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     " ...Definitely a good game, but ultimately just more of the same. "

      Title: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 by Ubisoft

      Format: Tactical Xbox 360 shooter

      Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

      The Hype: What is easily one of the most entertaining and successful 360 games to date is back, only a year after its original launch, with a sequel. But is this a legitimate addition to the franchise or just another "me too" game packaged to make a quick buck? Read on, my monkeys, and find out.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: I'm still not sure how this works, since Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (GRAW 2) is still using the same engine as its predecessor, but the graphics really are markedly improved…which is really saying something since the first GRAW was already damned pretty. Near photo-realistic models, lush environments, and some really fantastic lighting and explosion effects combine to really push GRAW 2 over the top…especially when compared to a lot of the under-developed ports that are currently on the market. 4.5 out of 5

      Playability: : For those already familiar with the last GRAW you will find almost everything in 2 familiar. Though there have been a few tweaks (such as an enhanced HUD) and a few additions (like a couple of new unmanned vehicles), everything is pretty well the same.
           For those unfamiliar, GRAW 2 is a sort of hybrid cross between traditionally slow-paced tactical shooters, like Rainbow 6, and faster not-quite run-and-gun titles like Counter Strike. The combination makes it fast enough that you'll rarely spend your time creeping around the brush at a snails pace, but won't charge in guns-blazing Halo-style either. It's a good system, and one that works, but with major gameplay advances such as the cover systems in Rainbow 6: Vegas and Gears of War, and the move towards iron sights in most shooters, it's feeling a little dated in its simplicity.
           Still, its semi-realistic Special Forces action is almost a guaranteed good time, and new and old franchise players alike should find something here to dig on. Wide open environments, this time in a nice mixture of both city and wilderness terrain, provide a good range of play options and serve to break up the mild monotony of the linear campaign objectives. A considerable selection of the newest weapons and gadgets also add to the excitement, even if most of them end up being functionally identical. And a noticeably improved AI adds some much needed challenge, though they do still fall pretty short of the sophisticated tactics we're seeing from bots in other games.
           Unfortunately, there are also a number of things that aren't improved--such as the ridiculously over-busy HUD (do I really need to see the names of EVERY FRIENDLY on the map crowding my screen at all times?), the occasional unresponsiveness of the controls, and the disparity in play style between single and multiplayer…but all of that ends up being more minor annoyance than real issue. 4 out of 5

      Story and Drama: Picking up exactly where GRAW 1 left off, number 2 forces poor Ghost Scott Mitchell to continue his fight against the poorly explained Mexican rebel forces that for some reason want to nuke our collective North America. It's poorly written, acted even worse, and makes about as much sense as the political intrigue in a Uwe Boll movie. Still, you don't play these games for the plot (which is a shame, because a kick ass story would really add something to a game like this), so it's not a huge deal…plus, this time you get to kill Spanish-speaking Tangos in the wilds of the US/Mexican border as well as in the cities on either side. 2 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: As you might expect, there's not a ton new in GRAW 2's multiplayer. For the most part it's the same game types, the same basic options (though the games are a bit more customizable), and the same somewhat squad-oriented faire. Of note are the additions of a bunch of new and incredibly cool maps, a considerable increase in the cooperative campaign mode, and options for customizing your character.
           On the downside is the lack of any real changes or improvement to the overall experience. We were really hoping, and expecting, that there would be at least one new "must-play" game type or gimmick thrown in to GRAW 2, but there just isn't. Also hurting its M&R score is the incredibly short single player campaign, which you can beat in a weekend with your eyes closed. 3 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       All in all, GRAW 2 is a good, though certainly not overly noteworthy, addition to the franchise. For those unfamiliar with the series (and unconcerned with the money that might be saved by picking up the first one used) this can be considered a must-have and will provide a lot of worthwhile entertainment. For those who've done their time on GRAW 1 and are wondering if it's worth another 60 bananas only a year after buying the first one, tread carefully. It is definitely a good game but ultimately just more of the same.

      The Good: Prettier graphics, some nice new options, and a somewhat improved overall experience.

      The Bad: Really just more of the same with some minor tweaks. It really is a $60 expansion pack.

      The Overall Ugly: Buy it if you're new, rent it if you've already got 1.

      What it's Worth: Market…assuming you don't already have GRAW

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