Developer: Ubisoft Paris/GRIN
Release Date: June 26, 2007
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 continues right where the first GRAW left off. You play as a futuristic soldier in the U.S. Army Special Forces unit, the Ghosts. Each soldier in your team is equipped with a high-tech Integrated Warfighter System (IWS), which digitally tracks enemy locations, allies, and provides navigational information. The Ghosts are needed to fight off an imminent threat to the United States in Juarez, Mexico.
Seeing the success of the first Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, Ubisoft decided to build upon the original game and improve it in a number of ways. This includes graphical enhancements, changing climate, improved AI, wider selection of arms and equipment, improved communication system, and a number of new support and tactical options.
The PC version of GRAW 2 is very different from the Xbox 360 and soon-to-be PS3 versions of the game. It is good to see that Ubisoft didn't just port the game over to PC, but took the time to change it in order to take advantage of the PC's capabilities. First and foremost, GRAW 2 on the PC is a first-person shooter, whereas the console versions are played from third-person perspective. The PC also lets the player have significantly more control over mission options, tactics, and how you choose to play the game, while the console versions tend to throw you into the action as fast as possible and not bog down the player with options.
The single-player story of GRAW 2 continues where the original GRAW left off, and you play as Army Captain Scott Mitchell of the Ghosts Special Forces squad. The timeline picks up immediately after the original GRAW, in which you struck down a coup in Mexico City and saved the U.S. President. Now, you must stop more rebels who have gained control of nuclear weapons that could strike anywhere in the U.S. In each mission, you are presented with a video briefing and situational data about the mission before being brought into the action by a Black Hawk helicopter.
If you have sufficient hardware, the graphics in the PC version are notably superior to the Xbox 360 version. I ran the game with an Athlon 64 X2 5200+ and a Geforce 8800 GTS with max details on 1280x1024 resolution, and I received about 70 frames per second. This is a vast improvement over the original GRAW, which seemed to run sluggishly even with a good system. The console version of the game has much glossier lighting effects than its PC counterpart, while the PC's lighting effects come across much more sharp and realistic. The PC also has better draw distances; far-off objects that appeared blurry on the 360 version can be seen clearly on the PC. Additionally, GRAW 2 supports the use of an AGEIA PhysX processor, which greatly enhances the physics to increase the sense of immersion in the game.
Throughout the missions, you will control a squad consisting of yourself and three other Ghosts. You have the option to select which team members you would like to bring, with each contributing something different to the team, such as the demolitions expert, the sniper, and the support member who totes a machine gun. You can also customize your equipment for yourself and your teammates before each mission by selecting primary and secondary weapons, sidearms, and miscellaneous equipment, such as grenades and explosives. The selection of weaponry and options is quite vast; there are over 10 primary weapons to choose from, and almost each weapon has options such as adding a scope, a suppressor, or a grenade launcher.
You have several options about how you want to command your squad. Each squad member has a number next to their names, which corresponds to their communications channel. Selecting "1" issues commands to the whole team. You can use this to issue commands such as hold position, provide cover fire, advance to a location, or perform recon. When in your normal first-person view, a circle icon appears on the ground, which you move with your mouse cursor to direct the location of the command. It is not completely freeform, however, as there are some preset locations that you can tell your teammates to move to, cover, etc. This doesn't hinder anything, though, since there is a location every couple of feet, but you can notice your cursor jumping from point to point instead of freely moving across the terrain.
You can also bring up a tactical map, which shows an overhead satellite view of the battlefield. It is linked with your IWS, which lets you easily see the layout of the terrain and the location of your allies, in addition to spotted enemy targets. From this mode, you can also issue commands to your teammates and set up way points. This view shows the positioning and firing arc of you and your teammates, which is useful for setting up crossfires and covering specific areas. Everything runs in real-time when you are viewing the tactical map as well, so you can issue orders and see the action take place right on the map.
In the missions, you'll also have access to a number of other high-tech amenities of the modern battlefield, such as the mule, which is an automated vehicle that can perform reconnaissance. The mule also carries a full supply of weapons and ammunition for restocking your team, and it can advance into areas and act as mobile cover for you and your teammates. In some of the missions, you'll gain control of automated reconnaissance drones, tanks, air strikes, and artillery bombardments — all of which can be directed through the main viewpoint or through the tactical map.
If you haven't played the Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter games before, you will notice that action is much slower- paced than most FPS titles. The GRAW series tries to simulate more realism and focus on tactics as opposed to frantic run-and-gun action. For the people who like lots of options and depth in their games, the PC version of GRAW will probably interest them more than its console cousin. Look for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 on the PC when it hits shelves later this month.
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