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Previews

Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2

CVG heads to Paris for an exclusive first look

It's not even a year since Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter marked what some would call the Xbox 360's first 'proper' next-gen release, and here we are standing in a rather modest French office, looking at the freshly-churned and even more spectacular-looking sequel - and it certainly looks primed to deliver plenty more of the Mexican-blasting splendour fans of the first game enjoyed.

"In terms of story-line it follows on from the first game," content producer Olivier Dauba told us. "The remaining rebel Mexican forces are gathering along the US border. Most of the remaining civilians are there and the US government has gathered intelligence that a weapon of mass destruction has possibly been sent there by rebels from Panama."

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Another day's work for the Ghosts then, who have been sprung back in to action for a 72-hour undercover mission to help gain control of the border city of Juarez, and attempt to uncover the rebels' Uncle Sam-aggressing plans.

"Moving the conflict towards the United States isn't a very big challenge for us; Juarez is only a stone's throw from El Paso, Texas," pipes in Dauba. "During some parts of the game the player will have to cross from Juarez to El Paso and back, so it will create some very interesting tension."

Exploring the Ubisoft Paris workspace, littered around are trinkets of the studio's previous titles (Red Steel and cell-shaded FPS XIII), 24 DVD box sets and copies of Counter-Strike - all obvious influences over GRAW2's exceptionally swift development.

On one designer's monitor I'm shown GRAW 2's new character class system, which lets you mix and match the Ghost team with Snipers, soldiers and the new medic class, who can heal other team members even before they're sparko on the floor.

"Now," chirps in Dauba, "you don't have to wait for when [a teammate is] shot down lying on the floor to heal him. It's good when you're in a critical situation yourself as well - let's say your life is red, you can call your medic and he will get you back to full life."

At this stage it's apparent that this new strategic team swapping is going to be a big part of GRAW2; as one team member points out, picking a medic over a sniper for your team could be the difference between having to sneak up to a packed-out enemy position, or simply running in guns blazing with your doctor dealing out the meds.

Moving over to a neighbouring office desk - one with a disturbingly detailed Darth Maul bust perched atop a computer monitor - it's obvious that fancy character class shenanigans aren't the only new tricks GRAW 2 has to offer. Booting up a small tech demo (minus a number of the sequel's graphical effects), the finely-goateed developer demonstrates the boosted Cross-Com 2.0 - an updated version of the first game's soldier tech, for those not up on their 1, 2, 3.

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The Cross-Com system was widely regarded as one of the first GRAW's biggest touting points - essentially a small picture-in-picture display window in the corner of the player's HUD, displaying the view of teammates, tanks and airborne drones under their command - excellent for scouting ahead and assessing the battlefield as quickly as possible.

While this worked well, your view of the action was always somewhat limited by the small size of the dingy display window, and noticing this Ubisoft has conjured up a new full-screen display feature for the sequel, which it is calling the 'Full Command View'.

With the click of a button the goateed Frenchman to my side switches into first-person, manoeuvring his airborne drone and getting a view from above the trees in explicit detail. From here he easily spots an enemy soldier concealed on a neighbouring rooftop - something that would've taken far more effort in the first game's miniscule window.

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