Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 - first look

As you'd expect, the development team has raised the bar considerably in terms of technical achievements: explosions look so real you want to duck for cover, you can almost feel the heat from fires and gazing at a thick funnel of smoke makes your eyes sting. Make no mistake - GRAW 2's near futuristic battleground is going to look and feel like a real, run-or-you'll-get-a-rocket-up-your-wazoo war zone.

In addition to creating a more palpably tense, dramatic atmosphere, the advancements in tech magickery has an impact on gameplay. Smoke, for example, can conceal enemies and, while using the Cypher is one way to spot guerrillas in the mist, you can also use a helicopter's down draft to blow the smoke away.

Real-time day/night cycles and weather have also been implemented and, again, these have an effect on the overall mood as sun-soaked streets slowly darken as night falls or storm clouds gather overhead. It's worth noting that GRAW 2 will be much wetter, not just from rain but also because of its geographical positioning - after all, the Rio Grande runs through El Paso.

Above: A newly implemented real-time day/night cycle has a dramatic effect on the ambiance of the environment.

When all the new elements that we've mentioned - and some that we haven't, like the ability to take up positions on rooftops and the introduction of civilians - are combined, how players tackle missions will be dramatically different compared to the previous GRAW.

Indeed, Ubisoft told us that there will be no right way to play and that players who experiment with their tactics will be rewarded with Achievement points.

So then, more tactical paths through the battlefield, more boom to the explosions, more power to the AI, more oomph for the firepower - GRAW 2 promises to improve on its predecessor in ways that far exceed our expectations and we salute Ubisoft's Paris team as it powers further into next-gen territory.