Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
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I have to admit, I was surprised when I heard that GRAW 2 was already done, less than a year after the original game. However, based on my appreciation for the first game, I was more than happy to pick up the sequel. And I'm happy I did! Don't let the early release dissuade you from checking out the quality of this game. The end result is more than solid. To say GRAW 2 has good graphics is an understatement. The new lighting system is impressive, and the overall look of the game is much sharper than before. There is some fantastic scenery in the game, and sometimes you will find yourself enthralled by the little graphical bells and whistles here and there, such as the live TV broadcasts that take place in your Humvee or Black Hawk Helicopter. The textures, wind effects and explosions all have been upgraded, and they look phenomenal. Sound is also very good in the game. Not only do your guns sound and look realistic, but your A.I. squad buddies now speak up a lot more. And most of the time, they actually have useful information to report, such as pointing out the bad guys standing next to the truck across the street. These subtle additions really boost the credibility of the game's atmosphere, and pull you into the action. There are some new additions to GRAW 2, primarily the new "MULE" ground resupply car and the use of a medic. While the MULE is cool the first time you see it, it really doesn't add anything to the core gameplay of the game. It serves the same purpose as the resupply truck from the last game, except that it can follow you around. It would have been much more interesting if the MULE actually had turrets or some other offensive capabilities. While the MULE is a mixed addition to the game, medics are quite useful, even though they decrease the game's difficultly substantially in comparison to the first GRAW. The Cross-com system has also been updated, and the changes are mostly for the better. Now you can look through your A.I. buddies helmut camera to see what he's seeing. This adds to your overall grasp of the battlefield and improves your situational awareness, as you would expect it to do. The use of overhead drones is also much improved. You can now get a real-time satellite view of the battlefield, which is much more fun and interesting to use than those in the first game. It's too bad; however, that the game doesn't develop other uses for the drones. It would have been great to have the option of using predator drones capable of firing Hellfire missiles as well. Maybe that'll be added to the next sequel. In terms of level design, there are some truly great missions in the game. You will distinctly remember your favorites, such as a night-time Black Hawk raid on a Mexican army base in the middle of a rainstorm. The environmental and lighting effects will "wow" you. Unfortunately, it's a shorter game than its predecessor, and it feels like it's over sooner than you think. But then there's the multiplayer, and thankfully, the online options provide an impressive amount of replay value. There are many customizeable game types this time around, and to the designer's credit, the graphics look just as good in multiplayer as they do in single player, which is quite an accomplishment. I'll go ahead and say it: if you liked GRAW, go ahead and buy GRAW 2, you won't be disappointed.