G.R.A.W. satisfies on every level and deserves every bit of hype it’s earned since E3 2005. Definitely the best in the Ghost Recon series.
The Good: Exceptional tactical combat and an exciting, fast paced campaign make G.R.A.W. a great game. Add on fantastic multiplayer gameplay and you’ve got yourself one of the best, if not the best Xbox 360 title to date.
The Bad: Squad A.I. leaves a little to be desired. They’ll often run out into direct fire or get in your way while you’re trying to line up a shot.
The Ghost Recon series is notorious for being very tough and unforgiving. While G.R.A.W. is no exception, it towers above it predecessors and delivers and extremely fun and interesting tactical shooter.
The single player campaign is a good length – spanning 11 missions that tosses up quite a variety in gameplay. For the most part, you’re the captain of a 4 man squad and often find yourself with other useful tools and weapons which you control using your Cross-Com. The Cross-Com is a satellite controlled communication device which lets you issue commands to that which you control as well as the ability to see through their eyes. This comes in handy if you find yourself in a tight situation. You can send your squad to a different location and being able to see a wider view of the field. Among the tools and weapons you’ll gain access to is your UAV, which is an enemy detection unit which hovers high in the air and can be activated to detect hostiles in any given area. There are a couple missions in the game where your HUD isn’t functioning properly and you have to rely on your UAV to point out hostiles for you.
The visuals in G.R.A.W. completely blew me away. From the enormous sprawling city to the collection of shells at your feet. It pays attention to all the details and really looks ‘next-gen’. But it’s not just about looking pretty. The character movements are so well done and really feel like they have weight. When you’re running, even though it’s primarily a third person camera angle, there’s a nice little bob that goes along with every step you take. You’re not able to swing around 180* in any instant like you can in most shooters which adds a more realistic feel. This was the first game I’ve played where you’re dependent on using cover that really felt like you were behind cover and protected. I rarely rounded a corner without first sticking to the wall and taking a peek for hostiles first. This was all handled extremely well. You can stick yourself to just about any surface by simply walking ‘into’ it. Once you’re ‘stuck’, you can peek around corners or pop your head above low walls to scope out the area and issue commands.
I thought the explosions in Black were awesome – G.R.A.W. blows them out of the water! Never have explosions looked and felt so powerful and devastating. They’re just huge! Your dude will often duck from the blow and your HUD will flicker and show a little static.
There are a couple things about G.R.A.W. that had me pretty frustrated. Besides the solo missions, the squad A.I. can be pretty weak at times. I don’t know how many times I would move into position, call my squad up and have one or two of them run right out into the open, giving away our position and getting shot in the process. You can set your squad to Recon or Assault mode and believe it or not, this kind of thing happened on Recon a number of times. Another annoyance is having a squad member take up position right in front of you while you’re lining up a shot. I will admit, I shot a couple of my dudes in the back of the head just out of spite. Assholes should know better!
There are multiplayer modes a-plenty and if you’re an Xbox Live junky, you’ll love G.R.A.W. I haven’t played all of them yet, but quite enjoyed the team based objective mode and co-op missions.
G.R.A.W. was the system seller for me. I’ve been considering an Xbox 360 since it’s release and with the PC version being pushed back a couple months and me hating on PC gaming these days, I just had to pick one up. It is, without a doubt, one of the best games I’ve played. Even though I beat it over a week ago, I’ve still been playing it pretty steady. I highly recommend you check this game out if you’re a 360 owner – and if not, it might be time to seriously consider making that investment.