IGN Review of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
When it was released earlier this year, Tom Clancy's GRAW 2 was an evolution of the franchise. Improved controls, smoother gameplay and a deep multiplayer experience added up to make an incredible first person shooter. The port of the title over to the PS3 was impressive as well, which merely added to the legacy of the franchise. With the release on the PSP, you'd expect Captain Mitchell's portable sorties to be just as impressive as his console adventures. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 on the PSP is barely GRAW in any sense of the word, which should be extremely disappointing for fans of the series.
GRAW 2 PSP isn't a condensed version of the console game onto the UMD, nor does it pick up where the console version leaves off. Instead, the plot is designed to be "GRAW 1.5." Shortly after the events of the first GRAW, Mitchell is tasked with following the weapons used in Mexico City, which takes him to Columbia. Unfortunately, as he and his team are being inserted into the country, the helicopter that he's on is shot down, leaving him alone behind enemy territory. To successfully accomplish his mission, Mitchell will need to follow his attackers and the weapons he was sent for, uncovering a conspiratorial twist that could drag all Mexico and all of Latin America into a new conflict.
Mitchell is a trained Green Beret who's prepped to take on seemingly impossible odds, especially with the help of his Advanced Warfighter equipment. So just like the console title, Mitchell will find his mission objectives highlighted with yellow diamonds, with blue diamonds highlighting friendlies and red diamonds indicating enemies. To eliminate any of these threats, Mitchell will have access to a variety of weapons, including assault rifles, handguns and explosives. At any point during a mission, he can carry two different primary weapons, such as rifles or machine guns, a pistol and his assortment of grenades.
Of course, as you cross through the dense jungles of Latin America over 22 different missions, you'll cover everything from reconnaissance sorties to escort missions to demolition objectives. The missions are relatively small, normally taking around 10-15 minutes to complete, and provide two to three paths for players to use to accomplish their objectives. However, there's a ton of problems that reduces much of the enjoyment or the rationality of the title. First of all, the entire game places Mitchell into a Lone Wolf scenario. He rarely gains allies during the missions that he takes, and even if they do appear, he has no way to command them. Nor will they be particularly helpful; in fact, I can't actually say that the allies that ever joined me during a stage did anything outside of standing around. As a result, you're pretty much forced to do everything within a mission by yourself.
Now, if you were forced to scavenge your weapons and explosives from your fallen opponents, or had to improvise the means of dispatching any soldier stupid enough to get in your way, there might be a bit of a challenge in going at it alone. However, Mitchell is more than capable of blasting a way through every enemy squad on the map, rarely running out of ammunition in the process. This is exacerbated once you have the OICW, which packs so many rounds that you rarely ever find yourself running out. Combine this with one of the other weapons, and you will often pack more firepower than the enemy will ever marshal towards you. If you ever find yourself magically running low, you can always restock at one of the ammo boxes that are easily accessible, which helps you continue the fight with very little incidents. An unfortunate byproduct of this situation is that you rarely feel the need to use certain weapons or items available to you. There isn't ever a moment in the game where you need to use the drones to scout out territory for you, nor are you required to use the air strikes or other weapons that you can acquire over the course of the game. You can easily find the one or two weapons that you like and blast your way to victory.
What's more, Mitchell somehow has acquired the ability to regenerate damage without any medkits or need to visit an ammo station, which doesn't make any sense. Even worse, it makes the game a lot easier once you realize that you can go into any battle, take an unrealistic amount of damage, and magically restore all of your health in a couple of seconds as long as you aren't being continually shot at. At the very least, the game could've forced an added amount of difficulty on players by forcing you to rely on ammo boxes for healing, then stretch out the location of those objects so you had more tension whenever you got into a firefight. Sadly, that is sorely missing in this game, so you pretty much feel like a tank rolling through enemies.
Then again, the enemy AI is practically brain dead, so crushing them is barely a challenge. Not only will they often give away their position during a mission by shouting, which alerts you to their presence much earlier than your HUD will, they will perform a number of idiotic behaviors. From standing completely still as you shoot them and their allies without reacting at all, to intentionally running into you without firing a shot, the rival soldiers are truly bullet fodder for Mitchell. As a result, you don't really feel the need to be a Ghost when you can be Rambo, blasting your way through everything and everyone.
Unfortunately, none of these issues are improved for the Co-op Multiplayer via Ad Hoc, which allows you to play through either the campaign missions or Firefight, Defend or Recon Missions with a friend. While you can take on any one of these separate missions by yourself, it's even easier to blast through mindless enemy troops with a fellow Ghost by your side. Unfortunately, there's no other kind of multiplayer mode available, nor is there Infrastructure play either. As a result, the engaging play that you'd find on the console or within other first person shooters definitely takes a back seat to the contained game missions. If you've played GRAW before, you know what a blow this is to the gameplay.
Technically, the game looks good, although it definitely doesn't stretch the power of the PSP by any stretch. There are no cinematics to be found anywhere within the game, and with minimal in-engine cutscenes scattered across the game, GRAW 2 isn't particularly taxing on the system. The game does seamlessly load areas from one section of the map to the other, with a brief "loading
" statement that pops up on screen during missions to let you know you've entered a new area. The kill cam for particularly striking head shots or other accurate attacks is nice. However, there are still a couple of glitches: for example, enemies will sometimes warp from one location to another. This often happens if they're up on a balcony and then suddenly blink into view on the ground without using a ladder or jumping down. It's not a major issue, but it is definitely noticeable. Another issue comes with trying to read text if you happen to access your OpMap, because it will literally bleed into the background, rendering some of the text illegible.
Sound is better, but it's still not phenomenal enough to overcome the other issues of the title. While Mitchell, CrossCom messages and other dialogue is pretty good, the dialogue from the enemies is particularly stale. It's understandable that there'd only be a few phrases that would be available for the soldiers, but the game rarely ever cycles through them. As a result, you'll constantly hear the exact same comments over and over again ad infinitum, which you'll quickly tune down or ignore as you put another bullet into the enemy.
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