Ghost Recon games have always been serious tactical shooters—when they appear on the PC, anyway—but the latest installment requires an even more tactical approach than its predecessors.
Not only do you need to carefully plan your every move in this near-future shooter, you also need a rig from the near future to run the game. Sadly, that’s the case even if you disable some of the eye candy that worked well on the Xbox 360.
We’re usually not averse to insanely high system requirements, but when we fired up Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter on an SLI rig with dual 7800 GTX cards, 2GB of RAM, and an Athlon X2 4800+, and couldn’t run the game at 1280x1024, we figured something was afoot.
After several patches and some heavy tweaking, the game’s performance improved slightly, but we don’t understand why some features remain disabled on the PC. We especially missed the direct video feed from our squad mates’ head-cams—the Xbox 360 displays a full render, while the PC version shows just a wireframe. That’s disappointing.
Performance issues aside, the game looks brilliant, delivering huge, realistic environments through which to stalk your prey, and stalking is exactly what you’ll need to do. Charging into battle with guns blazing is a sure-fire way to a sudden death. Instead, you’ll need to plan each of your moves carefully, using the excellent tactical map, and direct your squad mates with the same care. For them to be effective, you need to place each squad mate carefully, so they can suss out enemy positions and protect your back from the inevitable counterattack.
While we prefer the more hands-on approach that the PC version of GRAW gives squad leaders, your squad mate’s AI leaves a lot to be desired. If you tell a squaddie to wait in the cover of a protective corner, he’s just as likely to casually stroll around the corner into a hail of bullets as he is to wait in the place you specified. It’s natural selection at work, but it’s extremely frustrating when your only sniper is taken out during the first moments of a 30-plus-minute-long mission. Oddly, the enemy AI is quite good; they use cover effectively and make reasonably good decisions about when and how to attack.
Were the AI a little less suicidal, the game’s high-difficulty level wouldn’t be such a problem. But because you can’t rely on your comrades to behave the way any life-loving soldier would, you not only have to contend with an extremely difficult first-person shooter, but you also have to keep your squad alive long enough to keep you covered. It quickly stops being fun and becomes tedious.
The game’s saving grace is the kick-ass multiplayer co-op mode. On the PC version, you can play through the entire single-player campaign with real-life humans taking the place of the drooling AI. (The Xbox 360 version replaced co-op on the single-player missions with a handful of specially designed, but inferior co-op maps.)
Playing co-op with your buddies is fun with a capital F, and it gives you a great opportunity to practice your team-based strategies. Voice comms are a must if you want to succeed, so if you’re not playing on a LAN, make sure you bring your headset—a good time will be had by all.
Month Reviewed: August 2006
+ CASPER THE FRIENDLY: Co-op really kicks ass; the tactical action can be very satisfying.
- JACOB MARLEY: You'll spend more time positioning your squad than you will fighting the enemy.