time seem slim at best, the harsh realism of previous Ghost Recon titles has been retained.

The availability of weapons, health and ammunition is as sparse as ever. Expanded control over support options does make GRAW2 the easier of the Advanced Warfighter games, but this is by no means a quiet stroll through Mexico, even for veterans of the series. These are still power hungry terrorists with nukes after all, and subtle A.I. enhancements ensure the challenge they present is as tough as anything you’ll find in a tactical shooter of this type. Xbox Live multiplayer play has been improved, with a lot less lag and better voice support rounding out the updates. However, you could argue that this could have been implemented into the original GRAW through downloadable content or an auto update.

Aiming sensitivity and squad mechanics have received minor tweaks but are principally the same as before. The seamless cut scenes and minimal loading times have been optimized but are once again directed in a similar way and offer nothing new. There is plenty of evidence to suggest therefore that this game is more of an expansion pack than it is a sequel.

So there you have it solider, you’ve covered the basics of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2. And unless you’ve been too busy watching unsavory content on your cross-coms, you’ll realize that GRAW 2 isn’t all that different in terms of gameplay or content to the original next-gen installment. But what makes GRAW 2 deserving of your attention (and ultimately, your hard earned cash) is all the things it does better than the original. This is a much more accessible representation of life behind enemy lines. It is an answer to the cries of those who found the original Advanced Warfighter frustrating and gimmicky. It doesn’t do anything new. It does the stuff we already know about, but better. As crude a description as that may be, there isn’t an aspect of GRAW 1 that hasn’t been at the very least reexamined in some way. In some cases, genuine improvements have been made. GRAW 2 may not be innovative, and there are many of you who would find that reason enough to ignore it, but it is undeniably a great game.

Since its debut on next-gen formats, the Ghost Recon series has benefitted greatly from the technical prowess of modern hardware. The gameplay of the series has evolved to incorporate the visual horsepower of these new consoles. GRAW1 offered a solid third person experience with top end graphics to boot. Fast forward to Ubisoft’s return visit to the world of Scott Mitchell and you have a game that feels so much more like it belongs in the next generation. The second Advanced Warfighter is noticeably better looking. Ubisoft really have taken the series’ infamous realism beyond the fact that it takes very few bullets to kill you.

The sights you will witness throughout the single player campaign are a true achievement in visual quality. It’s all in the lighting you see, as never before have rays of sunlight and times of the day seemed quite so worthy of taking the time to look at and admire. You are therefore forced to consider the impact of lighting and weather on your visibility in combat. When you also take into account the responses of the A.I. to those same conditions you realize that this game, on the hardware that it’s available for, is as close to “being there” as you’ll ever be.

When you’ve stopped looking at the dynamically changing smoke and realized that there’s a war to be waged, you’ll find that fighting this fight is no longer unnecessarily difficult. This has become a reality because, once again, Ubisoft have recognized what needed the most work from GRAW 1. The aptly named Cross Com 2.0 boasts a full screen overhead view of the area and the ability to see what each member of your squad is seeing. They may appear to be minor, even trivial tweaks, but the impact they have on the playability of the game is staggering. The fact is that Scott Mitchell’s oversized contact lens is now much more robust thanks to this simple enhancement of its capabilities. It has also allowed Ubisoft to be more creative with the support options that are available to you. These include the amusingly named (but poorly armored) Mule, and various other tanks and aircraft that come and go with each passing mission. Being able to control these with greater ease has eliminated a lot of the frustration from the previous game. Although an example of yet another minor improvement, it solves the problem of not having enough control over the units you command.

Advanced Warfighter 2 offers a more balanced tactical experience that rewards you for making truly intelligent decisions. GRAW 2 is therefore the most complete third person over the shoulder shooter you’re likely to ever play.

- Jon Titmuss



Ubisoft Paris