Review by horror_spooky

"Second Verse, Better than the First"

The original G.R.A.W. is still to this day one of my favorite games released on the Xbox 360. I still find myself popping it in now and then, even more so than the widely hyped Halo 3. Even though the campaign could have used some work, the multiplayer was awesome, so for the sequel I expected the campaign to be improved and the already mind-blowing multiplayer to become even better. Did Ubisoft succeed? You bet your ass they did.

The reason a lot of gamers didn't like the Ghost Recon series was its unforgiving difficulty. I myself hated the games of the sixth generation because they were so blisteringly difficult that I couldn't have any fun with them. When the original Advanced Warfighter came along, people still thought it was pretty hard, but I do have to say that the campaign was loads easier than the other games, making it much more accessible to a wider demographic and providing difficulty options that let fans of the older games still enjoy some near-impossible missions. Well, Advanced Warfighter 2 is even more forgiving than the first one and the team A.I. has been improved enough that your squad doesn't end up doing something stupid.

Making the game easier was a very smart move and now the campaign is just where it needs to be: very possible to beat on lower difficulties, but very challenging on higher difficulties. I have a feeling gamers will embrace this installment in the series with much more open arms than they did with the games that came before it and the campaign also has more “WOW!” moments than the first, making it much more fun to play in general.

Of course, the game would be nothing without its awesome multiplayer capabilities. One of my quips with the original game was that it only had four multiplayer co-op maps for you to try to beat with your friends, but this sequel provides much more co-op maps that are much more involving and important than the previous games'. There are squads of soldiers that actually help you out this time around because the A.I. is improved enough that they are actually capable of staying alive.

A major improvement on the multiplayer from the original to this game is that you can actually be healed on the battlefield. There will be moments where you are shot enough to be critically injured, but still alive for a few moments. This gives your allies a chance to run over to you and heal you, providing a second lease on life that was impossible in the first game.

One of the reasons why the multiplayer was so awesome before was the amount of enemies the game could put on screen at one time that would charge at you. However, one of the problems was that was all they did: charge at you. They didn't do anything to try to outsmart you, but once again, due to the improved A.I., the enemies are much smarter this time around. They will hide from you to trick you to leave certain areas, or they will stay in one area until a bunch of them build up and then come after you in a pack. Your jaw will drop when you see the hundreds of enemies all on screen at once…it's truly amazing what the Xbox 360 is capable of.

Customization is also improved this time around, with more options for your appearance as a soldier. Not only that, but the multiplayer matches are even more customizable than before, with a day/night option implemented as well as more flexible match types. It's a shame, though, that players can't play as the “bad guys” still and you still can't control any vehicles, which is kind of a disappointment since one of the biggest draws of other games in this genre have truly amazing vehicles that do nothing but improve the gameplay.

Another major improvement over the first G.R.A.W. is that the story is much better. I found myself not caring about the story that much in the first game and I more or less ignored it. Honestly, I expected much more from a game that uses the likeness of a famous author, but this installment has a much better story, albeit with a somewhat disappointing ending. The game starts off right where the first left off, with insurgents still terrorizing Mexico, and with a looming threat of a rumored weapon of mass destruction under rebel control, the U.S. government has no choice but to send in its elite: the Ghosts.

A lot of people praised the original for its graphics, but for some reason, I didn't find them to be that impressive. Sure, they were great, but I had seen better on the 360. I can't say the same for the sequel, with graphics that noticeably better, with more detailed and larger environments to boot. The only problem I have is that there is significant lag during multiplayer sessions if things get too intense, but that is to be expected. Also, the game can become extremely frustrating when you lose a mission you worked hours on and a glitch ends up costing you the game (ala freezing or getting stuck and you can't move…trust me, it sucks).

Guns are loud, voice-acting is average, and there are explosions everywhere. Yeah, this is definitely a Tom Clancy game. The background music is nothing memorable or even that intense, which is a shame since if the right music was implemented it would work so well with the game and definitely improve the overall atmosphere. Sometimes mission objectives aren't very clear and the game's voiced instructions can be a little confusing at times, but you'll eventually figure out what you're supposed to do.

The campaign really isn't that long, which is a shame, and since the obvious inclusion of a co-op function isn't included, the only replayability for the campaign is to unlock achievements. Of course, the real meat is the multiplayer which you will spend days upon days playing, I assure you. If you have Xbox Live, the multiplayer replayability will be kicked up even farther, but if you are an offline-only gamer you can still enjoy the multiplayer without being disappointed. Also, the multiplayer co-op campaign maps are so difficult that it will take you hours upon hours just to beat one of them. Is that a good thing? Definitely.

When people go out and buy an Xbox 360, the games they usually get are Gears of War and Halo 3 since those are the games that they've heard the most about. Those are both great games, but if you are someone who is thinking about purchasing a 360, make your first games be the Advanced Warfighter games. These games will definitely push your conceptions on what is capable on a video game system and they both definitely push the 360 to the limit. In conclusion, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 is a great game with a passable and very playable campaign, amazing multiplayer, great graphics, impressive audio, and a story that you can actually get into. If you own an Xbox 360 and you haven't picked up this game yet, do yourself a favor and purchase it as soon as possible. Trust me, you'll be happy that you did.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/02/08

Game Release: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (US, 03/06/07)

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