Advanced tactics:

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I’ve had my Xbox 360 for months, and the game I’ve spent the most time with isn’t a 360 game at all. “Halo 2,” designed for the old Xbox but playable on the new one, is really the only game that can drag me into the wee hours.

But now “Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter” is the next big thing on my 360 gaming list. This title doesn’t have the thunder of “Halo 2.” But we’re not talking about “Halo 3” here. This is a more realistic war game that is unparalleled in its playing options and battlefield strategies.

The game has an excellent campaign mode, where you play through missions as a soldier whose technological advancements are unmatched in other games. The online multiplayer battles feature typical death match or capture-the-flag-style games in which up to 16 players can square off. But there’s also a cooperative campaign feature that allows your group to team up against computer-controlled opponents. There are a multitude of options for custom games, too.

In the offline campaign mode, you are offered more control than ever before. Not only do you command squad mates in traditional ways, ordering them to attack or fall back, but also you can simultaneously control Black Hawk choppers and a spy drone in the air. On land, you can direct personnel carriers.

All of this plays out in beautifully defined war zones, thanks to the 360’s unmatched graphic capabilities. The only nit I have is that the environments should be more destructible, as they are in today’s best games.

There are lots of guns to choose, and you can handpick your squad mates’ specialties and firepower. Each of them is wired with a camera that shows you what they see by way of a tiny video screen in the top left of your display.

If there are control issues, they lie within the squad commands. It’s difficult to cycle through all the things you can command during battle, but you pick it up eventually. My biggest problem was that even when I ordered soldiers to follow me, they seemed to sometimes lag behind

Unfortunately, there’s no “Halo”-style, hand-to-hand combat. But the sharpshooting is excellent. Many weapons zoom in for the long kill, and a pull of the left trigger holds your breath for accuracy.

Lots of little details like that make this game tough to learn, but worthwhile. I can finally give “Halo 2” a rest.

(c) 2006, Detroit Free Press.

Visit the Freep, the World Wide Web site of the Detroit Free Press, at http://www.freep.com.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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