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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter Xbox 360

Published by Ubisoft
Developed by Ubisoft
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £49.99

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, an introduction.

A lot of people tend to credit the Halo games as the main reason most people bought the Xbox. Whilst that's probably true to an extent, you can't ignore the role of Ubisoft in providing plenty of reasons for gamers to purchase an Xbox. The Splinter Cell series, the Rainbow Six series and the Ghost Recon series have all been great on the Xbox, more so than on any other console. It was only natural then that many gamers were looking forward to the aforementioned series arriving on the Xbox 360. Here we have the first game in the Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon series, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and it's fair to say it's something very special.

What's the game about?

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is a futuristic tactical shooter set in Mexico City in 2013. You'll play as Captain Scott Mitchell who, with his team of Ghosts, must rescue the US president. At the beginning of the game the US, Mexican and Canadian presidents meet in Mexico City to discuss such issues as national security and illegal immigration. The meeting goes horribly wrong as terrorists kill the Canadian president.  The Mexican and US presidents are missing and it's your job to find them.  Thankfully you have the help of not only your three comrades but also the Integrated Warfighter System, a collection of cutting edge military technologies that will make your job a little easier.

What's good about the game?

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is one heck of an impressive game. On the single-player side of things the game offers a Campaign and Instant Action modes whilst the multiplayer modes on offer are Xbox Live, System Link and Local Play for up to 4 players. The single player campaign is very good with varied missions that have a natural progression in difficulty. On the subject of difficulty, there are two difficulty levels to select when you choose to play the Campaign mode, normal and hard. Even the normal difficulty level is quite challenging though and as the game uses a checkpoint save system it's not possible to quicksave left, right and centre, which makes things a little more challenging. What I really like about the campaign missions though is that more often than not you can pick your own path through the streets to reach a given location (and each path has it's own advantages and disadvantages). This actually makes you feel like you're in a real environment and not merely confined to a set route like you are in most games.  Instant Action allows you to jump straight into a mission with set objectives and is a good mode to brush up on your skills. The highlight of the numerous multiplayer modes has to be the co-operative campaign that can be played with up to 16 players. You'll also find the more traditional type games here such as Capture the Flag and Deathmatch variants.

So in terms of content then the game really hits the mark but what's it like to play? Well it really does feel like the Ghost Recon series has evolved and this isn't just because the series has moved onto a next generation console with all the graphical niceties that this entails. Perhaps the most remarkable feature in Advanced Warfighter is the new Cross-Com device. Essentially this is that blue tinted monocle you've seen over the left eye of the Ghost's eyes in the screenshots (which is represented by a small picture-in-picture on the top left side of the HUD). The Cross-Com allows you to see what your men (and the vehicles you can remotely control) can see. Using the Cross-Com you can get an idea of what's happening in parts of the city that you'll need to go. Using the map you have of the city (accessed by pressing the back button),  you can send air support drones to see how many enemies are situated there. You'll see whatever the drone finds on the Cross-Com. Using the directional pad it's possible to switch between giving orders to your men and any armoured vehicles you have at your disposal. The range of controls you can issue to these vehicles and your men isn't great to be honest but it's enough to get the job done effectively. As well as the Cross-Com you also have the Narcom, a picture-in-picture that appears on the top right of the HUD. In the Narcom you'll see news flashes and receive information and intelligence reports from generals that are located elsewhere. As you'll find out below though, the Narcom isn't a great deal of use for deaf gamers.

What's not so good about the game?

Whilst for the most part the game is magnificent in terms of how it looks, there are some oddities. You'll notice some rather jaggy shadows and jaggy reflections in windows etc. It's not a major thing but next to the graphical excellence it does rather stand out. You also notice some clipping issues such as your men walking through each other, which seems a little odd. Some might be irritated by the checkpoint save system, as it means that if you're killed you'll have to carry on from the previous checkpoint. Whilst this does add to the difficulty somewhat it also makes the shootouts more dramatic and actually makes completing the missions far more satisfactory. Without a doubt the biggest problem is the lack of support for deaf gamers which we'll get to in a moment.

How does it look?

Advanced Warfighter looks superb and proves that all those who think the next generation of console gaming hasn't begun until the PlayStation 3 arrives are wrong in no uncertain terms. When the game first arrived we played through a level on a standard TV and were amazed at how good it looked. Playing the game in HD is also an experience to savour, as you'd expect, but even if you only have access to a standard TV you'll still be impressed. The size of the mission levels and the draw distances are very impressive. It does actually feel like you're in a very large city rather than simply being confined to a few streets. The quality of detail on offer in the levels is also impressive and definitely way above anything you'd find on the Xbox let alone any other console of the current generation. The numerous graphical effects in the game look superb and really show off the power of the console's GPU. Heat shimmers, smoke effects and explosions are just a few of the effects that look very impressive. Suffice to say the game looks excellent and in these early stages of the Xbox 360's lifespan,  it's one of the most visually impressive games so far.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Sadly the one area where the game is less than superb is in its provision for deaf gamers. In fact that's putting it mildly as the game is actually quite shocking for deaf gamers,  which is hugely disappointing. There are no subtitles in Advanced Warfighter which means you'll miss out on the game's story. You'll also miss out on what's said using the Narcom. News flashes and feed back from other generals etc., will all be aspects of the game deaf gamers will miss out on. The game's tutorial mission is also without subtitles. Thankfully you are shown basic control commands in text. During missions (and the tutorial) you are notified when objectives have been given and you can press the back button to recall your objectives. You are also notified in text when any objectives have been completed and when the game has been saved at a checkpoint. As you might expect the multiplayer games uses voice communications which mean deaf gamers will be at a disadvantage when playing online too. 

Final thoughts.

Ubisoft have created a wonderful tactical shooter with Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and the game is one impressive experience. That is unless you're a deaf gamer. Graphically the game is excellent. Sure it has a few flaws in that area but for the most part you'll be very impressed. The Cross-Com and the Narcom are wonderful inclusions and really help to create the illusion you're involved in futuristic urban warfare. In fact the game is just superb. However, for deaf gamers it's going to be a different story altogether thanks to the omission of subtitles. Let's hope it's the last game in the series not to be subtitled because it seems very harsh that deaf gamers are not able to fully enjoy a superb game such as this.

Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is a superb tactical shooter and arguably the best game on the Xbox 360. However, its support for deaf gamers leaves a lot to be desired.