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PCFormat GRAW review


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Uk PC Magazine, PCFormat has a four page review of GR:AW in the June 2006 issue (#188)

here is a highlight for non UK members who aren't able to buy a copy

STREET FIGHTER

So this is the world of GRAW then. Imagine a city, full of entrenched enemies that will outflank you at any opportunity. You make your way through it. checking all the angles, ordering your men with the map or directly, moving street by street, plaza by plaza, very, very slowly It's tense all the time. So much so it’s actually physically tiring. And when you get tired you make mistakes.

It might be that you don't spot a few men until It's too late and blunder round a corner into startled shouts and aimless gunfire, or it may be that a literal truckload of reinforcements hurtle in the open plaza you're crossing before you get a chance to see them coming but whatever the cause the results it’s the same. A frantic firefight. In stark contrast to the slow paced, well plan ambushes you frequently make, these firefights are crazy, hectic moments -where you make good use of the excellent 'sliding-to-cover-on-your-ass move’, bullets tearing out chunks of masonry around your ears as you desperately return fire and try to con the situation before someone on your team gets killed. When firefights like this happen, it's deliriously loud and manic and fun and scary and it's the second thing GRAW does very, very well.

GHOST BUSTED

But crushingly GRAW is flawed. Deeply and fundamentally flawed. It's let by a two-pronged failure of design execution, manifested in two utterly crucial elements - Al and level design

Let's get the most serious out of the way first; level design. Al is less critical for reasons we'll explain shortly. The achingly slow progression often works like this: You move into a new street, kill most of the badguys, but miss one hidden somewhere and get killed. You go back to the last checkpoint (frequently an hour's play or so ago, there are no quicksaves) and replay the last few blocks of Mexico City having memorised where the enemies were hiding. You get to the point where you died, kill that guy who got you before and move to the next repeat the process. This utter grind is personified in a later level where you are literally making your way uphill, dying and returning to the bottom to start over

Prong Two: AI. Your crack Ghost team are actually utterly useless idiots and must be babysat and coaxed into action in the most infuriating way. They'll walk backwards around corners, go bizarrely out of their way to find the most awkward route to a designated locationn (meaning you have to spend ages micro-managing their movements in the Sat Cam view), pick illogical cover and more than once the psycho squaddies pushed PCFormat out of it's cover in order to reach somewhere they wanted to go.

That's quite simply unforgivable. The only reason it didn't drop the score 20% than it did is that we'd argue GRAW is a game to be played not with the rubbish Al, but with three of your mates online.

The entire campaign is playable cooperatively and to judge it as a singleplayer experience is like reviewing Battlefield 2 having only ever played it with bots. That said, a lot, perhaps even most people will play it offline first and for that the Al simply doesn't cut it. GRIN has assured PCFormat that a patch is being released on launch day that addresses some AI issues but we'll have to wait and see for that. Not everyone will check for patches before playing...

And that's the real issue we have with GRAW. It isn't finished. It was already put back to the May release date from February but it clearly wasn't enough. Poor Al and instant patching are not the evidence that GRAW isn't balancing issues, oddly incongruous texture and model deficiencies in an otherwise beautiful game that scream . 'placeholder' and a raft of other minor niggles that could have been fixed, indeed were probably meant to be fixed, if there weren't more important things needed to get the game working.

It's a crying shame because GRIN has performed some outstanding work throughout much of Advanced Warfighter. There are moments of real cinematic flair and gaming innovation and in general it's a truly excellent game, but it could-have been a truly excellent game in total and that's what's disappointing. It's a high 80s gamer for the action, tension and environment, but it's let down by fundamental failures that force us to score it more harshly. It's a flawed spectacular of a game - a diamond far too rough around the edges' to be considered perfect, but one that sparkles nonetheless.

80% PCFsays... "Superlative urban combat, held back by poor Al and some grinding levels."

Reasons to be tearful...

