DLC Review: 1200 points? Sir, yes sir!!!
It's no secret that the latest chapter in the Ghost Recon series presents a fine example of next gen warfare. Everything from the incredible graphics, excellent single player campaign and the amazing co-op and adversarial multiplayer fires on all cylinders. Just released through the Xbox Live Marketplace is GRAW Chapter 2 ? 4 brand new co-op missions, several of the original maps with new lighting, two new camouflage designs, five new weapons (the AK47 LMG, SR25 SD, M468/M230, SCAR-HSV and the M468) and 2 new gametypes ? Team Battle and Team Blind Siege. So, is it worth the scratch? That's 1200 Marketplace points ($15.00 in grown up money). The short answer is yes, it's great stuff and loads of fun, the long answer is no, with an explanation (check back with us in the coming weeks for a detailed article about Marketplace downloads and what they mean for the future of gaming).
The first co-op mission, Coffee Plantation, takes place on ? you guessed it ? a huge South American coffee plantation. This is not Juan Valdez's place though ? it's just a front for some Nicaraguan arms dealers to move illegal weapons through. It's up to you and your team to get in there and take the bastards out. This is a great map with huge open areas, rolling fields, streams and bushes. You'll take on rebel soldiers, as well as automated and manned APCs which will require either a well placed grenade or rocket to take out. There are multiple objectives that update in real time and lots of canny enemies at every turn. Because of the open nature of the map, bad guys can come from anywhere, in front, behind or from the sides. Overall, it's an excellent map design and a really fun mission to play.
With information retrieved at the plantation, it's off to an imposing shipping port on the Golfo de Fonseca to intercept a major weapons shipment. Under cover of darkness, you'll infiltrate the port and destroy the munitions while taking on a small army of rebels. This map is another great one, with huge cranes that you can climb to the top of, massive shipping containers and warehouses. It has lots of excellent sniping points and plenty of cover, but you'll have to watch carefully as you cross the open areas getting from point to point.
Once the port is under control the ghosts are called to a River Depot nestled deep in a misty forest just outside La Union. Since this is the local headquarters for the rebels, it's crawling with enemies who snipe and grenade you without mercy. You'll need to move through the trees and underbrush, taking cover behind dilapidated shacks and other structures while scoping through the foliage. You'll also need to watch each others backs as you take out enemy vehicles, as well as making sure that all weapons and ammo dumps are destroyed.
Finally, you're sent to an abandoned jungle mine north of the Embalse Cerron Grande in El Salvador where the insurgents are stockpiling supplies. This level is punctuated by huge trees, old mine carts and tracks, tunnels and a tremendous, rickety wooden structure at its center. This is a tough one, as the opposition comes at you from all sides and the thick canopy of trees makes it tough to spot them. Overall, probably my least favorite of the new maps, but that's only in comparison to the rest. It's still a good environment that's lots of fun. As a side note the new co-op maps can be played in adversarial mode, and each one has a relit variation you can play as well. The original maps feature new lighting that definitely changes the experience, since they'll all be familiar to any GRAW vets but completely different due to the change in what you can, and can't, see. For instance, one of my personal favorites, Nowhere, now takes place at night, and it creates completely different strategies and tactics than you would use in its daylight counterpart.
The new game modes are fun, and the additional weapons definitely add to the experience as well. Overall, GRAW Chapter 2 is an excellent download package that fans of the game will likely enjoy quite a bit. So lock and load and hit the ground running, Chapter 2 is upon us and well worth the wait.