|System: X360, PS3, PC, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Red Storm Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 21, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matt Cabral
The Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced War Fighter franchise has set the bar pretty high for thinking-man's shooters; sophisticated squad commands, A.I. that's actually intelligent, a dizzying amount of menu and HUD elements, and a scary sense that you're always just one fatal headshot away from returning to your last check point, have propel led the series beyond your typical run-and-gunners. Porting this complicated console shooter to a portable format seems like an unruly task, best not tackled. Still, Ubisoft and developer, Red Storm Entertainment thought they'd give it a shot.
The result yields a respectable portable fragger that may have been better left without the Tom Clancy paint job. On its own merits it does lots of things right-especially considering how most PSP shooters fall victim to not-worth-your-trouble camera and control issues. Unfortunately, the areas where GRAW 2 is on target are the same areas that'll likely alienate hardcore fans of the franchise.
Most notable is the absence of the series' calling card-squad control. GRAW without squad control is like Tetris without blocks; okay, maybe that's a stretch, but still, gamers picking up GRAW are expecting an opportunity to pull rank, bark orders, and send subordinates to the front line. Despite such a major departure, the no-squad approach works well, and seems the perfect solution to curb the confusion that overcomplicated squad controls could bring to the PSP. Gamepad GIs who've honed their strategic squad-based chops on consoles will balk at the one-man-army approach , but new recruits-not knowing any better-will have a blast.
Any foxhole fanboy who's earned his/her stripes playing console GRAW can surely recount multiple instances of lying in a pool of their own blood wondering: "where the hell did that come from? Was it a sniper?" Well, the PSP version eliminates this too with regenerating health and scaled down difficulty. While you can't exactly take a Doom-like run-and-gun approach, you can play it risky without worrying about a game-ending hollow point nailing you between the eyes. GRAW 2 esentially replaces one-shot-kill realism with Rambo-like action; your weapons are too powerful, your enemies too stupid-unlike their console cousins-ammo too plentiful, and an auto-aim feature ensures you'll rarely miss your mark. Again, probably not appealing to the franchise's faithful following, but a hell of a good time for those not squad savvy. It would have been nice, however, to dial up the difficulty a few notches if only to fully appreciate your immense real-world and near-future arsenal. Despite a slick variety of guns, grenades, and air-strikes, you never really feel a need to call upon one particular weapon-of-mass-destruction, because they all get the job done; why fumble with buttons when the gun you're already carrying will extinguish any evil-doer that crosses your path. The sole exception is your UAV-unmanned military vehicle-a still mostly unnecessary part of your artillery, but one that's fun to use just the same-dropping bombs on baddies from a remote controlled drone never grows tiresome.
GRAW 2 offers a decent amount of missions-just over 20-and enough variety to keep you moving to the next objective; missions that have you taking out large vehicles are an explosive highlight. And the short level lengths are perfect for pick-up-and-play sessions. Visuals are some of the best on the PSP, especially considering the limited color palette offered in most drab-drenched military shooters. Audio is also impressive. Enemy chatter can get repetitive, but that just makes it all the more satisfying when you silence them with your ear-popping armaments. One of GRAW's major selling points on consoles is excellent and addictive online modes; sadly, the multiplayer masses won't be turning to the PSP just yet. GRAW 2 doesn't support infrastructure mode, and its few ad hoc offerings are unspectacular. Overall, GRAW 2 is one of the best PSP shooters to date, but its lacks of true GRAW content and aesthetics will likely sour fans more accustomed to taking out Mexican insurgents on their Xbox 360 or PS3. If you're a first-timer, or just crave a PSP frag-fest that offers you more baddie-blasting action than control fumbling, then you may want to enlist with GRAW 2.
CCC Freelance Writer