GRAW 2 or Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfare 2, to give it its full name, will run on XBox 360 and PC when it’s released in March (the PS3 should be arriving late-spring) but I was able to get to play it at a small, exclusive First Look event.
I’ll fess-up straight away. I’m a huge fan of the original Ghost Recon that first came out on the original Xbox. The game looked great, the missions were compelling and the co-operative multi-player via xBox Live! was like no other game I’d played. So much so, that you actually cared about the random strangers that you were playing with.
The single and multi player versions of the X360 were available for our willing hands. Both were highly impressive, but most of my comments will apply to the multi-player version.
The work on GRAW2 started during the closing stages of the development when the original GRAW was completed. GRAW being their first game on the then-next-gen consoles. Although united within the game, the two versions were developed separately – the Multi-player by Red Storm and the Single by Ubisoft’s Paris office.
The over-riding brief was to improve the customisation, ramp up the detail even further and to expand the weaponry to include the leading edge of killing things that the US military and special forces use.
The selection of arms is massive, stretching to include a new unmanned ground-drone called ‘M.U.L.E.’, giving the player mobile cover and ground reconnaissance, while also serving as a mobile weapon station.
Frankly the game looks stunning. A real visual feast with amazing detail.
The screen shots give you an idea, but won’t tell you the full story, as the real-time effects are what really bring the impressive dimension to this game.
The light and shade are dynamically generated, so anything passing between you and the sun, will cast its own accurate shadow. During missions, realism is heightened by the changes of lighting conditions as they would in the real world, with smooth transitions between the four lighting scenarios.
That sort of detail is also extended to the incidentals. Smoke is effected by changes in wind direction, so you can imagine the kind of complexity that is created when helicopters get involved and blow the smoke around. It’s details like this that can’t fail to impress.
While effects like this will be heighten realism, you’re also able to do things that aren’t possible in the real world. When you’re in the single player game you guide your team buddies around to different locations, but … and here’s the really cool bit … you’re able to disconnect your retainers and see though your team mates eyes using CrossComm 2.0. This isn’t a poxy mini view, but a full screen view, really letting you see the details.
When you select this feature, the transition is a neat pixilation of the screen, that sharpens when you join your buddies eyes.
This visual switch is also available with the M.U.L.E., the ground drone.
It’s full of superb detail, even in the transition between missions. Almost to prove the power of the X360, the transition isn’t just a dull static loading screen, but interactive scenes. The example we saw was a helicopter trip over a wrecked city that could be scanned around, while the next section is loading.
The second part of the GRAW 2 review, will be going into the details that really make this game special. Also listen to our exclusive audio interview with Christian Allen, Creative Director of Red Storm.