It is 2013 and the Ghosts are back, in full force on the Xbox 360. Tom Clancy’s: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, otherwise known as GRAW to save on ink is the next instalment of the extremely popular tactical shooter series that had its humble beginnings on the PC.
GRAW marks the first true step towards a decent next generation console title and proves that you can teach an old dog, new tricks.Story
2013 and in a typical Clancy-esque manner things are hotting up for a hostile takeover in a foreign country. You’re back as Captain Scott Mitchell and armed to the teeth with new weapons, equipment and new tactical options thanks to advances in military R&D.
You’re pulled away from training and thrown right into the thick of things when one of your squad is pinned down under enemy fire.Gameplay
Because GRAW is a console game first and foremost it doesn’t have the control options that a similar game might have on PC. Does it suffer for this? No, not at all - thanks to the elegant control method and extremely helpful interface and redesigned HUD system.
You can pick from several difficulty settings, but be warned, GRAW is a pretty hard game on the easiest setting until you get used to how things work.
The control system is intuitive and thanks to a quick tutorial, you’re able to get to grips with the basic features right away. The tutorial explains several elements of the game and the pacing is just right: from how to use cover and take down enemies from around walls and corners, to commanding your squad in simulated combat to achieve various goals.
Scott is an extremely responsive character and reacts well as you move him about; the analogue control system allows for slow movement or with slightly more pressure you can advance to a full blown run. A quick tap on the left stick will throw Scott to his knees into a crouch, whilst moving or holding down the left stick will cause Scott to throw himself prone again whilst on the move at a full run.
Attaching and detaching from a wall or cover is pretty simple, it is a case of pushing against the wall and Scott should slide up against it. Once attached you can move backwards and forwards along the wall, tap the right bumper to switch direction and peek out to get a good look at the situation.
The Y button carries out context sensitive actions for Scott, such as leaping over a wall, planting explosives or taking control of M60 mounted machine gun nests etc.
X toggles your Night Vision, holding it down allows you to select equipment in the menu.
B swaps between weapons, holding it down allows you to quickly scroll and get to the right weapon.
A reloads your gun, holding it down changes the rate of fire.
Clicking the right stick in allows you to activate a weapon scope if you have one; some weapons have more than one zoom level.
So far it’s pretty standard stuff and you pick it up quickly.
You can carry one rifle and one pistol, dead bodies can be rifled for ammo and in some places you’ll be down to just your pistol if you don’t start stealing from the dead terrorists.
A new feature to GRAW is the advanced communications system that is based on the US military’s designs for the Future Soldier/Advanced Warfighter project. The Cross-com is a monocle device that allows the soldier to receive Intel directly into his HUD, from operational support units and external media feeds. It provides a full communication system and is tied into the Global Information Grid.
The Cross-com also gives a soldier or assets’ eye view of the action. Several assets can be used in the game, and these are tanks, helicopters and the rather nifty UAV recon drone.
Scott can give out orders with the D-Pad, tapping left or right switches between the Ghost squad and the asset on hand. You can press up on the D-Pad to issue an order based on context sensitivity – so if you’re tied into a helicopter asset and your reticule is aimed at a nearby tank, you can press up and order an attack against it. This is true for your Ghost squad as well.
Pressing up on the D-pad moves the Ghosts to the position the reticule is currently aiming at. Tapping the left bumper toggles the Ghosts between recon and aggressive modes, changing the way they react to threats.
You can also use the Cross-com to order your assets, and in the case of the UAV the left bumper toggles between standby and detect mode. The UAV is a new addition to the series and allows you to get a heads-up Intel on the flashpoint, you can move it around and quickly drop it down to scan for enemies – be careful though some of the bad guys don’t take kindly to having a drone around their private parties and will open fire.
GRAW allows you to experience different kinds of missions, from lone operations where you’re cut off from your squad or sent in to cause some damage on your own to missions where you start of in charge of a helicopter mounted mini-gun before landing and hoofing the rest of the way on foot.
What is nice about the game and I really love the way this was done, each mission is part of the overall campaign and flows from one to the other, there’s very little in the way of loading time on the 360 version and the execution of these story based elements is flawless. You’re updated via Cross-com either from your support assets or a quick media report, Generals give you Intel or update other assets on the battlefield – it all adds to making the game come alive, Mitchell interacts with the other characters in face to face situations and basically it feels less like a game and more like a movie.