Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter Q&A

Christian Allen, lead designer at Ubisoft, explains the titular Advanced Warfighter system that will make the next Ghost Recon game unlike any that has gone before.

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Currently scheduled for release toward the end of this year, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is a squad-based shooter set in the year 2013. Like its predecessors, Advanced Warfighter will see you assuming the role of a member of the Elite US Special Forces unit: the ghosts, who, on this occasion, are tasked with rescuing the president from Mexican rebels. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is one of the most impressive-looking Xbox 360 games that we've been fortunate enough to see to date, but, as Ubisoft's Christian Allen explains, the game promises to add a lot more to the long-running Ghost Recon series than just improved graphics.

GameSpot: Where did the integrated warfighter concept come from?

Advanced Warfighter's single-player campaign will be set in Mexico City.

Christian Allen: There has always been a focus for our Tom Clancy titles to ensure that the stories, characters, and equipment are as authentic as possible. With Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter we wanted to ensure that this tradition continued, as fans of the brand have always enjoyed the realism that we convey in our games. As this is a next-generation title we also wanted to give players the ability to play as the next-generation soldier, not sci-fi but the kind of soldier you will see on the battlefield in the next 10 years.

In order to do this, there was a lot of research put into understanding what the US army and other military engineers were envisaging for the military in years to come. We worked very closely with our Special Forces advisors, equipment manufacturers, and various engineers to build our integrated warfighter system.

GS: What does the system do?

CA: The principle behind the integrated warfighter is to create a soldier-centric soldier, more lightweight, flexible, and therefore more effective. He or she will be protected by the latest body armor and be interconnected with all allied forces on the battlefield. This means not only the core team, but also support helicopters, base camp, and unmanned air drones. This will be done via the cross-com unit, which is the blue monocle on the soldier's goggles.

GS: How does cross-com work?

CA: This device is actually used by pilots and surgeons, but on a much smaller scale, as it has not been refined to the point that we use it in the game. It allows the user to see what his teams are seeing in real time on the battlefield. The device also highlights enemy targets that the unmanned air support drones have spotted and gives tactical map information of the surrounding area in question. The most important thing about the cross-com is that it does all this via multiple windows but does not impede the soldier's situational awareness of the battlefield. It basically means he doesn't have to dial a mobile number, look at a map and compass, or find a TV monitor, as everything is done remotely through his integrated suit and helmet, therefore he is always fully aware of where he is and what is around him.

GS: So this suit he's wearing looks pretty cool. What else can it do?

CA: As I mentioned earlier, the concept is to create a soldier-centric force so everything from the helmet to the boots acts together to create the most efficient soldier. For example, the suit contains a Warrior Physiological Status Monitoring System (WPSMS), which gives diastolic, systolic, and heart-rate info. This allows command and medical personnel to monitor the soldier's health. The soldier carries a battlefield computer and long-lasting liquid cell batteries to ensure that the soldier in command is informed of any difficulties or changes in temperature. This works in conjunction with the Artisent Inc. fragmentation/ballistic helmet, which is capable of withstanding fragmentation (9mm, 5.56mm, 7.62mm) and has an integrated radio and antenna woven into the helmet shell. It also has a high-definition digital camera, integrated 3D audio sensor, enhanced night/thermal vision, and a laser target designator.

But it is important to highlight that it is not just about gadgets and gizmos. Developments in material and fibers also add to the dimension of this new soldier. When fighting in the intense heat of the Mexican sun, soldiers need to be cool and comfortable and of course somewhat invisible!

We have worked closely with leading developers of these various shirts, pants, and equipment such as Crye Associates' Multicam camouflage, which actually reduces the visibility of the soldier in daylight and through night-vision goggles through its unique pattern design. Underneath the soldier wears Under Armour, which provides a moisture-wicking base layer that keeps the soldier cool, dry, and light, and I can vouch for that, as I wore one at E3, and trust me it is hot like fire in that exhibition, but I remained as fresh as a daisy!

Ten years from now, all US Special Forces will be wearing Oakley.

The combat pants and shirt also have integrated high-impact knee and elbow pads for extra protection on the battlefield. Last but by no means least we have one of the most important pieces of a soldier's equipment, the item that protects his plates of meat: feet! The Oakley Elite Special Forces SI Assault Boots--which are lightweight athletic design and have moisture-control technology and incredible traction over a full range of terrain--allow the soldier added flexibility and comfort when on some of the toughest terrain in the world.

GS: Will this not give you and your team too much of an advantage on the battlefield?

CA: As a rule we tend to say, "Today's lethal weapon is technology...but on the battlefield you still need to survive!" What we are building is an added dimension of gameplay. We allow you to move your troops and get different viewpoints and control drones, and command Apache helicopters, and this is all cool, but when the s*** hits the fan you will still need to crouch, move, and destroy the enemy. The enemy doesn't really care that you have a cool high-tech suit on. They will just try to shoot you. The armor will protect you, but you are in no way invincible.

GS: Thanks for your time.

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