Graphically GRAW epitomises next generation gaming, but there’s a lot more to a great game than graphics alone. Thankfully this game isn’t just a pretty face, and there’s a lot to be commended elsewhere. The single player campaign mode is challenging to say the least and there’s enough variety in the missions to keep you plugging away to the end. I won’t go into much detail about the storyline, but it’s fairly predictable US flag waving fare. Set in the near future, Mexico is plunged into turmoil as rebels attempt to overthrow the government – luckily the US is on hand to send in some crack troops and save the day. Like I said, very predictable, but no more so than your average mid-budget Hollywood action movie – throw Steven Seagal into the mix and GRAW could be easily a Channel 5 midweek movie.
It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the control method, and generally it all works very well. The default view is an “over the shoulder” third person method – this works pretty well, especially if you’re used to the Splinter Cell series or even SOCOM on the PS2. Personally I prefer a first person view in a game like this and a quick trip to the options menu granted my wish. To be fair both views have their plus and minus points, but I’m so used to playing first person shooter games on the PC, that the over the shoulder view just feels a bit alien to me.
As with any urban warfare game, running blindly into enemy fire is going to get you killed pretty damn quick – the key to survival is making good use of the cover afforded to you. Thankfully Ubisoft has made it very easy to make the most of the walls, cars and barrels that litter the environment. Simply move towards a wall, keep pressing the stick forwards and you’ll automatically hug the surface. From there it’s easy to peek around the edge and take pot shots at your enemies without ever having to venture out into the open. A simple click of the contextual action button will make you step away from the wall and carry on with whichever Spec-Ops mission you might be undertaking. The contextual action button will do a multitude of things in different situations – it will make you roll while prone, jump over obstacles when confronted with them and plant explosives when necessary.
The left analogue stick will move you forward and backwards, while also strafing left and right. Clicking will make you crouch, while clicking and holding will put you in a prone position. The right stick obviously controls aiming, while clicking will zoom in, if you’re using a weapon with a scope. The left trigger takes a careful aim, but when used in conjunction with a scoped weapon in zoom mode, the left trigger will hold your breath in order to steady your aim. The right trigger is your primary fire button. As well as the “Y” contextual action button, you also have the “A” weapon reload button which will also switch between single shot and burst mode. The “B” button will cycle through your weapons, while the “X” button will switch night vision on and off. Obviously you can change the controller config, but I found the default pretty intuitive. If there’s one control aspect I didn’t like, it’s that there isn’t a dedicated button for grenade throwing – I find that if I have to manually select a grenade before using one, it’s too late.