G.R.A.W. 2 (Xbox 360)
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 is the follow up to one of last year’s first blockbuster next-gen titles. Completed in less than a year, GRAW 2 still manages to bring all the action and excitement of it’s predecessor, but can feel a little light in content.
It's the year 2014, one year after the first game's events, and right away Captain Scott Mitchell is being put back into action to prevent and discharge several nuclear missiles that Mexican rebels have threatened to deploy on U.S. soil. Much like the first game, you can expect to encounter pretty much the same types of enemies, in the same deserted Mexican environments of last years iteration.
The graphics, while notably improved in some areas are still relatively the same as the first (i.e. gorgeous), which isn't really a bad thing. Some notable changes have been in the weather and lighting systems. Ubisoft took the extra effort to add a neat time of day feature that will basically, depending on how long you take to complete a mission, alter the sunlight and shadows in real time. Also improved is the smoke, which the developers improved by adding "volumetric clouds" to the game.
So, whats new?
GRAW 2 also adds some interesting mechanics to the core game, but you'll still find yourself reverting back to the same old tactics. New to the series is the Mule, which is basically an unmanned tank full of all the supplies and guns you need to complete your missions. Additionally, it provides for nice, movable cover. Unfortunately, it hardly ever gets used becase you will be granted access to it three times at most.
One of the better, and more effective changes made in GRAW 2 is the addition of Cross-Com full screen first person view. With this, you can bring up your teammate's camera full screen and command him from there. This is also the same for tanks, and helicopters. The full screen view also proves useful in using the UAV drone which allow you to take control of it rather than issuing specific commands to it.
The story, as it was in the first game is really just more of an excuse to blow things up, and shoot dudes in the face. In the beginning you're being debriefed from the first game's events when all of a sudden all hell breaks loose and Mexican rebels have acquired three nukes ready to be deployed to the U.S. of A.
You, as Scott Mitchell are in charge of tracking down each missile and neutralizing them before they make it onto U.S. soil. Mitchell is lead on various "capture this checkpoint and defend it" and "blow this up" missions until the final epic conclusion of the game (which may come as a shocker). Mitchell has 72 hours to clean things up before it gets hectic, which lends itself to a very 24-like environment.
I mentioned the term "epic" in the last paragraph, but the amount of time you will be playing GRAW 2's single player campaign mode will be everything but. One of the biggest problems with GRAW 2 is that just as it feels that you're starting to get in your groove with the game, it ends. It took no less than five or six hours to complete the campaign on the Guarded Risk (medium) difficulty.
"Okay, everybody mute your mics and check up..."
Any fan of the first GRAW's multi-player worth their salt should be all too familiar with the above quote, and the fact that you will be hearing it again is just inexcusable. Very rare is it that you can huddle up 16 of your buddies for a Team Deathmatch or Co-op Campaign game without losing somebody due to them lagging out. Which often results in starting the match over until you can get all your friends back in the game.
Multi-player should really be the sole reason to pick up GRAW 2. Fans of the Ghost Recon series expect a highly competitive, active community and you will get that with GRAW 2. The graphics have been greatly improved since the last game, but the recurring omission of sticking to cover is still quite a bummer.
The cooperative campaign, much like the first one is quite amazing. Working with 16 other people to complete objectives really brings a feeling of camaraderie among your fellow infantrymen and makes the difficult missions a great deal more fun.
Among other multi-player modes included are team elimination, team territory, team objective, team battle, team mission, and the solo variety of all of those categories. Most of the different gameplay modes won't really surprise any of the GRAW 1 veterans out there, but they did manage to sneak in a few new modes to keep gamers interests up.
The multi-player gameplay is still at it's core, basically the same as the first GRAW, which isn't really too much of a bad thing. The only improvement that feels like still needs to be addressed is the aforementioned cover situation. Unlike the single player experience you cannot take cover and peak your head out over the corner to surprise an enemy, rather you still have to the same lean to the left or right to scope out your enemies.
Tom Clancy's latest game is still one of the most solid multi-player and single player tactical shooters out there. However, if you are without an Xbox Live account it is hard to recommend this game to you. It's single player is just too short to warrant your USD $60. But if you do have Live and enjoyed the original, the multi-player experience alone could have you playing the game for the foreseeable future.