I've already said that this is the best looking shooter on any console and since it's practically impossible to
adequately describe how good this game looks, my advice would be to go check out the trailers, screenshots and in-game videos and decide for yourself
whether you agree with this assessment. Previously the main graphical issue with console based FPS games was jaggies,
which are nowhere to be seen in this game if you play it on a high definition television. What you can't tell from the
screenshots is how the game's visuals are not constant throughout. The night levels which lack as impressive lighting
as the earlier levels look positively bland in comparison with the amazing vistas featured earlier on in the game.
Turning on night vision doesn't help either, mainly because it sucks. With night vision on, everything is horribly
blurred making it useless for picking off targets in the medium-high distance range. This wouldn't be the first time a
shooter has featured a useless alternate vision mode, but we expect more from a Tom Clancy game.
Sounds are another aspect of Warfighter
's aesthetic appeal.
Subtleties like hearing your character trying to catch his breath after a long sprint and the thumping of bullets
hitting the brick wall that you're cowering behind adds impact to the amazing visuals. However, if you've ever
completed a first person shooter before, you'll know what Warfighter
like: guns go "BAAM!", soldiers go "damn that hurt!" and your teammates go "nice shot",
The voice acting is above average (the general's voice sounds satisfyingly gruff, the President
sounds Presidential and your own character's voice sounds like any other virtuous soldier) but there's a complete lack
of lip syncing - even in the prerendered CGI sequences. The relationship between the voices and the in-game models when
displayed on the "Cross-com" (which we'll get to later) is exactly the same as it was with
character screen, a game which is nearly a decade old. Where did the next-generation go?
The plot-line and the game's difficulty is a mixed affair: the first time I played the campaign I didn't care much
about the plot as I was more concerned with the amazing graphics (seriously, have you checked them out yet?
). The second time round (this time on
hard mode) it was easier to pay attention to the plot-line--which strictly follows the "megalomaniac attempts to
take over Mexico" script. Coming back to the point of balance mentioned in the first paragraph, the game's
difficulty isn't constant throughout the game. Some levels you'll be able to breeze through, whilst others you'll
attempt dozens of times only to fail miserably every time. The checkpoints don't help either. If you get hurt early on
in a level (of which there are generally three) checkpoints, you'll be left with low health levels for the rest of the
level. Trying to get past some of the harder difficulty sections with low health is not fun.
whole, the enemy AI is convincing. Instead of it seeming like each soldier has a personal vendetta against your
existence, enemy soldiers react accordingly to the situation at hand. If, for example, there's a massive Apache
helicopter blasting away at his position, he won't pop out of cover to take a pot-shot at you. Like any other squad
based shooter, the intelligence of your team is essential to the game's quality. In the case of Warfighter, the team's
AI is hit and miss. They can be essential to distracting enemy fire or for taking out a tank, but that won't stop them
for running in front of you (and into enemy fire) when you're rattling off a clip. In another case, a grenadier team
mate blew up the entire team by firing a grenade launcher point-blank into a wall. Luckily these kind of events are
rare and in the main your squad is a help more than a hindrance.
The controls, like any other console based
FPS, have a relatively steep learning curve especially for players new to Ghost
"think before you shoot" style of gameplay. Even now that I'm halfway through the campaign on
hard mode I've found that there are still moments where the controls feel clumsy, particularly when you suddenly
encounter an enemy at short range. The "peek around corners" function is one divergence from how FPS games
usually handle cover. Instead of pressing a button to peek around a corner you just push the control stick in the
direction of the wall and you "stick" to the surface, allowing you to peek at enemies easily. In practice the
function can sometimes be annoying because it takes about half a second to stick and un-stick yourself from the wall--an
eternity if an enemy soldier has just run around the corner.
Claimed innovations such as the
"Cross-com" (a multi-function video screen which shows what your team and other things are doing) aren't
altogether that innovative or even useful in practice. It's certainly cool to be able to see a live video
feed--complete with stylized interference--from the UAV, but since enemies are pointed out on the tactical map by big
red diamonds, the Cross-com isn't required to control your UAV. The same goes for controlling vehicles, helicopters and
your team. The Cross-com falls very neatly into the gimmick category.
Then there's the glitches: I don't
know what IGN's Douglass C. Perry was smoking when he
"by the way, there is no pop-up or pop-in of any kind to be seen". Although the pop-up is barely
noticeable, it's certainly there. On several occasions after peeking round a corner I noticed the telltale white flash
of un-rendered textures rapidly loading. Then there's the "I believe I can fly" prone
, Helicopters that fly through other choppers without exploding and even the occasional disappearing
. All those fancy technologies designed to immerse you in the game are irrelevant if your team-mate's head
suddenly disappears. If you watch a DVD on a good digital projector with a decent sound system, it's possible to be
completely immersed for the duration of the film. Why can't this be the case with GRAW
, or for that matter,
After playing the game for around 15 hours (the in-game statistics tell me that I've spent 6 hours
on the single player campaign on normal difficulty and 4 hours on hard--plus around 5 hours playing co-op with my
roommate) my interest in the game has severely waned since the first couple of hours playing the campaign on normal
difficulty. I'll admit it: like a lot of other gamers one of the main reasons I purchased this game was for the pretty
graphics, which GRAW
delivers with flair. However it didn't take me long to
realize that once you scratch away the pretty surface, the gameplay in GRAW
barely different from the original Ghost Recon
. Showcases like the
"over-the-shoulder" view which demonstrates the totally amazing-looking sunlight are really just distractions
from the fact that GRAW
's underlying single-player gameplay is practically
identical to its 5 year old tactical shooter father.
"Garcon! I'm still waiting for next-generation
gameplay to go with my next-generation graphics..."
Overall score for the single-player experience: