I have an odd love for the GRAW series. Not in the same way a man loves a woman but in the same way a man loves to shoot things. Last year I did the GRAW event and had fun playing the game and getting shot in paintball, so when Ubisoft said “Let’s do it again!” the date was set. Heading to Rugby from my home is a bit of a journey but standing outside a field at 9 in the morning was just as shocking. First friendly face I saw in the morning was our own Luke from ConsoleMonster, so all was off to a good start. Next up was Mike from Britxbox and we all chatted the hour or so away as we awaited Ubisoft and the Warfighters. I had done my research so I did know what to expect but then, moments later, we were ushered into a nearby shed. Expecting cows, we got row upon row of tanks. All working, all tooled up and all very capable of running me over. Ubisoft had creatively placed GRAW 2 pods around, some on tables, some in army tents but in a fit of genius, they had some in the back of a parked APC. Not only was it freezing in the tank shed, this APC was a toasty death tank, just waiting to be commandeered. Let’s crack on with GRAW2 shall we?
You know GRAW, you love GRAW [Exit is that way -Ed] so getting to see GRAW 2 in action was a no brainer. Graphically it has had a buff and polish. Heat-haze, subtle motion blur and bloom was in full effect and did give many of the sunset and sunrise based levels a warm feeling. Explosions have had a revamp and they do look pretty spanky. A few older Ghost Recon and GRAW maps have been revisited and re-lit. Being able to play Day or night, or dusk and dawn style maps adds a good twist on seemingly standard maps. The first thing I did notice is that more of the maps are multi-story. Fans will love the fact that there are more places to hide and snipe your enemy from.
The code was a little old so some graphical problems arose but we’ve been assured that everything will be shiny and functioning when the game is finally launched in just a weeks time. So with more maps to play with, some old favourite guns along with some new friends, new camo’s to play with – Things are looking good so far.
People with Xbox Live and memories that reach back to the first GRAW coming out will remember playing the game non stop for ages when it arrived. GRAW 2 has all the good tweaks to bring people back but also a few additions that people will love. Full clan support is to be found in GRAW 2 which is great news for the series and great news for many semi-professional gaming clans out there. Clan names, uniforms, ranks for inviting purposes and weaponry loadouts can all be tinkered with. This was one of the main things that put people off about the first GRAW, so it is good to see Ubisoft listening to fans and adding what they want. [*Throws a stone at Epic* -Ed]
The fancy Cross-Com has had an upgrade which gives players the ability to see their friendly units in full screen. Great to get a full view of the battlefield, but not so great when someone shoots you whilst you are checking your friend out [Not like that you perv’s! -Ed] How it will pan out in actual field use is to be seen but also on the list is an improved Night-Vision view. Many will remember the GRAW mode which had odd soldier shaped white blobs streaking past the screen. GRAW 2 has adopted a more realistic Night-Vision mode which makes it far easier to spot and eliminate your intended target. Again a few little bugs here but all this will be sorted once the game comes out.
My only question is if all of this is enough to warrant another GRAW. It feels like it should belong in the Expansion pack territory as, other than graphical and gameplay tweaks, not a huge amount has changed. Everything feels smoother, more responsive and better to play but it is still very much GRAW. I need some more singleplayer hands on and some in depth multiplayer time before I make any judgments but these are my current feelings. Roll on the launch of GRAW 2 so I get get back into the field and get my GRAW on!
Speaking of which, after a haze of GRAW 2 action it was back to “reality” as a uniform clad soldier stands in front of me talking about guns. I look nervously around me and see my sheep, I mean fellow soldiers, all kitted up ready to be thrown into the field. Warfighters is in the same category as LaserTag and not in the same category as Paintball. In paintball you have the knowing feeling that you can inflict real pain on people but this is lost in Warfighters. While this may sound like a bad thing, what it makes up for is a more realistic feel. The standard guns you have can fire about 600yards, compared to the paintball 20yards on a good day – if the wind is right and the moons are in alignment. The distance of the weaponry does make you act more like a real GRAW soldier. People could not say that they did not slip into GRAW mode as they went diving into rivers, strafed tanks and fell into hedges. Knowing you can head-shot someone from the other side of a field is a scary and exciting thought.
Dave Thatcher, who heads up the Warfighters, talked a little bit about the new SCAR style guns which are really going to make the Warfighters experience even more realistic. Current guns just have a button to pull back to reload, the new SCAR’s on the other hand have real interchangeable mags to reload. These mags are digital so they can be programmed to have dead rounds in them which would mean a mag change in the heat of battle. The range is reduced to a mere 400yards but this makes room for the better guns which top out at a nifty 1000yard bad-boy sniper rifle. The more Dave talked the more you knew he loved his job but also you knew how serious he was about it. I for one cannot wait until this summer to check out the new guns and shoot some more people.
Go go go! You know those words but when they are hurled at you by an army bad-ass, you know it’s on! 5 of us were thrown into a Landrover and driven to our mission point, only to bump into a working APC which we all dived in and, blindly, driven to the mission. “Find cover! Find Cover!” I nodded like a freshly drafted Private. A smoke grenade was lit and the occupants of the APC coughed and spluttered. The door flew open and we all dived out. Within seconds someone is shot, as I Gears of War style slam into cover. Note to self, slamming into tanks hurt. Paintball? Pah! This is like Nam all over again. Screams of dying soldiers (Literally, someone really hurt their knee in the first 30 seconds), the noise of gunfire and flash bangs, all melded in with the cursing as I head-shot my own man. This person also happened to be a Warfighter and the bad-ass army one too. Joy of joys, I may actually die today if all goes to plan. It was not run of the mill team-deathmatch. Double agent had a team-member shooting their own friends. The attacking side had to flash-bang a building and an APC to win, while the other side tried to stop us. Lots of fun and not a spot of paint in sight.
Suddenly it was over. A few hours of shooting, screaming and amazing blind-firing and it was over. Dave turned to us from the driving seat of the Landrover and asked. “You like it?” Not many of us had words but nods could be seen. Most of us would need a certain amount of rest to recover from the war trauma but everyone knew the amount of fun we had. Looking to my left I see the next batch of recruits ready to brave the field. Oh yeah, someone was going to get shot. I think after my recent shambles in the battlefield, I’m going to stick to Video Games. Expect a full review of GRAW2 when it’s released.
Originally Written By: Barrie Rogers