AI improves on the original; overhead maps add to the pre-planning fun; teammate shoulder-cams; addictive multiplayer.
The Ghost Whisperer
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Grin, the developer of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, took this adage to heart after the original GRAW’s abysmally poor squad AI and mediocre missions failed to woo PC gamers. Thankfully, the developer’s efforts are clearly noticeable in the sequel, which impresses with both its improved AI pathfinding and new tactically sound team controls.
You again fill the boots of Scott Mitchell, who has been sent to Mexico to support loyalist troops defending against a violent rebellion. Your tasks of keeping the peace, rescuing captured pilots, and recovering stolen nuclear weapons are eased by the support of your Ghost squad, which exhibits deft tactical skill. The improved team intelligence is a welcome necessity, as we found enemy soldiers to be proficient sharpshooters able to pick us off if we rushed too eagerly into a firefight. GRAW 2 definitely rewards the patient planner over the fighter with an itchy trigger finger.
To prepare for infiltration missions and engagements at haciendas and hydro-electric power plants, we were given fun new toys with which to manage assaults. An overview map let us plot recon paths and cover positions for individual team members in real time, which was very reminiscent of the effective pre-planning feature in the classic Rainbow Six games. After executing carefully designed attack routes, we could also direct the action from cameras mounted on teammates’ shoulders. This Cross-Com system worked wonders for adjusting tactics on the fly, especially when the team was spread across different points on a map.
But as fun as the action gets, it’s all over a bit too soon. The game’s 10 campaign missions don’t add up to more than six hours of gameplay, and we spent most of that time in the three ultra-difficult levels of the last act. Addictive multiplayer modes are a redeeming factor and round out a very satisfying package that’s indubitably worth your time.