Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2

The Playstation 3 launched with several excellent titles; games like Resistance: Fall of Man kept gamers entertained and provided great promise for Playstation 3. However, while waiting for developers to truly get the hang of the system, allowing the creation of new franchises and top-quality titles to define the Playstation 3's life, there is a small void to fill. Conversions from the X-Box 360 are playing a part in providing temporary distractions while waiting for the Christmas rush. One such conversion is Ghost Recon Advanced Warfigher 2 and, like Oblivion, it is a rare commodity, in that the transfer to Playstation 3 has been handled competently and effectively. Where several lazy conversions have tainted Playstation 3's lineup and led people to suggest that PS3 isn't as powerful as Sony claim, GRAW 2 shows that titles on rival systems can easily look as good, provided that effort is put into the transfer. Obviously, PS3 owners everywhere will be waiting for the true power of the PS3 to be unleashed, but for now, it's good to see some sensible converted games appearing on PS3 to bolster the early lineup.

GRAW 2

GRAW 2 is, in many ways, an ideal complement to Resistance: Fall of Man. For those that enjoy shooting games, the two experiences are on opposite sides of the same coin. Where Resistance relies on big guns, fast moves and desperate firefights, GRAW takes a more steady approach, with the focus placed on stealth, tactics and a more precise form of combat. Operating as part of a squad, your character can take part in a series of varied missions, making use of a huge amount of modern, realistic weaponry, ranging from hand guns and grenades through to heavy assault rifles. Other gadgets such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, also play a role, providing surveillance information that you can use to plan assaults. The most important asset though, and one that the game does well to emphasize, is your team. Each character has their own strengths, allowing you to carefully plan where each character should be in any given arena. Moving through levels, it's important to exploit each character fully. While there is always the option to try a more Rambo-style approach, marching in and shooting everything in sight, it's likely that far more success will be achieved by carefully manoeuvring your team through the level.

As always, good squad mechanics are reliant on effective controls. Playing as Scott Mitchell, controlling your squad of Ghosts (elite soldiers) and fighting groups of Mexican rebels is made easy thanks to an effective squad control system, combined with excellent artificial intelligence. Simple pushes on the D Pad allow you to command your allies into appropriate locations, with commands dictating how aggressive the AI should be, and what sort of posture they should adopt. Your team will also be supported, on occasion, by an All-Terrain Vehicle, providing ammunition and weaponry to be slung around in certain levels. All support functions are easy to access, thanks to the game's intuitive control scheme, and there are also a few motion-sensitive features added for the PS3 version. Like Resistance though, they are kept to a minimum, which is certainly a good thing, including only simple things such as rolling your character when lying on the ground and a few basic vehicle controls.

GRAW 2

Graphically, thanks to (as mentioned already) an excellent conversion from the original game, the game looks very good, though arguably not as spectacular as Resistance: Fall of Man or Motorstorm. There are certainly moments of genius though with, for example, a moment involving an assault on a tank rolling through a village area. The resulting explosion sends smoke billowing through the village and past buildings, lending real atmosphere to the experience. The character models are also decent (and arguably outdo the slightly waxy looking models of Resistance). All in all, the game is visually very tidy, even if it doesn't do anything particularly special.

The music in the game isn't beautifully inspired either, but does a reasonable job of building atmosphere. The score basically feels like a generic action film, doing no harm, but adding little extra to the experience. What really helps to improve the gameplay though are the sound effects and, pleasingly, the voice acting. Huge explosions, meaty gun sounds and subtle ambient noise are combined brilliantly to create a living, breathing environment to patrol through. Since stealthy play is often encouraged in the game, it's a relief that you don't have to spend the time wondering why the world doesn't feel alive. Most importantly, lending extra realism to the squad feel, character voices are very well done, with interesting and varied dialog. It wouldn't quite be right to go as far as saying that it makes you care desperately about each squadmate, but it certainly makes you grow somewhat more attached to your fellow soldiers than many other squad-based games before it.

GRAW 2

The game also has decent lastability, not simply because the campaign is of reasonable length for a modern shooter, but because the game comes equipped with an excellent set of online modes. While there is a competitive game to play, with small (compared to Resistance: Fall of Man) groups able to take part in deathmatches and objective-based games, the main draw for many will be the online cooperative game. It is a feature lacking in many titles, and one that should be exploited far more as the PS3 evolves. Linking up with squadmates, you can take part in missions (slightly detached from the main story, but still set in the same world) against large numbers of AI opponents. Objectives include setting explosives, scouting particular areas, taking on particularly strong enemies and more. Each member of the party must also choose a class of character, with traditional soldier and special ops options providing genuinely different experiences. Success in cooperative games is also reliant on effective teamwork, with players having to help heal eachother to make it through the missions. The only downside is that, in this game, once a player has fallen, and no ally arrives to heal them immediately, then that player will be excluded for the remainder of the match, which can certainly dent the enjoyment. Still, the cooperative feature is very welcome, and something that other developers should take note of.

Overall, there's little to criticize in the game, other than it doesn't do anything particularly spectacular. It ticks a lot of boxes, and by including a cooperative mode it scores significant extra points, but it is best described as a solid shooter, rather than an awe-inspiring one. It's an excellent conversion from the 360, which makes a nice change from some of the recent lazy efforts, and the game helps to augment Playstation 3's early lineup, but this title feels like it is only a temporary filler, while PS3 owners everywhere await the major rush of new games before Christmas.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Ubisoft

Developer:

Ubisoft

Players:

1

Online:

1-16

Release:

2007-08-24

Trophies:

0

Review summary

Gameplay:

Tense military action and great tactical play

Graphics:

A decent conversion to PS3; above average

Sound:

Decent effects and voice work

Lastability:

Reasonable challenge and online co-op

8.2

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