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Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (review)

Posted by J.E. Sawyer , 23 March 2007 · 3436 views

the art of egon schiele
I played GRAW2 back-to-back with Rainbow Six: Vegas, and I found the former lacking in many areas. Though I would say elements like the GUI, level design, animations, and sound were reasonably solid, the core gameplay itself was often frustrating. The problems were a culmination of bad AI, a poor command interface, some other generally clumsy mechanics, and story/dialogue elements that could have been much better.

Your teammates are not very effective. Not only do they fire their weapons at a rate of about one bullet every six seconds, but they have the firearm accuracy of Don Knotts in The Shakiest Gun in the West. Their responsiveness to commands is slow and often haphazard in execution.

These problems are compounded by the d-pad command interface. It's very easy to accidentally move your team when you simply want them to fire at a target. And when they do move, they usually move to a place where you do not want them. The game doesn't show you their target positions until after the command is given. This is something that Full Spectrum Warrior executed much better several years ago. In FSW, it was always very clear where your folks were going to go. In GRAW2, such a mistake puts your squad out in the open unless you re-focus them or pull them back to you.

I did not like the cover mechanics much. I enjoyed R6V's because it allowed me to always be explicit about when I went to and from cover. GRAW2's slippy-slidey method was often frustrating. It was also really annoying to lean out from cover and fire a rifle grenade into the cover I was using (typically killing myself).

I had trouble with the health meters because I'm red-green color blind and don't really "read" heartbeat spikes. Usually the cases where I lived or died seemed haphazard because enemies weren't that accurate with their guns. The firing mechanics were pretty solid once you went into aim mode, though really without aim mode you might as well not even have a fire button, because you will miss with almost every shot you take.

Piloting the UAV could be fun, but it got old very quickly. It just became a routine "I have to do this" step when the UAV was in the level. In the later levels, the UAV was absent but it didn't really matter because dudes were just pouring out at me.

The story's premise was fine, but the inclusion of tons of foreign mercenaries seemed really weird. I think I heard an English accent, American, Dutch (?), and a voice that sounded like Satan himself. I also have started to notice that companies (especially Ubi) will do just about anything to prevent having an obviously Arab or Muslim antagonist in the game. It's like the United Colors of Terrorism.

I won't be too hard on the story or dialogue here, but there were a few moments of notable inconsistency. I did think it was interesting to deal with the U.S./Mexican border as a setting, but the story kind of devolved into foreign mercenaries and terrorists bringing nuclear weapons through the border which didn't seem that fresh. There were some very fun moments in the game, particularly any of the Blackhawk rail sequences or the occasions where you had a Littlebird cruising around with you, but overall I thought the game could have been much better. It was obviously entertaining enough for me to finish it, but I had plenty of frustrating moments.

I award this game 5.5 out of 8 UAVs.




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Adam Brennecke
Mar 23 2007 10:12 AM
Josh, you have to agree that the rail sequence on the choppa was pretty sweet. It's funny because that was my favorite part of the game, and it had nothing to do with the normal tactical gameplay.

I totally agree with most of your criticisms of GRAW2, and I expected more from a AAA sequel.
Curious, is that the 360 version or the PC? I assume its the former?

I read that there be changes in both gameplay and interfaces for the PC version since its being handled by a different developer.
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spacekungfuman
Mar 27 2007 09:28 AM
Josh. I'm not trying to be rude here, but why are you posting reviews of squad based FPS games, and games that cater to console players no less? Between this and your earlier entry about mechanics where you seemed to think that traditional crpgs are dead, you're scaring me. I support Obsidian specifically because the company is basically run by BIS expatriates, but if you're not going to carry the traditional crpg banner (so far I feel like Obsidian is the only company left still waving that flag) then you can count me out. I'm upgrading my computer just to play NWN2, and I didn't even like NWN. I'm doing it because of BIS. I spent hours reading the recovered scripts and listening to voice clips from KOTOR2 because of BIS. If these games were made by any other developer (other than the departed BIS or Troika) then I wouldn't go to these lengths. But if you go down the Oblivion path, then you'll lose me, and a lot of other people that feel the same way as I do. Maybe its stupid to support Obsidian as much as I do based on my love of BIS games. Maybe it was stupid to support Troika the same way. But stupid or not, I and people like me do support you, and cut you more slack, than any other developer on the planet. I'd think twice before gambling that away and making a game that has more in common with Rainbow 6 and Oblivion than it does with Torment or Fallout. . .
What's wrong with Developers posting reviews of other games in their own blogs? Josh may be known for creating mechanics for RPGs, but there is no fault for him to enjoy FPS, Sports, RTS or whatever games and post his own personal thoughts of the game.

