XBOX REVIEW: TOM CLANCY'S GHOST RECON: ADVANCED WARFIGHTER

G.R.A.W. returns to the FPS genre but doesn't live up to the standards of the series, both past and present. by Cole Smith

March 17, 2006 - Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (GRAW) is not the same game as the Xbox 360 version. This is an imitation of that great game and is sure to disappoint any fans who have played the superior next gen version. With so many of the extra features missing that once set this series apart from the pack, this version is reduced to that of a run-of-the-mill first-person shooter.

There is no comparison between this version of GRAW and the 360 version, at least not any good comparisons. If the soldiers in the 360 version are the highly-trained elite of the military, the soldiers in this version are mere grunts. They don't have the moves or the same weapons skill. And the gadgets they get, including the HUD are all inferior. The story may be the same and the mission may have the same objectives but the way they play out is something different altogether.

Captain Scott Mitchell is the commander of the four-person Ghost Recon squad that employs advanced weapons, tactics and communications to carry out extremely sensitive missions. In this story, the Prime Minister of Canada has been killed during a Summit meeting in Mexico City. The presidents of both the United States and Mexico have been kidnapped by a terrorist group that have also managed to get its hands on the keys to a nuclear device. It's your duty to track down and rescue the presidents in addition to capturing or eliminating the terrorist leader and regain control of the nuclear device. It's standard action fare at it most hackneyed.

You only have control over one of your teammates. He kills his fair share of enemies but he needs some micromanagement as he tends to get stuck in some rather inconvenient locations that even a child could get out of. It doesn't help that your character's moves are also limited. You can't climb over even the smallest of obstacles and you can't lie prone. This is particularly irritating when you are trying to use the sniper rifle and scope. You can lie down and stabilize it. It drifts all over the place like you're in the middle of windstorm, making it very frustrating to line up ranged shots. The HUD will give you stats on your ammo and health and it also has a series of windows in which you will receive visual information. One window displays digital images from your teammate's helmet cam and another will show your superiors as they issue you new commands and missions.

The missions are exactly what you would expect from such a game but as with all Ghost Recon games the fun is in the details. There are always lots of interesting weapons and gadgets to use as well as some strategy in these games but unfortunately Advanced Warfighter for the Xbox seems to relegate a lot of elements to the backburner in favor of focusing on first-person shooting. The missions themselves are somewhat varied but the actual gameplay lacks depth and sophistication.

Taking place in the sprawling metropolis of Mexico City, the various locations are boldly distinct but whether you're in the slums or in the heart of the downtown area, the generic shacks or buildings are continually repeated eliminating any subtleties that would give the locations some character. Sure there is the requisite Mexican architecture and local flora such as palm trees and cactus which adds some authenticity but the interior locations are very generic and could be anywhere. Mexico City is huge, one of the largest cities in the world, and therefore you can expect a rather large map that included ancient ruins, a shantytown, upper class neighborhoods and Camp Chapultepec. The city is shrouded in a constant fog which keeps draw distance to a minimum but it could also be said that it's a replication of the smog that is so heavy during the winter months due to climate conversion.

Missions include infiltration, rescue, escort and defense. While there is some stealth and you can occasionally call in backup from other units such as snipers and choppers. Most of the action sequences you'll be running and gunning, more out of a lack of being able to properly execute moves to do otherwise. In the game's defense, the enemy AI is more realistic than a lot of similarly styled games. They will take cover when being shot at and will become alerted to your presence when you do make noise or fire a weapon.

I can't complain about the graphics or animation. I haven't seen any improvements over the last version, Summit Strike, but that was a damn good looking game in the first place. The voiceovers and sound effects are strong although there are some glitches that cause them to sputter or be delayed. These flaws are just another pockmark on an otherwise pretty face.

There are multitudes of ways to enjoy the multi-player modes including a split screen, link system or Live online. The co-op mode can be played on or off line and up to 12 players can take part in link or online versions of games such as Last Man Standing and other frag fest favorites. You can expect things such as leaderboards, friends lists and squad creation. There's nothing really special about these multi-player modes but I have to admit that the two-player co-op was the highlight of the game for me. Since you have to play the single-player mode with a bot you might as well recruit another human to assist you in your missions.

It's almost as though this game was made poorly on purpose so that the superiority of 360 would be felt like a kick to the head with a spiked boot. The message is that Xbox owners now have something to feel ashamed about - their crappy little Xbox.

Features:

  • Next-generation gaming technology: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 3 is built from the ground up for next-generation consoles, maximizing increased power to deliver phenomenal graphics and a host of innovative features. Current-generation versions will be custom-tailored for each platform.
  • Become the soldier of the future: Gain access to the future of military technology. Using a fully integrated combat system with cutting-edge weapons and communication systems, gamers will embody the soldier of the future.Based on actual military research, the Ghosts give gamers a realistic view of how war will be fought in the next decade.
  • Revolutionary feature: Use the revolutionary Cross-Com, a communication device powered by satellite technology. Attached to the soldier's monocle, the Cross-Com provides full situational awareness and command of the battlefield. Command the Ghost squad and remote allied forces and drones, and direct artillery and air strikes. See what the squad sees and receive visual and auditory intelligence from allied forces and unmanned drones.
  • Stunning urban environment: One capital, multiple locations. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon(R) 3 takes place entirely in Mexico City, one of the world's largest cities. A stunning, meticulously detailed universe will provide complete immersion in the urban war of the future.
  • Top-notch multiplayer experience: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon(R) 3 returns to deliver industry-leading multiplayer and cooperative gameplay for one of the hottest online franchises.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (Xbox)
4.2
Graphics
Nothing innovative in the graphics departments. Still coasting on the Summit Strike engine.
2.7

Control
There are plenty of control issues with the character's moves and the weapons that force a change in the nature of the gameplay that results in less tactics and more first-person shooting.

4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Even the good voiceovers and nicely recorded sound effects suffer from trigging glitches which cause them to sputter and delay.
2.5
Play Value
There are various on and offline multi-player modes available but none of them come close to the superior 360 versions.
3.1
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: Xbox
Dev: Ubi Soft
Pub: Ubi Soft
Release: Mar 2006
Players: 1 -16 Online
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best