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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter



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Impact: Memorable

INTRO


In the time when good gameplay is being traded for high budget eye candy aimed to capture as much attention as possible, it is easy to forgive a player who approaches Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter with a certain caution. Another recent tactical creation from Ubisoft, Rainbow Six Lockdown, greatly disappointed some fans of the series with its shallow execution. Advanced Warfighter has been advertised for a long time before it hit the Xbox 360. After a while it has finally arrived on the PC, and now we get to see if it's as good as it appears to be.


GAMEPLAY


The story resides around you, as cpt. Mitchell, and your Ghosts team that's been sent into the Mexico City as a help package from the US to the Mexican president that has recently lost his country to a coup. The missions will entrust you with eliminating targets, escorting, designating targets for aerial strikes, saving the president; in short, the usual tasks of an extremely elite special operations team.


The idea behind this GR game is to give a player a glimpse into the reality of the way wars will be fought in the near future. Obviously, a certain amount of innovation is expected. One of the most important things in any warfare is information. The map in GRAW is, in fact, a real time satellite video feed. It’s a great help in locating enemies before they locate you. It eases the gameplay to a certain point, but a careless use of this feature will result in your team getting wiped out by the enemies who remained hidden from view under tree canopies or roofs. Apart from the satellite view, the player has access to the view of each team member through a mini cam. This feature is not particularly useful, but it doesn't have to be. Some things are fun just because they exist. In missions where the player is on his own he can also rely on a UAV (Unmanned Arial Vehicle) to be an extra pair of eyes in the air. Once the enemy is detected at a certain range by a team member or the UAV, the enemy is marked for easy tracking.


You start your operations by parachuting out of an airplane. As you fall you see the whole of Mexico City stretching to the horizon. The integrated into the first mission tutorial quickly makes you realise that, unlike the previous Ghost Recon games, this time you will not be given direct control of your team members. Instead you're given an easy to use interface that allows you to send your team mates where your aim points or by assigning positions on the map. Advanced Warfighter will make you encounter all kind of vehicles, both on the ground as in the air. Yes, they can all be blown to smithereens.


It is natural that an elite team must be armed appropriately. Much of the weaponry in Advanced Warfighter is barely off the drawing boards. New age rifles like XM8 are still in some people’s memory from the exhibition of 2004. Many of these weapons can be modified with mods like grenade launchers, scopes and silencers. These modifications increase some features while decreasing others. Beside the player has to watch his weight limit, as coming close to it will decrease performance.


The AI is probably the game’s both best and worst feature. Your team mates have a tactical mind of their own and they will move carefully from cover, peek from it, report enemies and shoot with grenade launchers, not only bullets. The complexity of AI also causes complex problems, as at times your team mates will have a problem figuring how to execute your order even if the order is to get to some place only meters away. Sometimes they will simply move back and forth a few steps trying to make sense of your order. At other times they will decide to take a huge detour, getting themselves killed in the process, of course. As for taking cover, Ghosts sometimes position themselves with their backs exposed to the enemy.


The enemy poses an interesting challenge. When you’re detected, enemies will open suppressive fire to keep you pinned down behind cover. They will often keep moving around and some of them might make it into your flanks, although it seems to be more of a coincidence rather than a developed AI.


GRAPHICS


At maximum graphic settings GRAW will reward you with a highly destructible environment and superb texture quality. However, the promise of this feature might as well have been written with a fork on water. In order to play this game on maximum settings one is required to have a 512 MB video card and an extra physics card installed. Such a requirement puts the real price of this game at a number that will give any casual gamer a heart attack. The value of the game does suffer as a result, but a reasonable level of graphic enjoyment can be achieved with medium settings. The view distance, apparent at any high point, is perhaps the longest in the gaming history. Effects are at a more than decent level, as heat sources give off realistic heat waves and. Physics are fine too at medium settings. Glass shatters, tires get pierced and the ground is littered with trash that's being thrown aside when stumbled upon. Pieces of rock splinter off stone surfaces with sparks.


CONCLUSION


It doesn't flow as smooth like a river, but Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter for PC partially escapes the recent marketing curse and is able to give a player a lot of fun with its tactical system. The unrealistic graphic requirements keep the game's full potential hidden from most players, yet what is available is not too bad at all. The AI could use some tweaking and, actually the whole game could use some polishing, but GRAW does provide a satisfying tactical experience and shouldn’t let down neither a casual gamer nor the fans of the series.