I thought that its interesting to read up on his thoughts and reviews of the modern games we all are getting and will be playing from now on just like any other reviews that is posted by casual gamers like you and I.
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J.E. Sawyer
Mar 29 2007 12:15 PM
QUOTE(spacekungfuman @ Mar 27 2007, 10:28 AM)
Josh. I'm not trying to be rude here, but why are you posting reviews of squad based FPS games, and games that cater to console players no less?

Because I enjoy playing a wide spectrum of games on various platforms and I often find that there are good things to learn from them. I enjoy games like Animal Crossing: Wild World, Front Mission 4, Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Forza Motorsport, Oblivion, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Hitman: Blood Money, Devil May Cry 3, Alien Shooter 2, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, and Jagged Alliance 2. These are games that I have played in the past six to nine months (in addition to R6V and GRAW2). I have not enjoyed all aspects of them, but I enjoyed them enough to play them. And in every one, I found interesting ideas that could be applied to other games.

I've also sent data restructuring documents and bug reports to the NWN2 team to address issues ranging from custom content integration to spell table development to toolset modifications. I've posted some of these ideas in the NWN2 blog and also on the BioWare forums. I don't post those things in this blog because they have more appropriate homes elsewhere.
QUOTE(J.E. Sawyer @ Mar 29 2007, 09:15 PM)
I enjoy games like Animal Crossing: Wild World, Front Mission 4, Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Forza Motorsport, Oblivion, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Hitman: Blood Money, Devil May Cry 3, Alien Shooter 2, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, and Jagged Alliance 2.

I still find it amazing (honest) how people can enjoy Oblivion. ermm.gif Could you please care to explain what is it that you enjoy about Oblivion? Besides the graphics, of course laughing.gif

Regards
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J.E. Sawyer
Jun 08 2007 07:13 AM
* Being part of a nasty organization/cult was fun. I like cultish groups.
* I liked riding around on my horsey and having my horsey stomp on people.
* I enjoyed the alchemy system even though I think it could have been a lot better. Finding reagents was fun (never got old for some reason), especially since they were all over the landscape. I put poison on everything and I loved watching enemies rapidly die from poison.
* I made a game out of stalking and murdering people who made racist comments toward me. I'd wait for them in their houses and stab them with poisoned knives. Good times.
* I liked shooting things with my bow. I thought the melee was terrible but I liked shooting. It wasn't flashy or anything, but it was enjoyable. Especially with poisoned arrows.
* Exploring was just fun. The areas are so huge that it was nice to just run and run (or ride and ride) to see what there was to see.
* I liked stealing from people. I think the stealth mechanics had a good level of complexity for an RPG. Sneaking into a person's house and robbing them blind was satisfying.
* I liked the fact that there was stuff everywhere. Plates, cups, knives, pants, boots, mushrooms, loaves of bread, bottles of wine. I could pick all of this stuff up or knock it over or steal it when no one was looking.
* Water was not an impenetrable barrier. I am not a big fan of swimming mechanics, but it was nice to be able to jump into water and not hit a wall. There was often stuff in the water too, which was nice.
* Though I think the punitive system in the game could use some work, I have always liked that guys try to arrest/fine you sometimes instead of just attacking you. The abstraction is possibly a bit too lenient, but at least there's an alternate system in place.
* I have liked the idea of charged weapons since I read a Dragon magazine article about it fifteen years ago or so. There was never "one weapon" I always used. I switched between them due to charging factors, secondary effects, etc. In fact, the equipment in general was pretty nice. It looked good and the stats/effects were varied enough to make choices difficult.

