Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 Review

The PC version of GRAW 2 is custom-built for the platform, and it's so difficult that it appears to have been custom-built for masochists, as well.

Ghost Recon is a franchise that was born on the PC, so it was nice last year when Ubisoft commissioned a separate version of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter that was built directly for the PC instead of merely porting over the Xbox 360 game of the same name. That way, Xbox 360 gamers could get a third-person action game while PC gamers could get a hardcore first-person shooter. That trend continues with Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, which again comes in a separate PC version that's tailored for the platform. Nevertheless, you'll need to be a pretty die-hard fan of extremely unforgiving combat to get through this one.

GRAW 2 is sort of like spring break in Mexico. Only, there's no beach, and plenty of assault rifles.

GRAW 2 picks up immediately after the events of the first game, though you needn't have played it to understand what's going on. Mexican rebels have some nukes and are setting up shop next to the Texas border, and you, as a member of an elite U.S. Army Special Forces unit, must stop them. While the PC version features entirely new levels and environments, it does lift many of the story elements and voice-overs from the Xbox 360 version. In essence, this is basically a retelling of the Xbox 360 game.

The major difference between the two versions is that the Xbox 360 is much more action focused, while the PC is a lot more simulation heavy. It's a huge difference. You can sprint your way through the Xbox 360 game, knowing that you can heal up easily whenever you hit a resupply point. In the PC version, the pace is a lot slower and more methodical. If you try to run-and-gun through you'll get cut down within seconds. It's all about moving slowly, using cover, and suppressing the enemy with cover fire. You have a fairly small health bar, and it can be drained relatively quickly. Even worse, a hit in the wrong place will kill you no matter what, so the PC version is very much one shot, one kill. And if you do manage to find a place to resupply, you do not heal.

While this kind of realistic authenticity is the hallmark of Ghost Recon games on the PC, GRAW 2 is a lot tougher than its predecessors. Part of that is the nature of the gameplay, which is very unforgiving, but it's also due to the huge size of the levels. You have to carefully ration your health bar or else you'll find yourself in a bad spot. For instance, if you take a couple of hits early on, it's usually best to just start the mission over because odds are you'll never survive the middle and later parts of the level, especially since you can't heal. There is a quick save and a quick load that you'll need to use early and often, as you'll get cut down without warning a lot. And this was on the easiest difficulty setting. Trying to play at the default difficulty is murder.

Your squad can provide cover fire and support, but they also die easily.

If that weren't bad enough, GRAW 2 also likes to put you in a lot of really difficult--dare we say unfair--tactical situations. The end level has a helicopter drop you off in the middle of a bridge, with one end garrisoned by Mexican rebels armed with rocket launchers and heavy machine guns. If you manage to survive that, you'll next face an attack by troops and vehicles, and then have to take down a helicopter, and then attack the other end of a bridge defended by snipers and machine gunners, and so on. It's a lot to tackle in a single mission, and it will undoubtedly require a lot of trial and error.

You do have up to three other soldiers at your command, as well as various support elements such as aerial recon drones and the ability to call in air strikes or artillery. The squad controls are fairly simple because they're context sensitive. Simply move the cursor onscreen and you'll tell the squad to move to that spot or attack it. Unfortunately, the artificial intelligence, while sharp, isn't sharp enough. It's pretty good about using cover, but nowhere near as good as a human mind. It's not hard for your guys to get cut down behind you, which at times makes them more of a hindrance. The better missions in the game are the ones that have you going almost lone wolf. It's during these levels that the PC version shines, as you don't need to worry about micromanaging the squad and can go around stalking the enemy.

The PC version does allow a bit more freedom in mission setup: you can select the troopers that go with you, as well as custom-outfit their gear, choosing from different weapons and accessories, like grenade launchers, scopes, and silencers. (If a trooper is cut down, he's unavailable for later missions.) The only thing that this mode needs is a way to save a loadout so you can easily outfit your team with the same gear. Instead, you have to load out each trooper separately, a somewhat annoying process.

