Review by Killerflare
"A wonderful game which suffers from some minorbugs and occasional bad AI."
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon is a military squad based simulation game. Everything you will find in this game is going to be realistic up to the point of feeling the stress and heat of the battlefield.
Word is the Russian Military has gone crazy and are invading the previously lost areas of the ex-Soviet Union, during the Cold War. As a terrible excuse, they are trying to annex areas that are occupied with rebels. The World smells something rotten behind these and that is the reason they send the Ghosts to cut the invasion from the roots.
This commando unit is a specialized branch of the US Army's Green Berets, ''D'' company. You are presented with a bunch of rookies that will eventually progress and improve thanks to the innovative stats system. This neat future lets you upgrade your soldier stats every time they participate in a single mission. The only downside is that everybody will receive 1 point regardless of the actions they did. For example: it does not matter if you did a heroic deed such as receiving a bullet-wound while covering the life of that useless soldier who did nothing in the mission. Everyone gets the same.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon takes a different approach from the previous Rainbow Six line. That is, their battlefield area belongs strictly to outside terrains only, with some variations (Hostage Rescue) unlike Rainbow Six indoor only missions. You will operate in the forests and plains of Russia. Gone are the complex way point system and the outfitting screens that confused many gamers. This time you will wear the same uniform from the beginning to the end of the campaign. The only cool twist you find is that the uniforms vary from the type of specialist. You will find a sniper with his gillie suit while the rifleman wears the typical green beret costume.
Your battle gear is different this time too, which goes in hand with a new weapon specialist classification system. A rifleman will use a m16 or m16/A2(grenade launcher) as his main weapon and a Beretta pistol as a secondary pistol which can be changed by extra-ammunition, or grenades. The sniper will use the l96A1(a sniper rifle) and has the choice of using a Beretta pistol, grenades or extra-ammunition as well. This means, you cannot let a rifleman use a sniper rifle and vice versa.
Gone are the useless flash bangs and heartbeat sensors. In fact, you will not need a heartbeat sensor thanks to the new radar system done ''exclusively'' for the playstation 2. This new radar system is a wonderful thing for entry players that want to have the first taste of a Tom Clancy squad based game. However, Redstorm didn't know or forgot that this thing would be a double-edged sword and cause some disappointments to the Veteran players as well. The main problem is with the addition of this new radar, things get too easy, and it takes the fun and realism of the game. The exclusion of the radar aid is not available until higher difficulty levels. If you want to play without radar, it will get harder as the enemies in elite will shoot from far distances and kill you with a few shots.
The game's visuals are good, and I can tell you it is not the very dramatic inferior version the xbox players claim it to be. You have to understand though that the playstation 2 console is inferior than the xbox. Instead of getting three times like the original PC version, you get two. You can put up to three different specialist on each one and command them via the new redesigned and easy to use map radar, or give orders in the go with the r3 button. Just pin-point the location you want your teammates to go and they will follow order perfectly.
The sound is crisp. The problem here is that you will not appreciate the game's true sound if you use the standard tv speakers as your way of hearing. I personally noticed the different when I switched from the ordinary tv speakers to a couple of cheap but very nice speakers. The difference was overwhelming. You will hear the sound of your boots ''hitting'' the asphalt and grass, the noise you make as running over a long period, the powerful sounds of your guns, the cry of the downed and the shout of the victorious. ''He is history'', Just lovely.
Gameplay-wise talking, the game will be without a doubt, very hard to players that have not tried a fps game. Experience fps console players will not suffer as much playing this game. Basically you control your aim with the second analog button, while you walk,run and shuffle (depending on the pressing sensitivity) with the left one. One feature that will be hard to both experienced and non-experienced players will be the use of the in-game map. The key to ''mastering'' this really simple key point is to practice. That means, just play and play. Easy, no need to read big instruction booklets.
However there are some negative factors in the game's AI system. That is, as the video intro said, the Ghosts will attack swiftly, silently and invisible. You expect this elite commando squad to neutralize threats from a very far distance clean and fast but the truth is different. Often you will find in a tight and difficult situation in which you need your teammates to eliminate a group of rebels (that you are actually seeing) in order for you to advance but they will sit still. Even the sniper won't fire a shoot unless the enemy gets right into their laps. I have found this to happen very often in the beginning, when your overall stats are low. However this seem to change very fast as your teammates raise their stats and ''convert'' into crack shots. It has happened to me; while scouting an area clear of enemies, a teammate has fired a single shot just to see fall an enemy out of the bushes in front of me. It is true, they are lame in the beginning, but in the later missions, they are almost god-like.
Another negative factor is that annoying bug that makes the screen load indefinitely, which means it is time to reload and do the mission again. I have found myself in this situation, at least twice, and I hope those two are the last. Still the fatal bugs are not here, such as losing saving games or those that make the game totally unplayable.
Not everything in this game is single player. Yes, you have the choice to go 1on1 in cooperative or adversarial mode. Many people have critiqued the fact that you have to pass a mission in order to play on multiplayer mode. I personally don't find that a bad idea. What do you expect? Do you want everything opened from the beginning?
As far as thing and bonus feature to unlock, there are a lot of stuff. You will unlock a bonus operative if you accomplish the ''X'' objective who will bring new weapons and combat experience to your platoon. As far as unlockable non-gameplay stuff, you will get a movie each time you finish a mission, screens from the each mission, info about the weapons the ghost use, design logs from the game creators. You get the idea... there is a lot of stuff to read and see.
This game is really good aside from the previous negative facts I listed. The truth is the only people that will truly appreciate the ps2 version of the game are the Tom Clancy/Rainbow six fanatics. Attention: People that want a fast paced fps game, filled with a lot of gore, unrealistic weapons and a health bar, please refrain from getting this game and adding more negative reviews to the already existing ones. This game is clearly for the long time followers of the Rainbow Six line.
PS:You will get another nice bonus exclusively to the playstation 2, if you finish the Russian Campaign. You want to find out? That is up to you.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/03/03, Updated 03/03/03
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