Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (Xbox 360) Review

Now this is the game that Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter should have been. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 makes several intuitive improvements over the original title, while still maintaining its general tactical feel.

Taking place only a few days after the original title, it appears those surly Mexican Rebels are trying to sell illegal fireworks across the US border, and by selling fireworks I mean launching stolen nukes. It's up to Cpt. Mitchell and the Ghosts to once again spring into action and save the day. This time around, I found the game's narrative to actually be easy to follow and thus get into, and I really liked the game's jeep ride intro.

The majority of the team mates and weapons from the first game are back, as well as a few new toys, however I did find myself using the standard MR-C as my primary rifle, just like I did in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.

The game is, sadly, a short one, taking only several hours to complete on the Guarded Risk (Normal) difficulty setting, however the missions blend a nice mix of urban and desert combat, both solo and with groups. There are times when you need to be stealthy, recon, and snipe targets, and other times when you're in massive, all out sieges, both of which are great fun.

Your squad mate's AI has been improved, unfortunately less so in their self targeting and accuracy, but more so in the kind of feedback they provide to you as team lead. Your troops will now tell you the number of hostiles they've spotted, where the enemy is taking cover ("We have two behind the red car!"), and even shout at you to get your ass under cover if you're in the open.

You also get a brand new class of soldier to add to your team, the Medic. In Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, if a teammate was injured, he could not be healed until you reached a rally point to also restock on ammo, though you could revive him an infinite number of times if he was incapacitated, providing that you or another squad mate reached him before he died. In Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, your team carries a limited number of medkits that are used to revive incapacitated teammates. If you include the Medic in your squad, you get additional medkits as well as the option to revive teammates and to get yourself patched up pre-rally point. Needless to say, this makes the Medic a very valuable addition to the Ghosts.

Your squad still tends to suck at effectively taking out targets on their own, however, and though you can rely on them if you coordinate them, it does require a lot of hand holding. This hand holding is made a little easier in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, as you can now hold the Right Bumper to view what your team is seeing full screen via your enhanced Cross-Com. This makes pinpoint movements much simpler, though in truth, coordinating them via the game's tactical map is usually efficient enough while also providing you an overall picture of the area.

Vehicle support still mainly sucks ass aside from using them as mobile cover, as tanks are too dumb to auto-acquire targets on their own, but again if you handhold them, choppers and tanks can really chew up the opposition. In Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, you can also call in air strikes, bringing down an ordnance drop on an enemy target, causing a lot of fireworks. Quite the visual spectacle.

The UAV drone is back and even more useful than before, again, thanks to the full screen view from your Cross-Com. In addition to the remote UAV, you also get the M.U.L.E, a small, land-based vehicle that serves to carry additional weapons, ammo, and health for you and your team. You can also use it for ground based recon and cover, however it's not very durable and I found the M.U.L.E more useful as a mobile medkit and ammo box safely kept at the back lines.

Graphically, the game's quite beautiful. The Cross-Com is as sleek as ever, and the environments are rich with detail and polish. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 employes a full day/night cycle, causing you to make judicious use of your night vision, as well as being extra careful when performing recon if you're getting sunblind. I like the colour scheme of the Ghost's armour better than from the first game, but otherwise character models mainly look the same. Cross-Com briefing character models are more polished this time around though.

The game also features a very strong sound mix. Voice acting is mixed, with some over-the-top performances that I could have done without, but the general sound effects and musical score were both sweet.

From a control standpoint, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 removes the few complaints I had regarding the original title. Instead of cycling through a long and tedious inventory list to swap weapons, you now simply Press and hold "Y" (on Controller Config B), and then press one of the four main directions on the D-Pad to select the corresponding weapon or explosive. The same procedure follows for selecting alternate rates of fire, all nice and quick. I also like how I can now view the tactical map without it removing me from cover.

When it's all said and done, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 is a solid tactical shooter, however given its short length I really can't recommend it at full retail price. However, if you wait a while and can find it for about $35.00 to $40.00, I'd say pick it up and go deal with some Mexican rebels. The President will thank you.


Mark West said...

GRAW 2 is a great game - and continues with pretty much the same feel as all previous GR titles.
GR has it's own unique style - which is what makes the game what it is = one of the best!! Of course there are no vehicles - but that's GR - that's part of it's unique style. I prefer to have hands on driver control in vehicles - but it would spoil GR for me - there are lots of other games with vehicles to play if I want that. And lets not forget what GR is all about - it's *Ghost Recon* not an all out shoot 'em up. Anyone who's had any kind of military experience at all can appreciate and relate to GR - for me it brings back some memories of when I was a cadet - it has that outdoor war game feel to it.
Future soldier broke with that mold - and I'm still not sure if FR was a good idea - though the graphics were excellent. don't knock GR - it's a classic - one of the all time greats.

Juxtapose said...

@Mark West Thanks for the comment! It's been a long while since I've even thought about this franchise, and I didn't bother checking out the most recent release.

I did find Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 to be a very good game, but not a great game; it simply wasn't my style.

I am glad you enjoyed it and the franchise in general though!