Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 review
Creating a first-person, team-based shooter must be a tricky task. Not only do you need a plot line that doesn’t involve the shouted line “where’s the bomb?”, but you also need to pick your way along the divide between ultra-realism and arcade nonsense.
Tom Clancy games have partially failed at both in the past: sooner or later, you stumble upon a fiercely guarded megabomb and, in the quest for realism, you’re saddled with a character who dies the second he catches a stray round. And, yes, we know actual people don’t absorb live ammunition very well either, but games should be fun, dammit.
So you can’t charge around spraying anything that moves. Partly because the enemies are intelligent blighters, complete with the tactical nous to outflank and ambush, but also because when you run out of ammo you have to resort to pinching guns off cadavers.
And the storyline can be dismissed thusly: uprising in Mexico, stolen nuclear bomb, secret US taskforce. There. But we can live with the paper-thin storyline, because Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRAW2) looks and plays superbly. Click the middle mouse button and a control menu appears for directing the rest of your four-man team, so you can send two men to one side of a street while you patrol the other. Or, you can order your men straight into the line of fire, saving yourself in a selfish act of preservative cowardice. You can also order your team to attack particular targets, so you can concentrate on other goals. There are still glitches: for example, you direct your team to patrol stealthily along the side of a building and one gets stuck behind a wheely bin, while another wanders nonchalantly into the middle of the street and gets picked off by a sniper, even though that’s why you sent him along the side of the building in the first place.
But the foibles are kept to a minimum. The graphics are amazing, and the maps huge and atmospheric, with close-quarters fighting in alleyways and buildings combined with long-range exchanges of fire across giant squares. There are also plenty of vehicles, with enemy reinforcements arriving in trucks or fast-roping down from helicopters – our favourite is dispatching half-a-dozen baddies at a time with a shoulder missile. The sound is excellent, too – turn it up and you’re in for an immersive treat.
GRAW2 is a great game in all the truly important ways – it’s engrossing, the AI works well, and there’s enough variety in the locations and weapons to keep you interested. It’s enormously playable, but once you finish it you won’t truly feel like you’ve accomplished anything, despite there being more than enough here to attract both fans of the battleground simulation genre and passers-by with a penchant for shoot-em-ups.