Friday, March 10, 2006

Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter (X360)

These are some early impressions of the game. I'll be updating this post as I get further in the game.

- I played a couple of hours single player(about 4 missions including the training one)
- wow, really nice graphics, the level of detail is simply amazing, good explosions with really good sound.
- Pretty steep learning curve but a very well designed, intuitive, consistent interface. Read the manual since not everything is covered in the training mission. After about 1 hour you'll get the hang of things.
- Great dense urban setting. Lots of action and shooting combined with some tactical aspects like deploying your squad like in the Brothers in Arms games but doesn't require the strict suppressive fire/flank structure. You also get to deploy unmanned drones to scout out the area. Besides commanding your squad at certain times you can control vehicles (tanks, helicopters) in a similar fashion giving them orders to attack, move to a specific position, or rally at your location. Nothing quite like sending in an apache to destroy armor and infantry when you are up against overwhelming odds.
- Best hud yet with lots of info. You can toggle on/off the colored outlines on people.
- default view is 3rd person over the shoulder. You can also switch to first person view (but no gun model). 3rd person works just fine.
- You can't just run and gun. Cover is your friend. One of the best cover/hug wall/popup/look around corner/shoot systems yet. You can go prone.
- Seamless mission structure. All the missions are connected and you usually get moved around by helicopter speaking of which....
- you get to kill hordes of baddies using the side mounted mini gun on the helicopter.
- continue points within the levels so if you die you don't have to completely start over. So far it hasn't been frustrating.
- amazing draw distance that goes on forever.
- stick with the default gun. I tried using the one with the grenade launcher and then realized you lose the scope on that gun. You only get to change weapons every so often at certain rally points.
- the aiming seems to be pretty forgiving.
- from what I've read it seems that this version of GRAW is different than all the other versions (including the pc). so basically it's an x360 exclusive.
- it's the best of tom clancy games + brothers in arms + full spectrum warrior all rolled into one.

Yeah I'm really enjoying this so far. Next Gen gaming has really arrived. Go buy it!

I was able to grab it a day early from best buy for only $48 by price matching against the wed fry's ad.

ok I've got to briefly try GRAW on regular xbox (about 30-45min still on mission 1). Here are some impressions

- main objectives, story, and general environments are similar but everything else is different. This is a completely different game from the x360.
- pretty impressive graphics for the old xbox. 480p wide screen support. Very good draw distance but a pretty drastic detail reduction. The cityscape from the chopper definitely looks current gen, good current gen but current gen none the less.
- the hud is similar but looses a few things. first the cross com pip shows more of a slide show of what the other person is seeing instead of the nice smooth real time with cool effects that the x360 gets. Also, instead of the color outline on the targets you get just a colored diamond on the center of the targets.
- initial load times are very long but once in the mission it streams most of the data.
- in mission save points and check points
- In a lot of ways the xbox ver plays a lot more like a traditional shooter. Many of the tactical game play elements have been removed. There is more strict mission scripting and less options to the player. The game is still fun but in a more shallow way. In many respects the xbox graw feels like what you would expect from a console shooter and the x360 graw is more what you would normally find as a PC offering.
- No hide/cover mechanic. Instead you get the usual lean controls. They also added a sprint command. No going prone, only crouch.
- You only get 1 additional squad member to control. You get 3 on the x360.
- You don't get to actually control the UAV. You just deploy it to fulfill a scripted requirement and to give context to why you know where the enemies are on your hud. On the x360 you got to control the UAV location and adjust it's altitude. You fly it low for brief periods to scan the area for enemies but then it's susceptible to fire.
- The map is 2d and you can't really do anything else with it. On the x360 you can position and direct all your assets (squad, tanks, helo's) on the 3d map.
- 1st person (with the usual gun models) vs 3rd person
- when scoped on the x360 you have to hold your breath to steady your aim. Not needed on the xbox (at least with the first weapon you start with).
- no variable distance grenade toss. On x360 you have a visible meter to gauge how far to toss a grenade.

I think it's a fun game and probably worth playing but it's no where near as ground breaking in game play and graphics as the x360 version.

UPDATE (3/13/06) FINISHED single player on normal (X360)
- play time 8h 31mn 49s, score 17180, command grade A+, brotherhood grade A+, aim 15%, headshots 117, neutralized enemies 491, destroyed vehicles 37, wounds 52, healed 26, casualties by support 295, lost support elements 0, lost teammates 0, distance moved 28695.56 meter = 17.8 miles, average speed 1.45m/s
- there's one level (counter sniping) that was a bit frustrating (almost as bad as MOHAA and sometimes worse because of the checkpoint save system). At least that section is pretty short.
- when commanding armor, the tanks are on rails. You can only move them forward, back, stop and shoot. You can direct them to a specific point on the map. Everything else you command you can just have them move to a specific point on the map.
- always stick to the default weapon load out they suggest. It switches to the best weapon to use for each weapon so by them time you finish the game you've pretty much tried them all.
- You can heal your buddies (or have them heal each other) an infinite number of times (they also seem to have infinite ammo). You only get healed at specific checkpoints/mission end. Once a buddy goes down (grey box status) you have a set amount of time to patch him up (back to red status). During grey status the time is fixed no matter how much more he gets hit. If you take too long eventually he will die and you'll just have to do without him until you get a replacement (usually at end of mission).
- Fire! Fire! Once you start something on fire (usually by blowing it up) it stays on fire and creates some nice dynamic lighting and shadows.
- I really like the mostly urban settings and the focus on infantry combat and small squad tactics instead of vehicles like in some of the more recent games.

There is really good mission variety that puts you in all sorts of different roles, there are even a few surprises in the helicopter missions. I only got a bit frustrated on one sub mission. The rest seemed pretty fair. The last mission wasn't too bad (don't take position in the obvious spot, try other areas). The ending wasn't too bad but the story for the most part is forgettable.

Overall, a great single player experience.

Now, on to multiplayer!

- about 3 hrs of play
- developed by a different team. Controls are the same and in general graphically it looks about the same. Not quite as nice as the single player.
- The whole cover/pop out mechanic is gone.
- tried a game of ctf that was fun.
- Co-op campaign is a blast and is something really special. There's nothing quite like 8 players (up to 16) all on one side going after an objective based mission using voice comms and controlling the UAC to help each other out. The missions are tough with just hordes of baddies!
- Games were very stable and pretty much lag free.

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