I'm cold. So very, very cold. Some would say that in order to go to war and kill another man, some degree of coldness is required, but I'm pretty sure they didn't mean this cold. It turns out that paintballing in England, in February, is not too clever.
You see, I thought the opportunity to go with Ubisoft and play some real-life Ghost Recon could be fun - a chance to get kitted out, execute some tactical maneuvers and get down and dirty with the Frag Dolls. The reality turned out to be somewhat more challenging, since my fingers were so numb, I could barely hold a gun. Not one to complain, I parked myself next to a heater and fired up the nearest Xbox 360 for a go at the latest build of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter.
The game is due out on the 10th of March for the Xbox 360 and 31st of March for the PC. As such, the game is essentially complete, so we were able to get a pretty good idea of how the game is measuring up, though Ubisoft made it clear we weren't playing gold code. Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter was one of the first titles announced for the Xbox 360, and the Ghost Recon series is a mainstay of the PC tactical-FPS gaming world, so a next-gen version is something to get rather excited about.
Being a 'next-gen' title, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter looks pretty darned awesome. The first thing you'll probably notice are the rather nice high resolution textures - take cover behind some rocks, or hit the asphalt to avoid a swathe of machine gun fire and you'll see the power of the new Xbox. Everything is high-polygon and normal-mapped for general graphical sweetness. We're not quite talking DoA4 here, but we're definitely talking way beyond Source or F.E.A.R.
There's HDR in there too - the sun glints off rocks and water rather nicely, and coming from a dark inside area out into the bright sunlight makes for quite an eyeful. It's not quite on the same emphatic scale as the effects we see in the Source engine, it's rather more subtle - but nice, nonetheless.
Character models look pretty good, too, with facial and equipment specifics rendered in pretty accurate detail. The lighting is fantastic, with the sun and the overall ambience perfect for the setting. It's not often you can really believe in a game location, but this is one of those occasions.
If there was one thing the graphical menu has missing, we'd say it's weather effects. Across the range of levels we played, there was a notable absence of rain, snow, sand or dust blowing across the level, something that we're now desperate to see more of, following our days of ogling at 3DMark06. One can't help but wonder if the desert shouldn't be rather more hostile.
All Xbox 360 games are supposed to be anti-aliased, thanks to custom ATI hardware that does the trick for free. In this version of the code, however, it was evidently not working, with a fair few hefty jaggies in sight. Hopefully this will be tidied up before the final release.