Three things that hold GRAW back from greatness

*Appalling Team Al. The Mexican rebels will happily surround and engulf you, but your teammates are complete buffoons who, because they're desperately trying to cover your back at all times, will walk backwards around corners and push you out into the street. Thanks, guys.

*Sat Cam orders in Co-op. We've said that Advanced Warfighter is meant to be played cooperatively, so why can't other players see orders laid out on the tactical map by the squad leader? Other cooperative mode issues abound, like a generally poor interface and several unoptimised missions.

*Incongruous levels. Just when you're getting used to team-based street fighting you'll be whipped off to play a solo mission (playable cooperatively if you're online), in a park or on a remote hilltop. GRAWs strength is the urban environment and it's missing big chunks of the game.

Have to say, a very fair and accurate review...

Oh and for you TvT fans there is a bit for you...

Unique multiplayer

Because we all love a bit of Domination

The multiplayer Domination mode has been drastically cut back from the ambitious original plan. We were promised a mode where areas of the map are held by weight of numbers. Captured areas would provide bonuses like the Sat Cam and Drone. What we have instead is half of that. A team-deathmatch that has the areas of domination, capturable only if there's a link between it and an already owned region, but no sign of the goodies.

Edited by Pave Low
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Kind of surprised at the level of detail in the review, they picked up on quite a few issues I dare say other mags will gloss over.

They might have not gone into much detail about some of the major issues these forums are aching with, but I don't think you can argue too much with their conclusions.

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I guess that is fairly accurate, although I'm not sure I agree on the AI issue. A very good game, that could have been (and probably will be, with a few patches) brilliant.

Either way, it more enjoyable (bugs and all) than any other game I currently own... I'm still anxiously awaiting mod tools, dedicated server files, more MP modes etc.

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Kind of surprised at the level of detail in the review, they picked up on quite a few issues I dare say other mags will gloss over.

They might have not gone into much detail about some of the major issues these forums are aching with, but I don't think you can argue too much with their conclusions.

It's a fair Review.....but although we have to live with it for now, GRIN are working on the patches and when there done it will/ should only get better....I'm not much a SP but enjoyed the CO-Op and the MP has got great potential......

For now 3 thumbs :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

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The AI is certainly an issue and i've seen in on both sides, enemy and friendlies walking backwards or seemingly unaware of a firefight that is louder than Hiroshima.

They hit the nail on the head with the 'placholders' dotted around the game.

This all confirms to me what i've been thinking, that it was pushed out the door too early.

Either Grin bit off more than they could chew or UBI lay down too short a dev time for a class act game.

The fast release of the first patch, also says that they were still working on issues prior to release.(You can bet most of the first patches content was written during the 2 weeks it was being pressed).

This game just required more time.Lets just hope that the upcoming patches are all thats required to get this game Great....

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Hmm strange but i find the idea of grindingly difficult progression to be just my cup of tea. In real life i'd be bricking it incase there was a roof sniper i had missed so if i played GRAW in co op with some friends then i like the idea that it would be necesary to totally scour every corner and ledge for the enemy. Reminds me a bit of how hard Hidden and dagnerous was at first.

The idea of encountering place holder textures is quite alarming.

The only AI i care about is enemy AI. I'd do co op or online tvt.

Seems to me that GRAW PC is a game for 2007. A couple of major patches in, an expansion or two with some countryside levels for team DM and everyone with 3 gigs of ram and not yet released graphics cards. GRAW could turn out to be a sleeper.

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Hmm strange but i find the idea of grindingly difficult progression to be just my cup of tea.

Yeah, me too :grin1: I've not quite found the same "learn where the enemy is" experience that the reviewers found. It might not differ too much before the bullets fly, but after that... it can be very different. More random patrols, or initial spawn points, would be nice though.

Seems to me that GRAW PC is a game for 2007. A couple of major patches in, an expansion or two with some countryside levels for team DM and everyone with 3 gigs of ram and not yet released graphics cards. GRAW could turn out to be a sleeper.

Agreed. GRIN designed this to have longevity, from a tech point of view, I think. More scalability right now would be nice... but in a year or so this game is going to look awesome.

