Review by StavrosJ
"Extremely difficult, but still good"
Ghost Recon is the latest R6-esque tactical shooter. While R6 has you as a counter terrorist operative who operates indoors, Ghost Recon has you as a Delta Force-like soldier who operates outdoors. Though this game is now 3 years old, its still going strong.
For a game thats more than a year old, Ghost Recon still has pretty good graphics. Your environments are mostly outdoors, ranging from ruined cities, to foggy swamps, to giant canyons. They all look great with little details here and there, and weather effects like rain and fog look really great, making the environments seem real. The player models are good as well, they animate with lifelike quality and look very detailed with their uniforms. There are no gun models in the player view, but that has been the case with all Tom Clancy games so far so I'm not griping. Despite some bland textures here and there, GR's graphics are still competitive and with the 2 new expansion packs, you get desert and jungle levels, both of which look better than the original game's levels. Overall, the graphics are very good and suit this game well.
The sound here is perfect. There is no music to speak of, save the main menu themes, and that is good because it helps make the game more suspenseful. You'll find yourself moving about dense foliage without knowing where an enemy sniper could be, and when you do get shot, the sound of the bullet hitting you is very sudden and startling. The weapon noises are all taken from real gunfire, and they all sound solid and satisfying. The silenced weapons make nothing more than a dull click instead of the recognized 'pew' noise, but thats the way it is in real life. Overall sound is perfect.
The most important part of any game. GR involves you commanding a squad of 6 soldiers including yourself. You can pick these soldiers from a roster of around a dozen, some of them are specialists meaning they have greater skills. Speaking of skills, GR has a new scheme of allowing soldiers to gain a combat point after each successful mission, and this point can be used to improve their stealth, accuracy, endurance or leadership. This new system is very effective because it creates a sense of value in your men, and hopefully they'll implement it in Raven Shield. Anyway, after choosing your men and assigning them to a team, you embark on 15 missions. (30 if you include the expansion missions) Each of these 15 missions are pretty long, though a couple are short. These missions take a long time to finish mostly because of the difficulty level. There are about 30-45 enemies per mission depending on the difficulty level, and each of these enemies are as much of a threat as you are. If you've played R6, you'll know that 1 bullet on the average is enough to kill you, which leads me to my first gripe. Because GR's missions take place outdoors, enemy snipers are in abundance. Now when I say snipers I don't necesarrily mean a guy with a sniper rifle, because the enemies themselves possess superhuman eyesight and accuracy with their Ak-47s or whatever weapon they have. An enemy footsoldier is capable of seeing you even if you are camoflauged, and is capable of hitting you at prepostrously long ranges and killing you with a single bullet. At close range they're even deadlier, because the instance you poke your head within their view, you're a sure goner. Also as much as these enemies are elite with their weapons, some of them are really tough to kill. While most enemies die from a single shot from a 5.56mm or 7.62mm rifle, 9mm weapons are seriously underpowered in this game. Some enemy soldiers can survive three, yes, THREE pistol shots to their HEAD, some can actually live through 15 rounds of your m9 pistol, and some can live through a full clip of an MP5. These random moments of enemy invulnerability is really cheap considering they are wearing less armor than you are and they survive more shots than you. The conclusion to this is that the enemy AI in ghost recon can sometimes be way too tough and cheap, so I advice anyone who wants to get this to really be patient with it. Back on the good side, multiplayer is a blast when you're working with a group of your friends to finish the single player missions. While your team mates' AI in the SP game is very good, working with human beings against a computer foe instead of some deathmatch game is the kind of multiplayer there needs to be more of. In multiplayer you have a huge selection of guns to choose from. With the expansions, its well over 30 weapons to pick including some exotic ones like the MM1 Grenade launcher, the OICW and my favorite-the very deadly MG3. Each of the guns have differences in terms of accuracy, power and range so each weapon has its own ups and downs. The maps provide great oppurtunities to try out different strategies with your friends, so there's a lot of replay value in this game. There still is deathmatch and capture the flag, but thats the kind of multiplayer for games like Quake 3. So overall Ghost Recon has good single player that allows you to manage a squad of men and strategize against the opposition, and it has excellent multiplayer that lets you do the same thing with human players. Its somewhat bogged down by the superhuman AI, but its not enough to detract the game because the strategic opportunities the maps provide outshines this flaw.
Ghost Recon has good replayability, mostly due to the multiplayer element. I can't stress enough how fun it is to work with a group of your friends. If you don't have anyone to play this with, the single player missions are still worth retrying because you can try the game with different kinds of men and use different strategies. Or, you can go for the quick missions that allow you to drop into any mission with access to all the specialists. The different game modes help as well, especially the Defend mode which is extremely brutal and difficult, but still fun.
Ghost Recon's missions all contribute to one ultimate story. The original game's story is about Russian guerillas rebelling against the country, the desert expansion is about Ethiopian terrorists trying to take over a nearby country, and the jungle expansion is about Cuban terrorists trying to get a warlord into presidency by threatening voters. There are no plot twists or anything to these stories but they look and sound realistic, and each of your mission successes have an impact on the story. Overall the story isn't something to pay much attention to but when you do, it does a fine job.
BUY OR RENT?
With Raven shield just around the corner, you don't need to buy this because Raven Shield will have more weapons, better graphics, and hopefully better AI. But if you don't have a powerhouse to handle that game, Ghost Recon makes a good buy for anyone desiring a challenge. And just as it is with any CD you burn, its illegal.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/01/02, Updated 12/01/02
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