Well hopefully UBI will have reinstalled our faith in producing a satisfying release.
I personally dont have many complaints about the previous title other than it lacked character.
Official site info:
GRAW2 AU Beta Hands-on
We head into the field with the ghosts, and bring back some good news for PC gamers.
by Bennett Ring, IGN AU
Australia, May 1, 2007 - If a PC gamer was to catch Tom Clancy alone, in a darkened alley at night, chances are they'd punch him in the kidneys and take his wallet. PC users have been feeling abandoned by Mr Clancy ever since the Ghosts and the Rainbows stopped using the PC as their headquarters, instead setting up their base camp in console-land. As a result, Clancy-fancying PC gamers have had to make do with game-engines designed for pocket calculators (a.k.a. consoles) and game features that are built to be accessible to twelve year olds. Don an asbestos suit and check out the flaming threads in the official GRAW PC forums if you don't believe us. It's no wonder that many die-hard fans have vowed to never touch another Clancy PC game again.
Well, we've got good news for the PC guys. Very good news indeed. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRAW2) is not a sub-par, dumbed-down, hurriedly-converted, console port. Yes, this smorgasbord of modern warfare smells, looks and tastes like a PC game.
Before you get all pumped up and rush out to pre-order the game, we must make it clear that we're making this bold claim based on playing a single map in the GRAW2 multiplayer beta. But this short taste of the new Recon recipe has been enough to see that PC gamers, the guys who established Ghost Recon as a profitable franchise, are getting the attention they deserve. Here's why.
Upon firing up the game, we were presented by a very slick PC interface. Hey, come back here! Don't let the fact that we're chatting about a User Interface bore you to sleep. We're making a fuss about this because a shoddy UI is like a clanging warning bell announcing a crappy console port.
We're happy to report that this interface does not ask PC users to press the green button to progress through the menu (cou-Shadowrun-gh). And the server browser even shows the respect that Ubi has for PC gamers' intelligence - we're treated to real ping values in milliseconds, rather than the kiddy, coloured-dot system in use on the 360 version of the game (which, by the way Mr Ubi, still doesn't actually work for Australian users).
One area that could do with a bit of work is the options menu. PC gamers like to tweak their settings to within an inch of the videocard's life, so Ubisoft shouldn't be afraid to open up a few more advanced options.
Here's the obligatory objective mode, as made popular by CS.
Thanks to the snazzy server browser, we found a map with plenty of players in no time. Sadly it was a UK server, so our ping was over 300ms, but when you're playing in a beta, you take what you can get. As the game loaded, we were treated to a handful of loading screens showing off some of the other levels in the game. And they were nothing like the ones we'd seen in the 360 game; bigger, more detailed... better. But these are just loading screens, so we shouldn't read into them too much.
The single map included in the beta is Calavera. It's exclusive to the PC version, and is a maze-like sprawl of shacks set within a rocky, dust bowl of a level. It's noticeably bigger, and has a load more cover, than any of the levels we've seen in the 360 version. The fringes of the level are elevated, giving snipers plenty of camping spots, while the cover of the shacks in the middle-ground provides plenty of places to hide from them.
You'll need to make use of this cover, as there'll be no jumping around like a pogo-stick on speed to get away from incoming bullets. In fact, there's no jumping at all. This lack of vertical freedom is a concern, as we favour a stamina metre (allowing the player to jump, but not bunny hop all over the place) over the inability to jump in our shooters. On the plus side, it does give the fire-fights a slower, more realistic feel.
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GRAW2 AU Beta Hands-on
by Bennett Ring, IGN AU
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Balancing out this lack of mobility is the inclusion of a feature that very few PC shooters have implemented - leaning. It's been problematic in the past, as players of Raven Shield will remember. Due to latency issues, Raven Shield players often appeared to zap instantly between leaning and not leaning. Due to the high ping on our server, we can't say for sure whether or not this issue has been resolved. Here's hoping that it has. Players can also sprint around the map without any worries, due to the absent stamina metre.
But more important than any of these moves is the way the game feels. If the controls felt clunky and inaccurate, like so many console-to-PC ports, we could care less if the player can do an inverted pirouette at the tap of a button. The great news is that GRAW2 has the tight, accurate sensation of a dedicated PC shooter. The crosshair is nice and small, and your bullets go where you aim - there's none of the large-reticule, spreading-bullets shenanigans to be seen here folks (again, cou-Shadowrun-gh).
A 300ms ping is enough to bring lesser online shooters crumbling to their knees. And while we did notice a small amount of lag, in the form of characters slightly warping, for the most part the game handled the high ping ably. We even managed to take a few tangos down, although it could be our amazing skills that counterbalanced the high ping rather than any solid netcode.
The Cross-com remains intact from the 360 version, and functions much like the HUD system in BF2142. That is, if one person on your team spots the bad guys, he'll be promptly highlighted on your screen with a red carat, even if you don't have line of sight to him. This is a bad thing for the spotted guy, who is now public enemy #1. While this aids tremendously in killing the other team, the lack of voice communications is very disappointing. In this day and age this omission is simply not acceptable. Yes, we know there are third party options are out there, but gamers are a lazy bunch, and 90% of the team won't use them. As a result, battles in GRAW2 are going to be a lot quieter than those of Counter-Strike or Battlefield. Hang on... maybe that's not such a bad thing.
What is it that the Ghost's have against Mexico?
Then there's question every PC gamer wants answered- does GRAW2 support anti-aliasing? Bad news folks, the beta we played did not, even though there's an option right there in the graphics menu called anti-aliasing, with two options: edge-smoothing and off. Leaving it off within the game and forcing it via the drivers resulted in a jaggy mess. Enabling it in-game sort of cleared up a few jaggies by blurring out the screen, but it still wasn't what we'd call 'proper' anti-aliasing. Time for the bolded words of doom, which we seem to reserve just for Ubisoft PC titles. Re-enable anti-aliasing in your PC titles. Gamers demand it. IGN demands it. Hell, even NVIDIA is pissed when you don't include it. Get the message?
Other than the anti-aliasing issue, things are looking very good. The draw distance, for this kind of shooter at least, is quite massive, making long-distance battles the norm. Everything's nice and detailed, especially the character models, which are eye-squintingly sexy. Animations are smooth, although the running animation is a little off. The range that details pop into view should also be extended a bit - again, this is where more detailed video options might come in handy.
While there are still a few rough edges in the beta that we played, it's obvious that Ubisoft is seriously trying to regain cred for the Ghost Recon brand amongst PC gamers. So far the team seems to be on track to do so - we'll know for sure in just over a month when the game is released.
Are you willing to swallow past disappointments to check out GRAW2 on PC? Or did we get it totally wrong - was the last GRAW game on PC pretty good? Come to the Aussie forums to let us know!
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