Review by LegatoJoe
"Was it everything the critics hyped it up to be?"
So <u>Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter</u> hits the Xbox 360. I won't bore you with an introduction, because I'm sure you've heard enough about the game if you're interested in it. I'm here to simply tell you what it's all about, and you can make the decision for yourself.
The story wasn't the emphasis in a game like this, and in saying that, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't in any way noteworthy. You never really care alot about what's going on in the overall storyline, but the events in the individual levels keep you interested enough to say the story isn't a total loss.
There's no debating it, the visuals are amazing. The textures are amazing, and will even change as they are hit with bullets (think bullets penetrating/piercing walls, etc.) to make the environment seem even more realistic. Explosions are done well, and you might find yourself captured in the whole battle experience. The score loses a point because at times the framerate/smoothness seemed to drop a bit, and bullets when shot rapidly seem to look rather pixelated if you look at them follow their path closely. Otherwise this is a splendid-looking game.
There's nothing particularly noteworthy here, but nothing particularly bad either. The sound most of the time fits the situation, and at times the music will heighten the tension you're feeling as you proceed into the next portion of the map. At times though, in cutscenes or wherever else that isn't the main gameplay, the soundtrack will cut to some gothic/metal/screaming rock music, and it sounds really unfitting. I don't know what their objective was in putting this there, but it certainly doesn't make me relate to anything in the game any better. The voiceovers are done well enough I guess... nothing is redefining in any way about the sound. In fact often times it doesn't mesh well with the video feed of the person talking, but I don't know whether to count this as a sound or gameplay issue.
First off, the controls are a bit overwhelming at first. Initially, all you will really feel comfortable with is moving your character around, and it doesn't help that the user interface at first looks really complicated and just... overdone. You'll get used to the controls more later, but you'll realize that it isn't exactly the most intuitive setup you've ever played on. To get your character to do certain things, you often have to hit buttons which don't seem to match the action, such as pressing up on your d-pad to get your teammates to attack something or move, or pressing your right analog stick inward in order to zoom in (if your weapon has a scope). By the end of the game, you aren't bothered at all by the scheme in place here, but only because you're so used to it. It's getting there that seemed like a tiny bit of a struggle. It's still solid overall.
The meat of the game; this is where Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter succeeds on many levels. To describe it a bit, you take control of a soldier named Scott, who is the captain of a small squad of soldiers. You take command over this squad of 3 men, and they will assist you in accomplishing your missions, in which there are maybe 10 or 11. Giving commands to these soldiers takes a bit of getting used to, but you get the hang of it quickly and it becomes natural. You can tell them to proceed to an area you designate, retreat back to your position, attack something, as well as putting them in a recon formation or an attack-based formation. The problem here is that the AI of these soldiers often fails them. Sometimes if you try to get them to attack something, they will complain about not having an open line of sight to the target, but won't do anything about it. I wish the game would at least give them the possibility to move around to get a shot that isn't immediately accessible. I admit that you should be able to instead give them move commands to reach the area you want them to, but then they aren't on the offensive, their goal is to move first and then shoot later, or if shot at, so the men are at a disadvantage here. Other times they simply refuse to follow you, which happens alot in tight quarters with alot of turns and barricades. You'll call on them to fall back on your position, and they won't move. You then have to babysit them in a way, you have to go back to wherever they are standing and try to coax them through trial and error to get out of the area they are in. Otherwise, the teamwork element can be a nice thing to have in this game, and they'll come in handy more times than not. They might not cover themselves like you can, or shoot with your accuracy, but they are bodies, and they'll at least distract enemies for you. Haha.
Other times, for whatever reason, the mission you are in will require you reach goals without any teammate assistance, in which case, you're on your own. The gameplay stays pretty fresh, and rarely do you ever feel "bored" in a mission, but I do have to admit that it isn't too varied in mission 3 than it was in one of the last ones, per se. This isn't a huge flaw, but I would've liked to see a mission where you took command over something bigger, like a tank or something, to kill people. You do at times use helicopter mounted guns, and you do have command over CPU-controlled friendly tanks at times, but I was searching for just a bit more of something.
However, when you complete missions, they are good enough that you'll almost always want to start the next one right away, unless you're on some sort of real-life time constraint where you have to stop playing. The game is fun and exciting on many levels, and your mission objectives are never repeated enough to get terribly old. The game should take you maybe 10-15 hours to complete, I'm not sure how long it took me. Closer to 15 I'm sure.
Oh, it may be worth mentioning that you will die. Sometimes over and over again. It's not that the game is insanely difficult, it's that sometimes you just don't know what to expect and you'll walk into a deathtrap, and it will take you a few tries to pick up on patterns and effective strategies for dealing with the specific onslaught. Sometimes you'll get a bit frustrated, but I know you can get by, and if you found yourself in a bad spot with no health/teammates, you can always restart the mission and play it better. Not that anyone really likes playing over stuff they've already done, but this'll work for a desperate person.
The game was solid fun all the way through, and some people might even want to try it again on Hard mode if they aren't satisfied yet. There are co-op modes you might be able to have some fun in with your friends, as well as online play for Xbox-Live users. I personally have no experience on Co-op and do not use Xbox-Live at this immediate time so I cannot vouch for either experience. There are other reviews on this site which tackle this though. But I expect they'd be in line with the singleplayer experience I've outlined in this review.
I can't imagine too many instances where you might walk away hating this game. I admit, on the first day I played, I wasn't too impressed, but I came back to it a month later and it was much better received on my part. The interface and how the game works in general is kind of strange, as you don't expect warlike environments with sophisticated radar and map support, but it doesn't take away from the experience, and for some people, it adds to it. If you can get over the numerous amount of moving indicators and cursors on the screen, and the issue of your enemies/friends being highlighted when you run your crosshair over them (annoying for friendies, can be useful for enemies sometimes) then you have yourself a tactical shooter that's very fun to play and doesn't fail on any huge level. Recommended.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/03/06
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