Review by elsquanto
"Ghost Recon Advanced Rawrfighter"
"Well, what's the difference between a faulty plan and strategy that's getting just as many troops killed?"
~ Winston Churchill
Captain Scott Mitchell is the kinda guy you want on your side. He's a brilliant tactician, a veteran of all sorts of different types of weapon capacities, and the star of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, a simply brilliant tactical shooter for the Xbox 360. Scott starts out with his squad in a simple recon mission in Mexico City, covering a meeting between the Prime Minister of Canada, and the Mexican and American presidents. But just as he's getting used to the small scale skirmishes, an entire civil war breaks out in Mexico. These rebels aren't too happy with the meeting, and they decide to rain on the diplomatic parade, killing the prime minister and forcing the two presidents into hiding. These killjoys think it'll be funny to try to take over the city, but unlucky for them, they have Scott to deal with.
The game opens up with a breathtaking view from Scott's turret on the side of a Black Hawk. The expanses of one of the largest cities on the planet looms underneath, and All Along the Watchtower is being pumped out in the background. Already, the game shows some of the excellent cinematics and atmosphere which will be flaunted throughout the rest of the game. Indeed, the entire city, from the shacks and barbed wire fences in the outskirts to the towering skyscrapers in the center, seem to be rendered amazingly well. The excellent world graphics are reflected by just as stellar character models. The cover animations seem almost motion captured, and you'll find yourself just staring at an action like climbing out of cover or strapping some C4 to a Howitzer thinking how awesome it looks. The only flaw I noticed was that the butt of the rifle seems almost glued to the character's shoulder. Even when a bullet hit's 'em in the chest, and their arms go limp and hang to their sides, the gun stays there, simply jutting out.
This is a minor problem that is barely noticeable, and I only discovered it because I died, and I died a lot. Even on Normal difficulty, GRAW is hard, even on the normal difficulty. If you stick your body out of cover for too long, you'll find it is likely to be torn to pieces. Running and gunning in this game will most likely be met with a swift death, a realistic touch which is a far cry from most shooters these days. The cover system employed in GRAW is much more difficult to get used to than in a game like Gears of War. However, it also employs more options. While you won't be very mobile while sitting behind a low wall, you'll be able to lean out of cover quickly, issue orders, and even use some nifty weapons with cameras, allowing you to shoot enemies while never leaving the confines of your crouch.
But the cameras aren't the only toy you get to play with. In fact, everything Scott Mitchell is carrying makes an episode of Modern Weapons seem like it belongs on the Hallmark channel. Scott's arsenal includes hulking anti-tank weapons, counter-sniper rifles which can shoot through walls, and machine guns with grenades as an alternate fire. But that's just the weapons, Scott also has a nifty floating drone that he can send out to detect enemy presence, turning a blind charge into a skillful assault. All of these weapons are commanded through the cross-com, a little device strapped to Scott's right eye. In a battlefield situation, Scott can target enemies, view the battle from an ally's perspective, and get video communications from thousands of miles away. This is very helpful, as the battlefields are huge in scope and normally have several different paths you can take in order to reach your objective. You really don't understand how important this really is until some missions without it, where jammers are scrambling your communications.
However, the shooting and graphics are only half of the game, and the other half is the stunning tactical side. Scott can command several different types of allies, whether they be his squadmates, a drone, an APC, an Apache, or a huge Abrams tank. He'll be responsible for keeping tabs on all of them at once, normally an easy task for his cross-com. The commanding interface will literally allow you to open up a tactical map and select targets, all under the comfortable cover of a large brick wall. There are some issues with this however. Some are minor, like the drone's tendency to attract a lot of bullets when it's not doing anything, but others are noticeable, like the inability of the tanks or APC's to stray from their set path. They'll charge straight in, and there are no orders to give them other than forward and backwards.
But when Scott's not commanding his troops and shooting rebels in the battlefield, he's in the sky behind a chain gun in an apache helicopter, raining death from above. Several times during the single player campaign, you'll take control of one of these bad boys and fly around dishing out death for awhile. These missions are a real test of patience, as many times you'll be shot before you even see an enemy. However, when you can get a good rate of fire going, they're some of the most fun missions in the game, although brief.
It doesn't matter how many times you're in a helicopter though, because the bulk of the gameplay is spent with just you and your squadmates doing what they do best, playing four man army throughout the streets of Mexico. The great thing about this is that if you get pinned down, then you can quickly order your squadmates to take out the nasty bugger. You can send them into a flanking position, or better yet, send them out into the open to see if any enemies bite. You even have the choice of outfitting them with different weapons. If you don't have the energy to lug around a rocket launcher, you can have a buddy do it, or if you want people taken down fast, you can put in for a marksman. It even brings some strategic value in itself, as choosing your allies and coordinating it with your weapon choice can either lead to a tremendous flop or a brilliant strategem.
It would be easier to pull off these plans if your squadmates were just a little bit smarter. For example, you can tell them to stay beyond cover, but if you tell them to attack something, there's a chance they'll completely abandon their cover and expose themselves to enemy fire, leaving you to pick up the pieces. Too many times, they'll get themselves run over by one of your own tanks.
There are however, chances for you to break the squad based atmosphere and play with some real people. The best part of the game by far is co-op, either split screen or with up to sixteen people online. The multiplayer is generally good, although it can be frustrating when there's no taking cover and the maps are too large for small skirmishes.
Final Score: GRAW brings the world of fast paced, intense shooters and the slower tactical games together for an excellent game. It's a must own for anybody with an Xbox 360, even for people who aren't into shooters. A better multiplayer would've made this game a classic.
Graphics - 9 - No people
Sound- 9 - "Two riders were approachin'..."
Gameplay - 9 - Unique and excellent
Multiplayer - 6 - Co-op and that's it
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 07/10/07
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