Due to the release of GRAW 2 this week, it may be better (for the time) being to give you a few observations of what we saw there in regards to gameplay mechanics and visual enhancements over the previous title prior to the full write-up that is still pending.
I think we got to run through about 10 or 12 different maps, and each one is simply stunning. The details they have included is beyond what any of us could have hoped for. I told Serellen flat-out that this is probably the best looking game on the 360 to date. The way they have implemented the new lighting is amazing, the small touches to the environment is a much-needed boost to gameplay and realism.
I fully expected a "here is this and here is this and here is the door, thank you very much for coming" type of experience with Red Storm, but that couldn't be further from what actually happened. They spent so much time with us and they never passed on a single question. They were very forthcoming and explained in great detail what they could and couldn't pull off, from technology limits to fun-factor. One example brought up was a true "Blind Siege" gametype where the attacking team doesn't know where the siege point is at first until they recon the area. It was explained that was actually attempted early in the gametype cycle, but didn't play out as well as was hoped.
For true fans of the series, you are going to be very impressed at the game, not for what has been presented but for proof that they do listen to the gamers and their concerns. They have brought something to the table that will truly satisfy gamers across a broad spectrum of gameplay style and you can tell that they are extremely proud at the results of their hard work.
From all the maps we played, 3 that really stood out for me was Aftermath, Fort, and Embassy. The lighting effects in Aftermath and the ingame elements such as flowing water, tall grass, and the battered buildings are truly extraordinary. Fort was another where they included such small details such as those telescopic viewfinders you have seen at all tourist locales to the "you-are-here" map structure that is laid out (and readable) in the game. In fact, I zoomed in all the writings of the statues/structures and they were all readable. The stones in the fort weren't the same 5 stones used over and over like in other games, but all distinct and different. Heck, every map was played was a treat to just look at and admire. (I didn't even fire off a round the first 5 minutes or so during each map restart.... the game is simply gorgeous to look at).
Gameplay is what the series is all about, and even folks that do not like co-op gameplay will most likely get a kick out of this. Numerous times I would pin an AI group of enemies behind a certain area, and the AI would adjust to the fire and try to flank around to my position in a way that was never evident in the first GRAW. The AI in the game is no slouch either, so anyone that doesn't use good tactics and maneuvers will likely get slaughtered. The AI scripters have done a brilliant job with the AI element in the game.
The new medic feature is a welcome addition to the game, and changes the dynamic of LMS-style matches quite a bit. It reinforces the team-aspect to the game even more, since you can be revived if the shot doesn't kill you off. So it is beneficial for your teammates to work their way into position for the revive to bring that team-member back into the fight. However, when you are revived, you do not have full health like so many other games out there.. nice touch.
Being able to choose and save your loadout for each class was another welcome feature. Now you don't just have one roletype profile, you have one for each class.
Overall, I think the community will be very happy with the new title, and I personally can't wait for the game to be released.
I would once again like to thank ZJJ for allowing me to take part of this, and Christian Allen (Serellan), Angeline, and all the great people at RSE for taking the time out of their busy day to grant us a behind-the-scenes view of the game that we hold in such high regard. They are great people to sit and talk with and you can just tell that they are passionate about the game just as much as the fans are.
Oh, one more tidbit: I can say that they are aware of the issue with the demo regarding the comms/sound issue when joining from the dashboard. Don't worry about it. By design of the demo compared to the main game, there is nothing for you to worry about when the retail version hits the shelves.