Specials: Now with even more recon!!!
One of the best reasons to own Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter comes from its extremely comprehensive, optimized, and entertaining multiplayer component. The solo campaign contains its own time-consuming experience, but digging into the online portion really displays the lengths the developers at Ubisoft went to in order to ensure that it met expectation. Truly, it was a very wise move to delay this game a few months in order to polish the graphics and ensure technical problems did not come into play.
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter's multiplayer is quite similar to other Ghost Recon games, at first glance. However, upon closer inspection, the sheer depth of modes and the quality in which they are executed is certainly noteworthy. Graphically, the multiplayer portion is not quite as jaw dropping as the offline portion, but it remains impressive and fast moving, nonetheless.
The real standout for online play is easily the co-operative campaign. This mode is great for several reasons, not the least of which is 16-player support. This four-mission campaign starts out somewhat slow, but then it sprawls into much bigger scenarios that require the proper balance of planning, firepower, and teamwork. This mode strikes a similar level of enjoyment to that of the Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory co-op; Ubisoft obviously understands the building blocks to fun online gameplay. However, co-operative gameplay doesn't end there; you and your buddies can play firefight or siege matches that allow your team to be pitted against a squad of unruly AI soldiers. The computer-controlled soldiers do pretty well as adversaries, and even though their difficulty can be set to whatever is preferred, the default setting remains fairly challenging.
The adversarial elements of online play are also quite fun, and they return in both team and solo formats. The amount of options for this set of modes is extremely deep, plus you can even create some of your own custom variants ala Halo 2. The use of the ?drone? in team-based affairs is great fun since you can fish out your opponents in hard-to-reach places and they will be illuminated on your ?cross com? HUD. In these player-versus-player situations, it is notable how the action has changed since previous Ghost Recon games, as the speed of play is much smoother and you can even run and gun a bit more now ? somewhat arcade in feel, but not too far of a departure from previous iterations.
Not to be overlooked in the online portion is the absence of lag and the well-designed lobby interface. Matches play smoothly and you're more likely to have your box lock up on you (this did happen after a five-hour session) than experience crippling or even moderately bothersome lag ? commendable work by Ubisoft. The lobby is quite simple in its implementation, but very functional and informative in how it is presented. As a host, the options for gametypes, modifiers, and room settings are easy to change ? also helpful is the ability of in-room players to view all the options (this wasn't as fully realized before) in order to make suggestions for upcoming matches. The player readouts are clear and so are the displays for team counts, rank, status, and so on. The lobby is easily one of the most functional seen in a Live-enabled game.
The multiplayer for Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter is only half of the package, but it delivers in so many ways that is worth checking out based solely on its own merits. Fun is to be had when you go online with this one. We at Gaming Target will have our full review of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter very soon.