Aug 20, 2007
After last year's disappointing and watered-down PS2 port of the first GRAW title, this is PlayStation's first proper look at Ubisoft's reinvigorated tactical shooter. An extension of the original Ghost Recon series, Advanced Warfighter is set a little further into the future - we're now shooting the happy residents of 2014 - and is more heavily focused on the sophisticated battle gear of tomorrow than the early titles. It's also a massive graphical leap over its predecessors, showcasing incredibly human character models and "so life-like we must actually be watching Fox News"-style battlegrounds.
First up, though, a little warning. Plot-wise the game's pretty much Blu-ray-pressed US propaganda, with a massive thing for the American military. The basics are that you and your top-secret Ghost team are sent charging into Mexico to slap down a rebel uprising and restore democracy. While we're used to jingoistic wargames, GRAW's flat out endorsement of shooting stuff - cutscenes criticising anti-war media coverage, obligatory use of WMDs as a plot device - really lays it on thick. Those of you with an ounce of intelligence will feel a little insulted, while regular Guardian readers may need to have a lie-down between levels.
The best thing to do is ignore as much of the gung-ho stuff as possible, because underneath lies a complex, accomplished and brilliantly playable war sim. Sticking firmly in the Ghost Recon tradition, Advanced Warfighter 2 strives for realism more than sensationalism. There are tons of checkpoints and rendezvous-making, securing of areas and maintaining perimeters. The actual shooting feels a lot like we imagine real war might, in that it only takes a very small number of bullets to kill someone, and if you don't hide nearly all the time you get shot very quickly. Unlike most war games, the emphasis is very much on thinking and planning your way through levels, rather than charging in, absorbing enemy fire and blasting everything in sight.