Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter review

  • Riveting plot
  • Eye-shattering visuals
  • Many paths for completing objectives
  • Not enough control over your squad
  • Paralytically challenging
  • Moral quandary over so much killing

You're pinned down, crouched low behind a car while bullets play a tinny percussion on the mangled remnants of the car's bumper. One of your men screams a cry of pain into your headset as he drops to the ground writhing. The dusty, sun-drenched pavement of Mexico City begins to look more and more like the most likely site for your headstone - but as long as there is one ounce of fight left in you, you must reach your objective and pull your men the hell out of here.

Sending the remainder of your battered squad behind a pile of smoking rubble, you lob a smoke grenade and drop onto your belly in a commando crawl and begin inching your way over to the safety of a cement planter box. Your injured man needs a medic, but first you've got to overcome the intense shelling these Mexican rebels are giving you.

Your man Ramirez gets a shot off from behind the rubble, dropping an enemy rifleman just as you poke your head out from behind the planter. And that's when it hits you: the audible punch of the bullet through your helmet indicating only a fraction of a second too late the presence of a sniper on the roof of another building. The world sinks into inky blackness as your commanding officer yells into your ear, "Mitchell: status? Mitchell ... Mitchell!"

There is no choice at this point but to hit the A button and try to remember the placement of that sniper for your next try. Putting the controller down is not an option because the fate of the free world sits astride your shoulders ... and who wants to quit playing one of the greatest tactical shooters of all time anyway? Without question, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter compels you through each level, thanks to a primal-feeling plot, tons of options for executing your missions and a tremendously tweakable multiplayer component.

While GRAW's storyline takes a little while to grab you, it slowly builds up your acquaintance to the characters and then delivers wild twists that completely broadside you with disaster after disaster. Here's the setup: upstart General Carlos Ontiveros has staged a massive coup on the Mexican government that includes a daring assault on the American embassy in Mexico City. As Scott Mitchell, the leader of Ghost Team, you must rescue those trapped at the embassy and halt Ontiveros's scheme of world (or at least Mexican) domination. It's a simple hook, but it doesn't take long for everything to fall apart. Once the bullets start whizzing and fighting gets thick, it's just one staggering problem after the next. Just when you think your mission has been accomplished, something extremely pivotal to your success explodes in a ball of fire that knocks you to the ground ... and it happens over and over again.

You're not without tools, however, and your repertoire of weapons gives you a chance against the hordes of Mexican rebels hurling live ammo and Spanish curses at you. Set in the near future, GRAW gives you the most technologically-advanced gear that the geatest world superpower has to offer. Your Cross-com (a little communications window in the upper left-hand corner of your vision) patches you into every other unit even remotely related to your situation, including: the squad-mates under your command, commanding officers, heavies like tanks and Apache helicopters and even a little remote-controlled drone that can scout out dangerous areas that lie ahead.

As a professional soldier, you can execute a variety of maneuvers like vaulting low obstacles, diving into a prone position and taking cover behind virtually any vertically flat surface - all of which you must perform with alarming frequency if you hope to survive. As though you didn't have enough munitions delivery systems (aka guns), you can always snake weapons from your fallen victims and use them yourself.

The multiplayer side of the game is at least as immense as the single-player campaign, providing missions in both co-op and competitive flavors. There are a ton of options you can alter, such as the length of rounds, frequency and location of respawns, weapons load-outs and a slew of other features. Voice support enables groups to coordinate and accomplish the co-operative objectives as tactically or haphazardly as you might desire. Competitive rounds can vary from fast and frantic to deliberate and strategic, depending on what kind of folks you are playing with, and you can adjust the search criteria if you have a particular style of game in mind. No matter what kind of GRAW experience you're looking for, there is sure to be at least 15 other players (the maximum per game is a whopping 16) online and ready to either perforate you or help you perforate others.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is a game of monolithic proportions that will completely swallow your free time. There exist at least three distinct tactical shooter games in this one package: the single-player campaign, the multiplayer co-op and the multiplayer competitive. It is the best use of your 360 currently on the market and, whether you know it yet or not, the reason you bought one in the first place.

More Info

Release date: May 03 2006 - PC
Mar 15 2006 - Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2 (US)
Available Platforms: PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Tiwak, Red Storm, Grin, Ubisoft Montreal
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Language, Violence

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