In other words, the single player portion of GRAW2 is totally thrilling, and rarely frustrating. While you can complain that it’s a little short, I’d rather have eight hours of game I love than twelve hours of grudging admiration if half that time is spent grinding away at the same sections over and over again. In fact, if you’re sensible in your choice of difficulty level – not picking the easy option if you’re already an accomplished GRAW veteran – it should last you longer than that. Admittedly, the plot, the voicework and the in-game cut-scenes are ridiculously gung-ho stuff, but there are times when it’s so over the top that I’m beginning to suspect that Ubisoft Paris has tongues firmly planted in cheeks. Team America: World Police has nothing on this bunch.
Meanwhile, the multiplayer portion – the bit that actually kept the majority of people playing GRAW1 – is much better tied in this time around. For a start, it actually looks like the same game, not an only marginally related product, and the feel is closer to the single-player experience. While the solo and team deathmatch and battle modes are formidable, and boast some lovingly designed and distinctive maps (love the aircrash site and tumbledown village of Aftermath), the real treat is the co-op mode. Here players join forces to complete one of six, connected campaign missions – distinct from the single-player campaign – and the feel is midway between single-player GRAW and Battlefield 2. The threat of imminent and permanent demise acts as a deterrent against stupid heroics, while the lure of glory is a counter-balancing spur to stick with the team and do your job as a soldier. It can be tough – particularly if you’re left spectating for ten minutes while your team proceeds without your bullet-ridden behind – but it’s also one of the most entertaining offerings I’ve come across on Xbox Live.
All in all, then, that £40 price is worth paying. Would it have been nice to see a GRAW sequel with even more advanced visuals and a dramatic change of setting? Sure, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a hugely enjoyable tactical shooter that rivals last year’s Rainbow Six: Vegas for thrills. Call it a glorified mission pack if you must, but it’s the best damn glorified mission pack that this armchair soldier’s ever seen.
In terms of look and feel we’re playing spot the difference, but GRAW2 makes big improvements where it counts. Imagine GRAW with added fun.