Review by Gruel

""You may as well come too.""

I heard a lot of hype for award-winning squad based shooter, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon. Everybody was telling me how great this game is. My co-worker, and all around computer geek says, “oh yeah, you’ll like this one for sure.” The cover for Ghost Recon said other popular media named this their Game of the Year. From all the good things everyone has been telling me, and being a fan of other PC squad based shooters such as Delta Force, I thought I was going to be in for a real treat. Instead, I got the unexpected.

Ghost Recon is set in 2008 with the primary focus being a new group of rebels overthrowing the Russian government in hopes of bringing back the old Soviet Union. They’ve already begun snagging the old republics like Belarus and Ukraine, and nobody has been trying to stop them. That’s where you come in. You are leading the best soldiers, mission by mission so you can take down this coalition.

Ghost Recon is comprised of fifteen missions, which can later be played from any point after completing them. There’s a great tutorial included so you can learn the ropes of using all the weapons and tactics involved during game play. After an informative audio briefing from your instructor, you get to customize your squad by choosing six soldiers that specialize in assault, sniping, or explosives. There are well over a dozen weapons to arm your soldiers with that include machine guns, pistols for your side arms, among others. I wish I could’ve had a few more soldiers in my squad because in the fast paced skirmishes in Ghost Recon, my troops perish rather fast.

Your six troops are separated into three squads: Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. You can switch to the head troop in each squad so you can maneuver them around to your liking. This comes in handy a lot, because I trust my strategy a lot more than the AI offers. If you want to rely on the AI, then you get this command cluster that pops up whenever you hold shift. On this nice little map, you can position your squads, have them take action, or hold fire, or maneuver at all costs. Doing this is a bit on the tricky side, and you’ll have to guess on this tiny map where you want them. If you move them an inch too far, they’ll wind up in enemy fire, without cover.

All the moves you expect are in here. You can jump, crouch, or kneel behind objects for cover. You’ll do this a lot because don’t expect your run and gun tactics from your Doom days to come in handy. The sound of the enemy firing at you will be your first alert of them, and they are hard as hell to find with your own eyes. Thankfully, little red arrows pop around your aiming reticule to inform you where enemy fire is coming from, but they only do so much. This may cater to fans crying for a realistic experience, but it ends up more on the frustrating side.

Your troops will radio in, notifying you when they take down enemies, or if they’re injured or have fallen in battle. The latter will most often happen because the AI of your troops is insanely stupid. When you take cover when a battle starts between the enemies, you’ll notice some of your troops simply walking out in the open, waiting to be shot. What really ticks me off is when they’re injured, and limping behind, holding up the squad. I hate to do it, but I always put them out of their misery, much like in the James Brothers movie.

The real teamwork aspect comes alive in online play. There several multi player modes such as Hamburger Hill, Last Man Standing, and Search and Rescue. If you’re playing through Ubi.com, it’ll save all your stats for bragging rights. I prefer the online play more not only because it’s fun, but your human partners are a hell of a lot smarter than the aforementioned computer ones.

The in game graphics for Ghost Recon are marvelous. The way the snipers are decked out in camouflage will leave a few jaws dropped. Watching blood and water soak through your outfits is truly amazing. The environments that GR is set in aren’t the most impressive thing in the world. The usual jungle and desert settings the game is set in seem more on the pixilated side, than polygonal. Perhaps this is because the requirements aren’t that high for GR, and most people will get this game to run at great speeds with systems from a few years ago.

There are a couple things that puzzle me about the graphics. For starters, this is a first person perspective game, and I have no idea why the developers at Red Storm didn’t allow you to see your weapons. I always enjoy seeing my guns fire off rounds into countless victims, but I’m baffled to why this common feature isn’t included. Also, the topography map included in your command cluster during game play is a bit on the sloppy side. As I said before, it’s hard to pinpoint the most accurate locations, and you’ll often find your allies walking into danger instead.

The way the save/load works in Ghost Recon is plain out, awkward. Whenever you die, you go to your last check point, you can manually save somewhere in mid-game, but you can’t load a game that way. Instead you are forced to go through the tiresome process of quitting out of your game and going through a few loading times to load the game up from the main menu.

Each weapon in GR has its own distinctive sound to it. Most of these effects get the job done, and I don’t pay much attention to them anyways. The voice acting from your comrades is one of the highpoints of the audio. They sound like they came right out of a movie, and give you a sense of being out there in the heat of action with them. The background music is fairly good. The various chopper effects and rhythms of music are a great mix, but too bad they only occur during the game menus.

If you like challenges, then you’re going to love completing all fifteen of the missions Ghost Recon. The enemy AI is extremely good, and they’ll give you a run for your money. What you’ll enjoy the most is the online play over Ubi.com. Thousands of players can still be found over the servers in the various modes of play. As I said before, the human mind as your partner is eons better than those of the computer in GR.

RATINGS

Graphics: 6.4
Sound: 8.5
Game play: 6.0
Replay Value: 8.0

Overall: 7.1

Spec Ops on the PSone comes to mind whenever I play Ghost Recon, except that it’s not that bad or buggy. GR can be an enjoyable shooter, as long as you get by the bugs found in the AI and graphics. The online play is what I prefer the most, and I’m sure that’ll be the case for everyone else out there as well. If you’re a fan of other squad based shooters such as Delta Force, or Rogue Spear, then make sure to check this out. Otherwise, you might want to borrow this one from the geeky computer friend next door to try out first.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/14/02, Updated 11/14/02


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