Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2

Preview: CVG's under fire as we go Recon with the tactical shooter on PC

GRAW 2 on PC is a different kettle of fish compared to its Xbox 360 cousin. The two might share an identical storyline, but with the PC version there's a very different game style wrapped around this plot core and the idea behind that is this: to tailor it to the PC market.

We'll squeeze the scenario into one sentence - Scott Mitchell and his Ghost team head into Mexico to quell a rebel uprising which results in the Special Forces unit having only 72 hours to stop a nuclear strike on US soil. Whereas GRAW's setting restricted the environment to city only, in GRAW 2 the Ghosts will find themselves on operations in the city, desert and mountains.

It's a desert/mountain environment that provides the battleground for our hands-on. Following an in-depth mission briefing, team selection and load-out selection processes (gun nuts should be more that satisfied with the firepower available), we're to execute what is essentially a black op. We're dropped in the Juarez area near the Mexican border by Blackhawk helicopter with a number of missions geared toward locating an unidentified warfare package - which could be a dirty bomb or a biological weapon, we've been informed.

When the Blackhawk reaches the designated drop zone near a dilapidated village (prior to launching the mission we had the option of arriving at one of two insertion points) we follow the rest of the four-man Ghost squad down the deployed rope and hit terra firma as the downwash from the 'copter rotor blades kicks up clouds of brown dust. We're on our own now, teeth gritted in determination, and it's only seconds before we locate the first enemy targets and the crack of gunfire and 'pffft' of suppressed rounds fills the air.

Right from the outset, GRAW 2 on PC reveals itself as a tough-knuckled tactical first-person shooter where it's caution that pays dividends. Knowledge that being on the receiving end of a couple of bullets means certain death is a sure-fire way to ramp up the tension.

When firefights do occur, they're usually fast and brutal and involve little puffs of blood. Only rarely do engagements last more than a few seconds. "Target spotted. Enemy down" - it happens virtually as quick as the time it took you to read those words.

Indeed, caution and cautious planning are the Ghost commander's greatest friends in Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 on PC. The whole setup is geared very much around this style of play, which should really come as no surprise as Ubisoft has been quick to point out previously that the PC version of GRAW 2 is Tactical > Action as opposed to the Xbox 360 version's Action > Tactical leaning. Basically, rushing into unknowns means certain death. Believe us, we know.

GRAW 2 PC's real-time 3D overhead tactical map should be the first port of call for any self-respecting leader when planning an assault. Showing the lay of the land, from here you can issue orders to your team as a group or individually and set waypoints, and switch the team between two rules of engagement - assault and recon. You're able to set up a succession of orders too and execute them one by one or all in one hit.

All the orders available while in tactical map mode are accessible when you're stalking around in the combat boots of Scott Mitchell, meaning you could probably get away with ignoring the tactical map - although do so at your own peril; and you'd lose out on being able to set up successions of orders.

Again, orders can be issued to the entire team or to individuals; the orders are given by a click of the mouse wheel which brings up a scrollable order menu and, once the order's selected, you point a cursor say at a location you want the team to assault, and click on the mouse wheel again to execute. Pretty simple stuff really.

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