Aside from the sheer difficulty of the game, the other hit against the PC version is its drabness. The game recycles much of the textures and buildings from its predecessor, so the slums of Juarez look almost identical to the industrial areas of Mexico City. The game is dominated by its brown-and-yellow palette, and the color scheme is so bland and lifeless that it sucks a lot of life out of the otherwise solid graphic engine. You'd be hard-pressed to find something in the game that's a bright red or green or blue. Even the skies feel oppressive. The Xbox 360 did a much better job of actually creating environments that felt like they had some color and culture to them. The PC version feels like it's set in what appears to be the dullest and driest place on Earth.

If you can get through the single-player campaign you'll be an army of one.

The multiplayer options are nicely fleshed out. There are some cooperative gameplay levels, though the single-player campaign itself isn't playable in co-op. Then there's deathmatch and team modes, such as hamburger hill (one team holds a hill as long as possible against the other) as well as recon-versus-assault, which is an objective-based mode that tasks one team on defense and the other on offense. There's enough here to keep you busy for a good, long while, which is sort of the point. And multiplayer has always been one of Ghost Recon's strengths.

While the difficulty will undoubtedly be one of the things that the dedicated fans of the series will look forward to, GRAW 2 raises the challenge bar to a new level. That said, if you're looking for a relatively quick and painless shooting experience, look elsewhere. If you want to experience a brutal battlefield where death can happen suddenly, then check out GRAW 2.

The Good
Gameplay comes close to capturing the infantry experience
Sizeable multiplayer suite with a mix of co-op and competitive missions
The Bad
Punishing and unforgiving difficulty that will make you cry, even on "easy"
Universally drab color palette sucks the life out of the game
7
Good
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9 comments
ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

is the multiplayer active? (2.49$ on steam!)

DraugenCP
DraugenCP

There is a mistake in this review: you actually can play the campaign in co-op. It can be selected from the server type, so it's easy to overlook.

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

any1 looking cos it'll be around ~5$ tomorrow?

tuarciano
tuarciano

I did finish the game in the hardest difficulty but i think it's still easier than GRAW due to quick save.

obikwan03
obikwan03

Just one word, HARD, im stuck since 2010..

abhisheksimion
abhisheksimion

This game is so awesome. I played this game in normal difficulty and until last stage I didn't knew there was quick save. You've got very little health bar and you got to stick to walls and check each corner. Plan your moves cautiously, look out for snipers and tanks. Keep a sniper in your team, make him shoot long range enemies. Sometimes demolition helps too with extra KABOOM. I felt like playing something like Shadow Watch only in first person view. 10/10 Please suggest some games which are similar to this one. Thanks

Atrax2k8
Atrax2k8

Dont know why, but not up until a month ago, i grabbed GRAW for the first time since it was released, I was never really into tactical shooters so I didn't even bother when it was released. And now, I've played through the GRAW and GRAW2 campaign (on normal difficulty), and I'm just HOOKED! The game is really hard, but not in a frustrating way, not for dumb reasons. If you take your time, if you play slowly and carefully, if you REALLY check your corners and watch for snipers, the game becomes a beast to play. I simply love it. It was hard for me to accept this slow paced gameplay, but not until I've played through both games, I didn't realize how arcade and unrealistic COD and similar popular titles are. This is just epic. And the fact that the game is really demanding and hard should not be a minus or a degrading factor, you simply have to forget EVERYTHING you have learned from COD, and play the game as a almost real life situation. I would really like to see GRAW3 in the future, since Future Soldier is nothing like this. It'll be a good game, but it's a totally different gaming experience than GRAW. My ratin 10/10. Although, the graphics really are bland and boring, but at least sharp and very good FPS on max setings.

Hanif_shadow
Hanif_shadow

Well I have played GRAW but it wasn't THAT hard, I think I'll buy GRAW2 cause even if it is hard, I'm a hardcore gamer...

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (0000) More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 3 more
    • PSP
    • Wii
    • Xbox 360
    Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter returns for a second showing of tactical shooting excitement.
    8.4
    Average User RatingOut of 11973 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Ubisoft Paris, GRIN, Red Storm Entertainment, High Voltage Software
    Published by:
    Ubisoft, Focus Multimedia
    Genres:
    Tactical, Shooter, First-Person, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Language, Violence