PC gamers can be a hardcore bunch at times. Years of upgrading, tweaking, more upgrading, reinstalls, more upgrading and general maintenance has meant they are rather picky when it comes to games. Ask any veteran PC gamer about console games and you'll probably be met with something about the lack of keyboard and mouse, and how consoles become outdated too quickly. Ports over from consoles often insult these guys, unhappy by the treatment their beloved gaming platform has received. So when Ghost Recon became a console franchise, the news wasn't met with much love.
But PC gamers needn't have worried too much. While Xbox 360 owners got a tactical but still fairly arcadey third-person shooter, Ubisoft and Grin Software developed the PC version separately, building it to the strengths of the platform. GRAW on the PC is an altogether more hardcore experience, where the difficulty is punishing, the view is first-person and that arcade feel is nowhere to be seen. Fans are in luck, as Grin has gone it alone once again with GRAW 2 for PC.
Although completely different games, GRAW 2 on the PC shares the same basic story and setting as the hit Xbox 360 game. The big differences come in how the game is played and the increased number of options in each mission. To start with, you have far more control over your squad mates. While the 360 game allowed you to set move orders and the rules for each engagement - be it full-on assault or recon - in the PC game you can set up and carry out far more precise manoeuvres.
GRAW 2's tactical map in the PC game allows you to set orders for each member of your team, and not just one thing at a time. You can give each member a series of orders that you want to be carried out on your say. It's the kind of thing that simply wouldn't work in a console game, but on the PC where you've got the mouse and the users are more accustomed to advanced tactical play, it makes a big difference. You can even go as far as setting firing cones, which specify which zones you want each Ghost to focus on. The whole game feels completely different to Ubisoft's Xbox 360 effort.
On the battlefield it also appears that you have more choice over how to tackle each mission. From the three-level preview build the very first level is perhaps the best example, with your goals being threefold: locate and destroy the main rebel camp, destroy artillery tanks in caves, and secure this zone and then blow up a bridge. Even before you begin you have options, with your helicopter able to drop your team in one of two locations. Depending on where you choose to drop, you can tackle the mission in one of three ways.
The most obvious is to take the first route you encounter, taking out an enemy convoy and then attacking the camp from the rear. Alternatively you can go straight through the village, taking out any rebels on your way. The final option is to sneak around the side of the map, going under the main bridge and attacking the outpost from behind. Just as in GRAW and GRAW 2 on the Xbox 360, you have access to a scout drone that can fly off and give you a tactical advantage over your enemies. It proves essential when setting up carefully orchestrated attacks.
Despite still undergoing various bug fixes and polish, GRAW 2 on PC is shaping up very nicely indeed. Visually it's more gritty and subdued than its Xbox 360 counterpart, but that's no bad thing. The game is a slower, more precise affair, with none of the cosnole friendliness seen in the 360 game, so a harsher appearance fits very well indeed. Multiplayer will of course make an appearance and should satisfy PC gamers who long for more tactical encounters, but we'll have to wait until the review to find out how the full game pans out.