Fran provides his first impressions of the just released console version. But is it a sim?
by Guest Writer Fran Mulhern
Now, I know that SimHQ’ers generally do not hold first person shooters on consoles in high esteem with good reason. As a rule, FPS titles on consoles have usually failed to deliver the same kind of engaging experience you can get on a PC. In addition, the multiplay aspect of them has been somewhat lacking, when compared to the multiplay capabilities of the PC.
Could Ubisoft’s new addition to the Ghost Recon franchise change all that? As ever, SimHQ’ers will make up their own minds, but based on what I’ve seen so far there is absolutely no reason to think of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (let’s just call it “GRAW” for short) is just another dumbed-down first person shooter. Let’s take a look inside.
We always ask on a new sim if installation was easy, difficult, or whatever. You will not find an easier installation than this one. Can you turn your TV and Xbox 360 on? Can you open the front tray and insert a disk? If so, then you are good to go — no other installation required. Simple, eh?
Like all good first person shooters, GRAW has a story to tell. Fortunately, we’re now moving away from the “terrorist” theme of so many other first person shooters, which I personally feel is getting a bit old. In GRAW, the year is 2013 and there’s just been a military coup in Mexico. As leader of the Ghosts, a crack team of U.S. soldiers equipped with the very latest in infantry technology, your task is to lead your team at the tip of the U.S. ground forces’ spear. You will conduct rescues of VIPs. You will covertly insert and destroy fixed and mobile air defense artillery. You will help sabotage heavy equipment to ensure it doesn’t get used against your brothers and sisters in the regularly infantry.
That’s basically it. It sounds like a decent movie setting, right? How about “Four Men and a Drone”? Moving swiftly onward…
In single player mode, you will stick to the storyline. Starting on a mission to rescue a U.S. Operative who is pinned down, you will then be pulled away at the end of this mission to go help save the Mexican President who has been caught up in the military coup. From there you’ll become more and more involved in the war against the military junta.
You can select either first or third person point-of-view.
The commands you can issue to your fireteam are basic — a point and move type system. You can also switch them from recon (fire only when fired upon) to assault (fire at everything that moves and looks like it might be the enemy!) mode. Admittedly, the command system isn’t as strong as it will be on the PC version of the title when it ships in a few months, For example, you can’t split up your team other than sending them left while you go right. But at its most basic, the command system works fine.
At various points you can choose your own loadout, and you can switch some of your teammates, but it has to be specialism for specialism — a rifleman for a rifleman. You can also “heal” them if they are injured but, annoyingly, they will not do the same for you (or maybe my team just does not like me).
You will also usually have access to a scout drone which will fly where commanded and provide you with a bird’s eye view of sections of the battlefield. Either you can command this using the same “point and click” system as for your squad, or you can command it via the tactical map. In other words, you can always have it scouting ahead of you so that you always know where the bad guys are. You’ll then see the enemy appear on your HUD and you can decide how and when to deal with them.
In addition, you will sometimes have access to other assets — Apaches or Bradleys, for example — and these are commanded in a similar way. Personally, I hate the way the Apache hovers wherever you tell it to. “Go hover over that fixed AAA emplacement and wait there until I tell you to move”. “Yes sir!”
I think not.
Overall though, there is enough variety in the missions (and the storyline is surprisingly good) to keep you engaged. I’ve been tiring of single player in games for a while, but GRAW’s single player is just what I have been looking for.