In 2001, Red Storm surprised us with Ghost Recon, a tactical shooter which was a direct opponent of Rainbow Six, another tactical game from the same producer. Thanks to its success, a follow-up was inevitable, but it only made it to the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox, with the PC version being scraped altogether.
Fortunately for us, last year saw the release of the third title in the Ghost Recon series, named Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. However, this time around it was the Swedish Grin studios which introduced the concept of Advanced Warfighter to the PC. And even though it had a lot new features and a great gameplay, GRAW had some serious issues as well: poor engine optimization even for high-end systems, a weak AI with a lot of bugs, bugs which found their way into the multiplayer mode as well. Moreover, the higher than average difficulty plus a checkpoint-based save system meant that only fans of the genre with lots of patience offered GRAW the attention it deserved.
Just like its predecessor, the PC version of GRAW 2 isn’t a port, so we are looking at something different than you may have seen on the Xbox 360, the most notable difference being the view point – 1st person for the PC versus 3rd person for the consoles.
Before we move on I would like to underline that, even with all the efforts on the developer’s behalf, GRAW 2 isn’t for everyone. This game wants to be a realistic military shooter and as such, its difficulty may scare a lot of gamers. The game has three difficulty levels, but even if you play it on the easiest one it will require a lot of patience and compromises.
The checkpoint-based save system represents one of the game’s main faults. This system has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on who’s playing it. But only for the fact it constrains you from saving anywhere and anytime you want, points us in the direction of being manipulated by the designers to increase the feeling of the game. Maybe I have worked really hard to get to a certain point and just because I didn’t pay attention for a fraction of second I lost everything and as a result I have to start it all over from the last checkpoint. Maybe some of you, that love realistic simulations, will think otherwise, but the truth is that for me this kind of approach leads to frustration instead of good quality entertainment. And with the risk of disappointing the hardcore fans, I would like to add that the designers did make a compromise to this aspect of “realism”, and now we have access to a quicksave option, which you can use only if there are no enemies around.
GRAW 2 puts you back in command of the Ghost Recon team as Captain Scott Mitchell and along with your squad you’ll once again carry out missions of recon, assault and protection. The story of the sequel picks up a few days after the first one left off, in which the Ghosts together with the US Army managed to save both the US and Mexican presidents from rebel forces. Despite this, you are recalled to manage the current situation, in which Mexico is being torn apart by civil war between the rebels and the government loyalist troops. If left unchecked, this war could endanger the security of the United States as the confrontations move close to the border, in locations like Juarez and later in the game even in El Paso, Texas. And even though the story isn’t usually the biggest upside of a tactical shooter, the one in GRAW 2 will keep you on alert from start to finish. If you enjoyed watching Kiefer Sutherland at work in the TV series 24, you will definitely have a blast.