|Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfigher (2006)
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC
Most famous authors are best known for the very works of literature that made them a celebrity in the first place, but Tom Clancy’s fame goes much deeper. In fact, the veteran writer is probably better known for the numerous film adaptations of his stories than the novels themselves, and his name-branded jump to the video game industry is a very close second. For years, Japanese publisher Ubisoft has been developing a series of Clancy titles - like the “Ghost Recon,” “Rainbow Six” and “Splinter Cell” franchises - with an unprecedented success, and the latest addition to the family (“Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter”) looks to carry the torch into the next generation of gaming with eye-popping visuals and enhanced A.I. technology that will make anyone’s mouth drop.
In the very near future (2013 to be exact), the U.S. Military has implemented a new program that will evolve the modern solider into a versatile warrior bred for the most dangerous missions. As Captain Scott Mitchell, a hard-boiled veteran of the elite Ghost squad, you are one of these men. When a summit attack in Mexico City results in the disappearance of the U.S. and Mexican presidents, Mitchell is sent in with three men of his choice (which will most likely consist of an Average Joe rifleman, sharp-shooting sniper, and a heavy-fire gunner) to take back the city and rescue the VIPs. Along the way, you’ll also gain support from Apache choppers and tanks (which you can control), as well as a military drone who scouts out enemy locations and picks up extraction points.
Communicating with all three groups is quite simple, and can be accomplished by issuing commands via your Cross-Com; pretty much a hi-tech walkie talkie. Controlled by the D-pad, you’ll choose who to communicate with by using the left and right buttons, and then select which order to bark out by pressing the up and down arrows; nothing too complex here folks, just a simple “move out,” “fall back on me” and “shoot.” The really difficult element of “Advanced Warfighter” is in the actual gameplay. This is about as realistic as warfare can get (you can take three shots before dying), and though the game can prove incredible frustrating at times (especially during the solo missions), it’s still very rewarding when you do complete the assigned task.
With that said, the single-player campaign mode is a far richer experience than the usual Live multiplayer mayhem you can come to expect from just about any first-person shooter. The many intricacies that appear in the “Ghost Recon” series can, in fact, only be appreciated to their fullest while playing solo, like the emphasis on overall strategy and the importance of forming a strong brotherhood with your fellow soldiers. You’ll even be graded in both of these areas as you play through the campaign, however, to my knowledge, there’s no definitive significance to scoring high in either one. Instead, you’ll just need to worry about staying alive as you battle through twelve missions of intense combat that challenge your soldiering kills on the ground and in the air.
And though it’s available on three other platforms, “Advanced Warfighter” should really only be played on the Xbox 360; that is, if you’re serious about taking advantage of the game’s full potential. The enemy A.I. is rarely foolish, though it’s hard to say otherwise for your guys, and the multi-layered menu system makes sitting through cutscenes less wearisome. In addition to this, every single one of the game’s environments is absolutely gorgeous (even the slums), with graphics that are so un-freaking-believable that you’ll find it hard to dispute whether or not Microsoft’s latest gaming system can be called next-generation. “Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter” isn’t the first game to display the 360’s capability, but it’s certainly the best. This is the next generation of gaming. Get used to it, or get lost.