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    Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter for Microsoft Xbox 360

    Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is not your typical point-and-shoot game. In fact, if you run in expecting to blast your way through an objective, then go ahead and take this moment to think again. You'll be dead before you can finish reading this review. This is a game of precision, of strategy, tactics, and squad coordination. You outflank, out manuever, and use your squadmates to help attain each objective. You can never be too cautious, and never have too much intel on your enemies.

    The story of this game is set in the not-so-unbelievably-distant year 2013. Nicaraguan rebels somehow get their hands on equipment that was once the property of the U.S. Military. Before you know it, the President of the United States is missing and the Canadian President is dead. You are suddenly in hostile territory as a military coup is beginning to take place in Mexico. You have just two days to secure the President and eleminate the threat to the Mexican government currently in power. The story is one that could easily happen, and the combat is adapted to reflect what combat might be like in just a few years. With Tom Clancy behind this tale, you can bet that there will be plenty of twists. With so much going into this game, it is hard to give the story less than an 8, so I will give it an 8.5.

    Controls for GRAW are rather complex when you are first starting. Right trigger still fires, the A button reloads and can be used to adjust your rate of fire. The Y button is the action button, allowing you to break cover (you take it by simply moving next to it), climb, and roll. Button B allows you to select your weapon, and X will give you night vision. You order your squad to a new location by pointing to a location and hitting up on the directional pad (or point to it on the tactical map accessed by the back button and hit up as well). The most realistic part of the control scheme is zooming in to snipe at someone. To get a steady shot, you must first zoom in and then hold the left trigger to take a breath and hold it for the shot. Even though all of this sounds really complicated, most of it becomes pretty natural after just a little while. For giving so many options to a player in a learnable configuration, this game gets a sturdy 7.5.

    Graphics is one category that any Tom Clancy game will take head-on. Enemies and terrain are incredibly real, and explosions aren't just a cheap gimmick, they always serve a purpose for the story. While not as gory as some other games (like Gears of War, for instance), the game certainly has a lot of detail. The HUD, or heads-up-display is also a nice gadget. It helps to outline enemies that have been identified behind objects, making it easier to keep track of them as well as the locations of your own teammates. There is nothing worse than springing a trap on an enemy, only to hit your own guy by mistake. For realism that is rarely interrupted, GRAW gets a solid 9 here.

    Advanced Warfighter very accurately captures a lot of different sounds. First that I noticed was realistic static in messages coming from overseers. Grenades make sounds as they make contact with the ground, squad cross-talk sounds distorted and therefore real, as do moving vehicles and fun gunfire. The sound is designed to be intense and focused, and not distract you with songs that will get you singing along. How would you save face if you got fragged online for singing along to some music in the gameplay? For keeping it simple on sound and keeping the focus on the gameplay, this game rates a good 7.

    All told, this is a very well built game in every conceivable respect. A strong 8 puts this game up there as one of the best Xbox360 games out right now. Hopefully, it will somehow be overshadowed by its own sequel due in mid-March.

    Written by MT

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