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Thorough review, but launching with Domination as the multiplayer with it's need for multi respawns means it will be compared with Cod and BF which is unfortunate. For most players I know GR is about realism and serious squad play.

Hence the AI is more of an issue than the grinding.

Get them to review it again after a couple more patches and imho we've gotta be pushing the very high 90s.

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"The entire campaign is playable cooperatively " ? I doubt wether the reviewer has actually played the entire campaign. Since missions like Mayday Mayday are NOT available in co-op mode (only the solo campaign). There are a few others missing as well but this one sticks out the most. :blink:

Edited by }PW{ Payback
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This rocket scientist cites bad AI and bad level design as GRAW's biggest weaknesses. Frankly, I think he's clueless and he's disguising his lack of patience and failure to understand the gameplay mechanics of GRAW as objective criticism.

There seems to be plenty wrong with the game (although I love the sp and that's all I'm doing right now) but level design and friendly AI, both of which he identifies as fatally flawed are in fact two of its strongest characteristics.

You have to "work with" the friendly AI in a particular way, and this imposes a style of play different from any other shooter I've encountered. They are not flawless but can be very, very effective as long as the player understands the orders interface and knows when to tighten the leash versus when to let it play out. I'm currently on the "endless uphill" level he cites as evidence of the game's frustrations (Mission 6, forget the title, right after the tank mission) and, yes, I had to replay from checkpoint #2 many times in order to take that hill but (i) the game "plays fair" with me in that I always die as the result of my own mistakes rather than because of glitches or bad level design and (b) I realised that I could not win this mission without deploying my team to deal with multiple incoming threats. My health was in the red so I chose to maneuver the team from cover and use the satellite view to watch them deal with by far the most serious threat of the segment (the combined APC and dug-in HMG guarding the objective) with no active participation by me. One guy died, but they filleted at least eight rebels, most of them dug in behind heavy weapons and with multiple fire-lanes.

This critic mentions bad buddy AI and flawed level design when what he appears to be talking about really is nothing more than the absence of quicksaves. Like quite a few of the guys in this thread, I welcome the challenge represented by the removal of this safety net; I like to play this game like a Marine fireteam on a bad night in Fallujah. I don't want salvation to be no further away than the F5 key and I think both the friendly AI and the mission design are of a sufficient quality to justify the imposition of this mode of play without making the gamer feel frustrated.

So in other words I think this reviewer is not just mistaken, he's actually a hundred and eighty degrees wrong.

Edited by Bahger
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I use to hate the AI too,...but once I understood them, instead of trying to do it my way. they protect me and they work just fine with me. I understand why they choose some paths, etc. Heck they do better than me, I usualy let them kill and cover their backs!

I rarley have to micro manage unless I'm carrying out a specific attack I want done.

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Seems to me that GRAW PC is a game for 2007. A couple of major patches in, an expansion or two with some countryside levels for team DM and everyone with 3 gigs of ram and not yet released graphics cards. GRAW could turn out to be a sleeper.
Nice quote Poita. Thanks goodness for microchip technology. :blink:

I enjoyed reading PC Format in the UK as much as PC Gamer. Having read what 'little' there has been about the game in the US mags over here so far, I have to say that, unlike the US mags, I get the impression the reviewer actually played the game!!!

DS

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I don't know...maybe it is because I don't play much SP. Most shooters I get into are for the MP. But I love the SP in this game...it is actually challenging. As for the AI, I don't get what is so bad about them, but then again, I mostly use the tac map to give them orders. I don't expect them to be uber AI that are going to win the game for me...what would be the point in that???

I WANT to do most of the work, that is why I play the game. However, when I give them detailed orders, they usually come through for me. Even when I simply tell them to Cover or Attack or Move, they do pretty well. Yes, on occasion I might come across an area where they don't do too well, but then I just get in the tac map and tell them EXACTLY what to do and it usually works well.

I am a little peeved that most of these reviews just gloss over MP, when that is the portion of this game that needs so much more attention than SP or even Co-op.

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