Ghost Recon Advanced Warrior 2ESRB:
Category: 3rd Person: Action
Developer – Ubisoft Paris & Red Storm Entertainment
Publisher - Ubisoft
Number of Players: 4
Playstation Network Compatible
Online: Ethernet Broadband Required
Required Hard Disk Space: 3MB
Game Rating: T (teen)
Approximately 5 months after the release of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (GRAW 2) for the Xbox 360, Ubisoft delivers GRAW 2 for the PS3. GRAW 2 is the sequel to Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. This sequel is the eighth instalment in the popular Ghost Recon tactical shooter video game series. The GRAW franchise has become one of the top selling game franchises for the Xbox 360 and GRAW 2 remains one of my favourite games on Microsoft’s console. After having reviewed both the original GRAW and GRAW 2 for the Xbox 360, I was very curious to see how GRAW 2 for the PS3 would make the transition from the Xbox 360. For PS3 owners, GRAW 2 is the first next-generation look at the franchise and the transition to Sony’s console is a smooth one which puts this game into a must buy category for the PS3.
Similar to the Xbox 360 version, the visuals in GRAW 2 for the PS3 are nothing short of spectacular. There is no doubt that for many the look of the game will be the best selling feature. At the very least, I was relieved nothing was lost with the conversion from the Xbox 360 to the PS3. In fact, it almost appears improved from the Xbox 360 version.
When you first fire up the game the menus look good, simple and are quite easy to navigate but they are nothing spectacular. But hey, their menus right? After navigating through the menus and finally getting a chance to start the single player campaign the visuals become a sight to behold as the environments are very detailed and look fantastic, especially in high definition. Some of the scenes when passing over cliffs and desert landscapes while in a helicopter are truly a visual spectacle. Also worth noting are the blowing sand effects as you drive through Ciudad Juárez, Mexico which are also very stunning and very detailed.
Some of the other visuals which really stood out during my gamplay are the explosions, detailed character models, and the lighting effects. I just don’t recall the explosions looking so realistic and sharp on the Xbox 360. The plumes of smoke and fire rising after a tank has been detonated is amazing and it is arguably the most realistic and best explosion effect I have seen to date. Needless to say, I don’t believe you will be disappointed. The player models also look realistic and the detail of your characters armour and camouflage is very modern and bang-on. The lighting effects are also very good in GRAW 2. The night time levels look incredibly realistic and nothing is lost from day to night. The lighting in the deserts, deserted forest regions, and urban areas are all done to perfection. In GRAW 2 the lighting is a critical component of the game and often can an impact on your ability to eliminate rebel threats throughout the campaign. The skyline is slick looking and the glare from the sunlight can sometimes blind you. This is something that is not only realistic, but it adds one more obstacle throughout the game.
As far as the sound is concerned, GRAW 2’s audio is an excellent complement to the fantastic graphics. If you have played the Xbox 360 version of the game you won’t notice any differences with the PS3 version. However, if you are a first time GRAW 2 player the distinctive sounds of such things as the weapons, the soundtrack, explosions and character voices all great and are even better in 5.1 surround sound.
Once again Ubisoft sets the standard in the weapon sounds department. GRAW 2’s weapon sounds are incredibly realistic and seem to mirror their real-life counterpart. The sounds of the guns, exploding grenades, smoke grenades, satchel charges and claymores all sound great. The different tanks and rockets all return in this instalment of the franchise with subwoofer rattling sound. All are unique and you can tell a lot of time and effort was spent attempting to perfect the sounds.
The soundtrack is also very good and always seems to remind me of the movie Black Hawk Down. The soundtrack can get very dramatic at times and has a tendency to over-do-it in some instances. Nevertheless, it does add to the realism and mood of the game and certainly gives you that Tom Clancy shooter experience. Finally, the voiceovers in the game are not so bad but nothing is stellar or magnificent in this regard. Bottom-line, the voices in the game are clear including the chatter that your squad mates make throughout each level. In some sense, that is really all I ever ask.
As far as the story is concerned, GRAW 2 essentially picks up where the original GRAW left off as it takes place a few days after the end of the first game. Unfortunately many PS3 owners may not have played GRAW so this will be a whole new experience. Nevertheless, the game does a good job at explaining what is going on and the training tutorial is very detailed which brings you up to speed right away. GRAW 2 takes place in the year 2014 and your elite military fighting unit, the Ghosts, are back. Rising conflict between Mexican loyalists and insurgent rebel forces has thrown Mexico into full-scale civil war. Under your command (you play as Captain Scott Mitchell) the Ghosts are called upon to face and eliminate an imminent threat to the United States. Overall, the story is solid but nothing is incredibly original or riveting. The whole Mexican rebel conflict theme is starting to seem old and I found the story hard to follow as I was generally uninterested. However, for those that haven’t played GRAW before, this will be a whole new experience and the story may very well captivate you.
In terms of the single player campaign there are lots of features which add to the gameplay and are new to the franchise. For instance, now you can command “full view” which is a feature that allows you to see through the eyes of one of your teammates. Personally I rarely used this feature but it’s a great option nonetheless. It adds a new way to play the game and can be quite interesting take control from a perspective different then that of your main character. What impressed me the most about this feature was the clarity of visuals when looking from on of your squad-mate’s viewpoint.
As I suggested the above, the story did not hold me, however it does not matter as it is the gameplay that will bring you back time and time again. Nothing beats some good old fashion shooting down of enemy terrorists. Fans of the franchise will notice right away GRAW 2’s improved Artificial Intelligence (AI). I found myself getting flanked quite a bit and the enemies seemed a little smarter compared to previous versions. Also, your squad-mates are more efficient killing machines this time around. In the original GRAW for the Xbox 360 I called my squad-mates my ‘band of idiots’. The same cannot be said for my GRAW 2 squad. Improved squad-mate AI will now feed you more of the information you need with descriptive commands and they also seem to have greater success at taking out the enemy.
In GRAW 2, you can command your Ghost team every step of the way and the controls do not take very long to get used to. The training missions in GRAW 2 are second to none and upon completing them you come away from the training actually knowing what you are doing. In GRAW 2, you also control various vehicles throughout the campaign mode such as a UVA drone to locate enemies, tanks, and helicopters. You also command lethal air strikes with jet fighters, and replenish armaments on the battlefield using an unmanned artillery MULE. To control the UVA or MULE you can use the Sixaxis controller’s motion sensing capabilities but I personally found it very awkward. I preferred using the default controller options to control these features.
It only takes you about 6 to 8 hours to complete the single player campaign which is a little on the short side. The overall difficulty of the game is also a bit of a concern, however if you breeze through the game you can always increase it as there are four levels of difficulty to choose from. If you are any experienced with shooter games the missions will not present too much of a challenge and I would recommend putting the setting on realistic right from the get go.
Another area which took me by surprise was the online multiplayer. I expected nothing but problems was the multiplayer aspects of the game as Sony’s online network is still in its infancy. And let’s face it; we haven’t seen a lot of PS3 games that kick some butt online. Fortunately GRAW 2 for the PS3 is a lag free and enjoyable experience. The multiplayer aspect of the game has lots of depth and is rich in content. There are many game types to choose, lots of weapons, a large variety of maps, and the co-op missions are very enjoyable. GRAW 2 has also introduced clan support, where you can set up and manage clan details online and on the World Wide Web. My limited time with the online multiplayer was somewhat enjoyable and I am sure those with the online itch will find enjoyment in this aspect of the game.
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