Ghost Recon is a franchise which has been around for a long while. Debuting on the PC many moons ago, it gave players control of a squadron in a format similar to Ubisoft's other tactical shooter, Rainbow Six. The difference was it was set in jungles around urban environments, and the focus was on not being seen rather than storming a location. Ghost Recon 2 continued this trend although it brought players closer to urban combat with the single player levels. Now we have Advanced Warfighter, where the transition is complete - pure urban combat for the Ghosts has arrived.
The storyline behind the game remains fairly similar across all platforms however the 360 will play it out differently in terms of how the story is rendered. The storyline is set in 2013 in Mexico City. The presidents of the US, Canada and Mexico are meeting for crisis talks in the Mexican capital when armed separatists try to take control of the city, and attempt a number of assassinations. When the proverbial poo hits the fan, the ghosts are called in and this is where you will come in. Having been dropped into the hot zone, it's up to you to get not only the VIPs, but yourselves out alive.
There are a lot of things which will be familiar to those who have played Ghost Recon before. For instance, most of the time you will be in control of a Squadron of up to four soldiers. It is here that one of the first changes becomes apparent. Due to the way the storyline is structured, and the way the game progresses, if Mitchell (the character you play throughout the game) becomes incapacitated, that's it, mission over. This definitely gives GR3 a much more Rainbow feel than the previous two games but looks to be a worthwhile trade off considering just how much effort Ubisoft is putting into the storyline and overall feel to the game.
Although the base of the game does remain the same, it is hard to look at the 360 version of the title and feel familiar. From the outset you will be dazzled and in awe at the technology on display in terms of military firepower. In fact it looks so dazzling it may scare you but Ubisoft has done a fantastic job with the controls. Even the most complex features of the game are controlled usually by one or two button presses. What really helps here is that the game is context sensitive. That is, when you approach objects, the game will automatically detect what actions you can perform. This allows one button to be used for multiple actions such as jump or duck etc.
Another big change is the squadron you can control. Of course you can control a number of units, however this is old hat and boring. Where the real fun comes in is when you are given control of a number of vehicles such as Tanks, APCs, Choppers and others. In the 360 version you can give commands to these vehicles and in fact it looks like you rely on these quite heavily. One of the most useful appears to be the unmanned recon vehicle, used to scout out upcoming locations.
The other major change is the fact that the game is set in one city. Each level is one block of a large grid, which comprises of the entire Mexican city. Unfortunately Ubisoft has not gone down the sandpit design here and you can't really go outside the mission area. Begin to do so and you're hud flashes and starts to receive interference, indicating a loss of communication. Lose communication too long and the mission is failed, with your character presumed MIA. The mission we saw is the second mission of the game and gave some indication as to just how detailed the city is. We were in absolute awe at the detail of the graphics and textures. While the game is not photorealistic just yet, there are points where you will have to do double take instinctively to realise it's actually a game on the screen.
Another big thing about this game is once you load it, you don't see another loading screen unless you load a saved game or map. This increases the immersion factor even further. Although the game does use loading screens, Ubisoft has cleverly masked them behind cut scenes and other non-interactive activities. This gives the feeling of one continuous game and once you start playing you will find this hard to put down.
Visually the game is looking absolutely spectacular. The physics and destruction engine appear second to none. If you do buy this game, go watch a Hollywood explosion in a multimillion dollar film, then watch a rocket hit a truck in GRAW. You will notice almost absolutely no difference. We can see people running around with rockets, just blowing things up to see the effects on display. One of the biggest explosions we saw involved a tanker, petrol station and rather large sign. We won't spoil it, but when you buy this game, you have to see it to believe it. Sound effects are also extremely well done. The voice acting seems to add quite a bit to the game, and you will notice when tensions rise, the actors become more panicked and appear to be losing control adding to the already intense atmosphere even further.
Ubisoft is promising a huge multiplayer portion to go with the single player however unfortunately the single player campaign will not be playable in the multiplayer campaign. Instead Ubisoft has included a different campaign set in Nicaragua for the multiplayer co-operative missions. Team vs Team will also be available and this will all be available to those with Xbox Live gold. Ubisoft is yet to comment on downloadable missions, but given their history it wouldn't surprise us.
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter is looking nothing short of amazing. If you've watched the trailers and found yourself salivating, then this is the game for you, because the trailers do the game absolutely no justice. If you ask us what will be the number one game for the Australian 360 launch, it does look like it'd be hard to look past Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter as the first must buy title of the next generation.
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