In Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, you'll once again get to play as Captain Scott Mitchell of the US Army's elite (and fictional) 5th Special Forces Group, otherwise known as the Ghosts. However, that's just the single-player part of the game. Like its predecessor, GRAW2 will feature a robust multiplayer suite. We've already covered the competitive multiplayer modes, but now we can talk about the game's cooperative multiplayer gameplay, which lets you play with up to 15 other players as you battle computer-controlled opponents together.
GRAW2's multiplayer suite is impressive in its sheer size and variety. Because you can customize the game modes and victory conditions, there are hundreds of different combinations that you can participate in online. At its heart, though, will certainly be the six-mission co-op campaign. While the single-player campaign has you fighting as Mitchell in the El Paso, Texas, area, the multiplayer co-op campaign will have you fighting as a member of a separate detachment of Ghosts in Panama. The co-op campaign ties into the single-player campaign, because whoever is funding the Mexican Army rebels is in Panama, and it'll be up to you and your fellow soldiers to put a halt to it.
One of the cool new features in GRAW2 is the introduction of dynamic objectives. These are basically secondary objectives that can make the missions easier or harder depending on whether you attempt to accomplish them. For instance, in one mission there may be two radio towers that need to be destroyed. If one goes down, the other will transmit a cry for help and enemy reinforcements will appear. So the way to avoid this is to take both down simultaneously, but that will require a considerable amount of teamwork and coordination on your part to do so. In another mission, you can make your life a lot easier by stealthily destroying a fuel tank to create a diversion. However, if you're detected or you engage the enemy and make your presence known before that happens, you'll have to deal with a lot more enemy soldiers.
Aside from the co-op campaign, there's no shortage of customizable co-op games that you can set up and play. For instance, you can set up a defend game where your team has to defend a number of zones on a map from waves of attackers. You can adjust the victory conditions so that you lose if the attackers overrun a single zone, or you can make it so the attackers have to overrun multiple zones. In a stealth-recon game, your job will be to enter a series of zones on the map that are guarded, but the twist is that you have to do so without alerting the enemy. If an enemy detects you, you'll have 30 seconds to eliminate the threat before an alarm is raised. This means that you'll want to rely on silenced weapons and leave the grenades and unsuppressed (nonsilenced) weapons behind, because if you make too much noise killing one enemy, the rest will hear you and it's game over. If you want a silly time online, you can set up a helo hunt, which basically pits your team against an endless swarm of helicopters. This can be brutal considering how hard it is to hit a moving helicopter, not to mention the incredible amount of firepower that the helicopters can unleash on you. But there's also something strangely hilarious about you and your team running around with rocket launchers and shooting at a sky full of hovering choppers.
While you can play any mode with an infinite number of respawns, the challenge will be when you try and play with no respawns. Indeed, while there will be plenty of achievements in the cooperative multiplayer mode, you can't unlock them unless you're playing with respawns turned off. But that makes sense, because where's the challenge otherwise?
One of the great things about multiplayer, of course, is the sheer number of weapons that you can select from. There's a staggering 62 weapons in GRAW2, which means that each of the game's four classes (rifleman, marksman, grenadier, and automatic gunner) have a diverse arsenal to choose from. And some of the new weapons in GRAW2 are going to be very popular. We managed to rack up an impressive 27-0 kill score with the new suppressed 50 caliber sniper rifle. Since it's suppressed, it doesn't make anywhere near as much noise as the regular sniper rifles, which means that you can use it in stealthy situations. The downside is that it does less damage because it has to use a subsonic round (the tiny sonic boom created by regular bullets would defeat the purpose of a silenced weapon). Still, if enemies can't figure out where you're sniping from, you can easily unload two or three subsonic rounds into them.
Another one of our favorite new weapons is the six-shot grenade launcher. While it's undoubtedly going to cause a lot of grumbles in competitive multiplayer, there's nothing quite like being able to unleash a rapid stream of grenades onto the target. Since enemy soldiers like to move around in groups, you can easily clear the area of hostiles. And the grenade launcher is pretty handy against light vehicles, as well. The downside to the grenade launcher is...well, there aren't that many. It's pretty much useless for close-in enemies, since you'll likely take yourself out in the process of taking them out. Then there's the fact that ammunition for it is fairly limited, though you can resupply at various crates throughout a level.
There's nothing quite like the feeling of a co-op game, as you're running along with a pack of your fellow players, all loaded for bear and ready to take out anything in your way. Teamwork and coordination is easy thanks to voice chat, but some of the new GRAW2 single-player enhancements also show up in multiplayer. For instance, you can select any of your teammates and get a full-screen view of what they're seeing by simply holding down the right bumper on the Xbox 360 controller. Or, you can take control of the aerial drone, get a full-screen feed of its video output, and pilot it around the map to detect enemies. Meanwhile, if a teammate goes down but isn't killed outright, you can patch them up by running up and healing them. This is a good way to foster teamwork, since you don't want to be all by yourself if you're shot. If someone doesn't get to you in time, you're a goner. GRAW2's co-op is a load of fun, and it'll certainly be one of the most popular features of the game when it ships next month.