The places where I feel Oblivion is most lacking:
* Lack of meaningful reactivity / no meaningful choices / no branching.
* Spastic melee.
* Throw-away dialogue with an uninteresting, rote mini-game on top of it.
* Lockpicking mini-game on PC. Bad news.
* AI. For every one time that it looks brilliant, there are three times that it looks really bad.
* Crafting interface. "Click on everything to find out what this might make" = terrible.
* Skill bonuses were pretty shallow and there were no choices in how any individual skill's bonuses advanced.
* I think horses should have been able to stomp or otherwise trample folks with you on the back. Getting off every time was kind of annoying.
* Dynamic difficulty scaling. I hate it.
QUOTE(J.E. Sawyer @ Jun 8 2007, 04:13 PM)
* Being part of a nasty organization/cult was fun. I like cultish groups.
* I liked riding around on my horsey and having my horsey stomp on people.
* I enjoyed the alchemy system even though I think it could have been a lot better. Finding reagents was fun (never got old for some reason), especially since they were all over the landscape. I put poison on everything and I loved watching enemies rapidly die from poison.
* I made a game out of stalking and murdering people who made racist comments toward me. I'd wait for them in their houses and stab them with poisoned knives. Good times.
* I liked shooting things with my bow. I thought the melee was terrible but I liked shooting. It wasn't flashy or anything, but it was enjoyable. Especially with poisoned arrows.
* Exploring was just fun. The areas are so huge that it was nice to just run and run (or ride and ride) to see what there was to see.
* I liked stealing from people. I think the stealth mechanics had a good level of complexity for an RPG. Sneaking into a person's house and robbing them blind was satisfying.
* I liked the fact that there was stuff everywhere. Plates, cups, knives, pants, boots, mushrooms, loaves of bread, bottles of wine. I could pick all of this stuff up or knock it over or steal it when no one was looking.
* Water was not an impenetrable barrier. I am not a big fan of swimming mechanics, but it was nice to be able to jump into water and not hit a wall. There was often stuff in the water too, which was nice.
* Though I think the punitive system in the game could use some work, I have always liked that guys try to arrest/fine you sometimes instead of just attacking you. The abstraction is possibly a bit too lenient, but at least there's an alternate system in place.
* I have liked the idea of charged weapons since I read a Dragon magazine article about it fifteen years ago or so. There was never "one weapon" I always used. I switched between them due to charging factors, secondary effects, etc. In fact, the equipment in general was pretty nice. It looked good and the stats/effects were varied enough to make choices difficult.

The places where I feel Oblivion is most lacking:
* Lack of meaningful reactivity / no meaningful choices / no branching.
* Spastic melee.
* Throw-away dialogue with an uninteresting, rote mini-game on top of it.
* Lockpicking mini-game on PC. Bad news.
* AI. For every one time that it looks brilliant, there are three times that it looks really bad.
* Crafting interface. "Click on everything to find out what this might make" = terrible.
* Skill bonuses were pretty shallow and there were no choices in how any individual skill's bonuses advanced.
* I think horses should have been able to stomp or otherwise trample folks with you on the back. Getting off every time was kind of annoying.
* Dynamic difficulty scaling. I hate it.

First of all, thanks for your answer original.gif As for the things you like about Oblivion, I found almost all of them quite fun and amusing too (except that one about guards, because their mechanics are pretty archaic anyway tongue.gif ). What surprises me, however, is that the negative points you refer (which I fully agree with, by the way) aren't as much important as the positive points... I mean. In the beginning, when I first started playing Oblivion and was blinded by graphics and hype and stuff, I though they were unimportant too... but I found all that shallowness was just stealing my time, using small tricks to keep me playing. It took a bit to realize that, for me... For instance, the first three negative points you refer are enough for me to dump any RPG. And the dinamic difficulty scaling. And the AI, and the skill system... About the horses, you do know they played Barby Horse Adventure to know how it was done XD

Anyway, thanks a lot for the reply, I was just curious original.gif

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