Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (GRAW) was an excellent first game for the Xbox 360. Its winning premise was based on a hypothetical civil war in Mexico in 2014 AD, in which you - as Captain Scott Mitchell of the elite 5th Special Forces Group, a.k.a. the Ghosts - and your team were called upon to help the Mexican government and loyalist army repel rebel forces and rescue the US President. Now about a year later, Ubisoft has released version 2 of GRAW.

GRAW 2 sees you reprising the role of Captain Mitchell and his team, and is set the day after the original experience. As you are returning to the US in GRAW, you are notified that the rebels are blaming the US for their failures and are intending payback. Four Ukranian RedStar 4 nuclear warheads "lost" in 1991 have resurfaced in rebel hands and they intend to use it on US targets. What's worse is that the rebels have also managed to get their hands on Pakistani Kashmiri ballistic missiles and if successfully brought into the south of US soil, the missiles can deliver the warheads to any US target. You and your team are needed to prevent this and destroy the warheads.

There are 12 missions plus an optional training mission also known as the Battle Simulator. Training is recommended if you have not played GRAW and even then it's a good start to get familiar with the enhanced graphics and gameplay of the sequel. These missions are spread across three days.

If you decide to skip training, you start off at the outskirts of the town of Juarez, Mexico. During the three days, you will make your way from these outskirts into the town of Juarez (including a graveyard) and eventually finishing off in the final showdown at the Caballo Butte dam, Texas. The missions include raiding rebel and mercenary encampments, destroying convoys or providing air support from your Black Hawk helicopter, rescue missions, a Black Hawk down scenario which will require you to blow up the crashed chopper to remove evidence of US involvement in the Mexican civil war, taking down a rebel leader in a helicopter to destroying the nukes.

Aiding you in these missions will be about 30 weapons - ranging from assault and sniper rifles, sub-machine guns, light-machine guns, pistols, a revolving chambered grenade launcher, anti-tank shoulder mounted rockets to fragmentation and smoke grenades and C4 satchels, which can take out armoured vehicles (including helicopters if used precisely). Some weapons come in different configurations, e.g. snap-on underside grenade launcher, scope and silencers. Unfortunately, these different configurations are fixed, meaning that you can't mix and match to what you'd like or modify them during gameplay. So for instance, you can only choose to have an unsilenced or silenced MP5 sub-machine gun only and you can't silence or unsilenced it during gameplay, or you can choose to have a grenade launcher on your SCAR-H or a scope but not both. For the enthusiasts, this restriction puts a slight damper on the excitement that normally comes with the ability to customise your weapons. Furthermore, there isn't any indication to the range, accuracy and lethality of these weapons, making it guesswork as to which weapon is better than the next.

In some missions you will have a tank, an APC, a helicopter gunship, an additional infantry squad, a UAV drone and/or a mule at your disposal. For those that are not familiar (or just forget), the UAV is an unmanned airborne spy unit that can be used to locate rebel units, particularly snipers, and the mule is best described as an unmanned mobile armoury that you can use to restock ammunition or change weapon loadout. Like all units, both UAV and mule are also vulnerable to gunfire. A pretty cool feature of the game is that you can view the environment from any unit that you command, which gives you a feeling of being the unit. Of course, a more functional use of this feature is to sniff out enemy units. For instance, when the UAV is not available or enemy units are hiding under cover (e.g. in a building) sending a tank into a hotspot will allow you to pinpoint rebel units without getting yourself in harm's way. You can then order the tank to take the rebels out and watch from the tank's cockpit or flank them and do the deed yourself.

There are three difficulty settings - low risk, guarded risk and elevated risk. There doesn't appear to be a marked difference between the difficulty settings (even though there's supposed to be), except that you can more hits in the lower options. Thus, changing difficulty doesn't really make much for replay value.

Continued on next page...