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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, a DVD-ROM in English by GRIN for Ubisoft, distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows XP and a 2 Ghz Pentium IV PC or better, for ages 16 through adult, NIS 219.
Rating: *** 1/2
Special forces units need a lot of might to fight their enemies - and PCs need a great deal of computing power to run this first-person tactical shooter game about such a unit trying to save the President of the United States from plotting Mexican rebels. If you don't have plenty of RAM and hard disk space and a strong CPU, it isn't worth buying this game, as it is likely to crash from time to time and present less-than-optimum graphics. You must also install Ageia's Physics Processor Unit from the DVD-ROM for the animations. Even if your computer does meet the minimum requirements, you may be disappointed with it.
Based on a novel by Tom Clancy (not the first, as the admirable Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell were also founded on his work or named for him) and developed by a Swedish software company, the game is set in the year 2013. The US president has come to Mexico City to attend a summit meeting with the prime minister of Canada and the president of Mexico. As Captain Scott Mitchell, leader of the elite squad of four soldiers called "Ghosts," you are entrusted with guarding the summit, which is attacked by the rebels who murder the Canadian leader and capture the US and Mexican presidents.
To make matters worse, nuclear codes have been stolen by the renegades, who have powerful US-made weaponry at their disposal and want to create absolute chaos. Your team - weighed down by 40 kilos of gear - are on their tail. The Ghosts have sniper rifles and machineguns (whose eyepieces reflect the scene as you move), silencers (which slow the bullets while improving stealth ability), grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons and other powerful armaments and can ride in a helicopter in some missions. You can also use a camera-equipped drone that hovers over the urban battlefield. But even though the game is set in the near-future, there are no super-modern, sci-fi weapons that you have not seen in other shooter games.
Urban, house-to-house fighting is the name of this game, and the entire South American city is where you play it. Begin with a training session to learn the ropes. While the urban scene is sprawling and expansive, its looks are disappointing, with the environment painted in depressing shades of brown and gray. Tactical "Cross Com" maps help you work out your battle strategies and issue orders to other Ghosts while providing a satellite view of your current position that is updated in real time. However, your colleagues - while usually ready to carry out commands - are not very intelligent and lack reasonable initiative of their own when facing danger. The enemy's artificial intelligence isn't great either, and sometimes they seem to go forward as if they were walking to a party rather than paying attention to a barrage of bullets fired at them.
From time to time, a helpful communications window appears as an inset on the upper right-hand corner for keeping the squad in touch. If you press the shift button, you can run, but you are unable to shoot at the same time. To change weapons, you first have to press the F key and then scroll down to the type you want; this cumbersome mechanism wastes precious time during battle. When the squad leader is killed, you have to start the mission again. Between missions, you and your inevitably wounded comrades automatically regain your health, but this convenient feature minimizes the realism of battle.
The most "enjoyable activities" for an urban fighter are to dart across the street, run for cover and then shoot. The lack of civilians in the streets is surprising and disappointing, making the city seem abandoned. Sound effects, which include occasional pieces of tense music, are realistic for each individual weapon, and these merge with fearful cries and city noises. You can play until the end of your last mission for about 14 hours without seeing much blood, which is surprising, given the fact that the minimum recommended age for this game is 16.