Review by marksolino

"Next-gen squad warfare. Brilliant!"

Introduction: GRAW is probably the first example of a next-gen game for the new console cycle. Besides the incredible graphics and sound design there are enough gameplay evolutions here to advance the series and qualify as an evolution. Add on a compelling story (for a Clancy game, anyway) and some tense multiplayer action and you have the first must-buy title for the Xbox 360.

Gameplay: Advanced Warfighter offers up the signature Clancy realistic shooting action with some gameplay innovations and improvements on previous iterations in the series. For starters, enemy AI is much improved and they will flank and use grenades liberally; this necessitates a much more strategic approach on the part of the player. Your squad's AI is somewhat better although they will still pull some stupid maneuvers which get them shot down; however if you get to them in time you can apply first aid to get them back in the fight. Also new to this version is the advanced HUD which will identify friendlies and enemies as such and is crucial in utilizing effectively if you want to survive (since you're always outnumbered and outgunned). The HUD also enables real-time video communications with your squadmates, headquarters, and the new UAV reconnaissance drone. In addition, you will occasionally have AI vehicle support (Blackhawk and Apache helicopters, Bradley fighting vehicles and tanks) which can add tremendously to your firepower.

GRAW offers two difficulty levels for the singleplayer campaign. Once the player has finished with these there are various single-player, coop, and adversarial multiplayer missions which can be played splitscreen, system link or Xbox Live. This is a game that could keep you busy for months with all of the tweakable options.

Story: The story is actually fairly interesting this time around. It takes place over several days in Mexico City and features a coup de tat, the rescue of the Mexican and U.S. presidents, and the hunting of a Mexican traitor. You play as Captain Scott Mitchell, a special forces team leader in charge of your elite Ghost squad. Whether alone, with your squad or with vehicle support you will fight in a variety of locations throughout the city; all rendered with stunning graphics and sound.

Graphics/Sound: Amazing, What more can be said? HDR, detailed texture mapping, heat haze effects, next-gen object physics—this game has it all. All Clancy games sound good and this one sounds incredible. Even the music gives it that action-thriller cinematic feel (except for some cheesy licensed rock during some of the helicopter transport cutscenes).

Playtime/Replayability: The singleplayer campaign probably would last around eight hours however with the trial-and-error gameplay of several difficult sections (due to the one-shot-and-you're-dead damage model) will likely last most players about 15 hours. Replay time is nearly infinite with the various singleplayer and multiplayer modes, however. This game will be a serious challenge to Halo 2's popularity on Xbox Live.

Final Recommendation: For tactical shooter or Clancy fans this is a no-brainer. You must buy this. Casual FPS fans would probably enjoy this as well; though it does exercise your brain a bit more than, say, Doom 3. As a showcase for the 360's graphical power (and to think, we're only 4 months into this new console cycle—imagine what 360 games will look like a few years from now) this is currently unparalleled by anything except Oblivion and Fight Night Round 3. To me, this is the first must-buy title for the 360. I really think most people will enjoy this immensely.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/24/06

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