Review by RockguyKev

"Game of the Year, again?"

Ghost Recon was the PC Game of the Year for many in 2001. For me it is dang close to being the Xbox Game of the Year for 2002. It's that good. Now, I am going to mention some flaws so don't get all upset, I love the game.

Gameplay:
10/10

''Russia...2008'' -click- Ok, that was enough of the story for me, let's get into the game! Seriously though, the story is some random geo-political war scenario like in just about every Tom Clancy story. You work as a cover ops team doing mean things to Russia and so on.

Who cares, let's play. The first thing you will notice is that the game's menus are hard to read, hard to navigate and ridiculously slow to respond. You will often times have to push A more than once before the game realizes you are doing it. Note, this is ONLY a menu problem, not at in game problem. You will set up a dossier (basically an account like in every other shooter where you set up controls and track completed missions) and then do what you wish. There is a short but thorough training mission that clearly explains the rather easy controls.

Played Halo? Good. This controls pretty much to the letter as Halo except without a jump button. The aiming system is the same where clicking the right stick zooms in. You'll feel righ at home. This game does have many more actions though but they all flow perfectly. You can duck and lie down by pushing down on the D-pad. You can call up a map and give team commands by pushing L. You change weapons by pressing B and reload with A. All easy, and all customizable.

My one complaint with the controls (and my last complaint of the review most likely) is that you can't have 2 different set ups if you play two players. If you like inverted aiming and your friend likes standard, one of you is going to have to spend a good amount of timing looking in the wrong direction. Ubisoft mentions this on their website and there is no fix for it, its a bug we all just have to deal with.

Controlling your team mates is easier than it has ever been in a Rainbow 6 game. Instead of planning before a game, you plan during the game. You set way point and give go commands from the command map while the action is still going on around you. It's very intuitive and a great improvement over the previous titles.

There are 2 main game modes for single player; campaign and quick mission. Campaign is a series of 15 missions with varying objectives (mostly just kill everything). Throughout the mode your team earns points that are used to improve their skills in an RPGish fashion, very cool. You can also earn new character by completing each mission with every objective.

The quick mission games are a very interesting addition. They are basically the same maps and missions as in Campaign but with special modifiers. There is a game type, for example, called fire fight where the goal is to kill all of the, now greatly increased in numbers, enemies in a level. That's some fun.

The game is limited to two players split screen multiplayer. You can play a ton of modes including co-op campaign and deathmatch style games but with only 2 players. With system link or Xbox Live, however, you get up to 16 players.

And let me tell you, the game ROCKS on Live with a bunch of players. You can read my review on Unreal Championship to see how I feel about random fragfests, this game isn't one. The only problem with Live play is finding a good host. This game takes some serious upload speeds for hosts and people just aren't understanding that yet. People keep trying to host 10 man games with a 256k up connection and it just doesn't work.

NOTE TO ONLINE PLAYERS:
To talk you MUST push the White button, this includes when you're in the lobby, thank you.
END NOTE TO ONLINE PLAYERS

The best games I've played so far are 3 on 3 team with no respawns (once you're dead, you're dead) and a 10 man free for all with respawns. The 3 on 3 team play is superior to just about any other gaming experience out there. You are completely reliant on your team mates for support. I actually feel bad when I die because I feel I'm hurting the team. The action gets intense. I promise that the second you hear a gun shot, you'll dive for the ground. Maybe then you'll think to ask your team if they were shooting or being shot.

Each player can choose a unique weapon set which furthers the team strategy. A team full of snipers will probably lose since a single assault guy can take down 3 snipers before they can fire a shot (assuming they don't find him first...) A team without a sniper though faces the fear of being able to see only about a third as far as their opponents. And hey, you want to really scare someone? Fire an anti-tank rocket or grenade anywhere near them. They will lose their hearing for about 15 seconds giving you time to move silently. THAT IS SO FREAKING AWESOME.

This also plays out interestingly in deathmatch. We played a game yesterday with 10 players and I think we had only one sniper. The level we played dropped us all into really close proximity (I never made it out of the building I started in since there were bullets flying in front of my face every time I started to exit!). One sniper managed to get up into the hills and he started racking up the kills. People kept whining, I get laughing. He beat us all and did it with some serious style. Someone did finally find him but not before he had racked up enough kills to easily win the match.

Strategy kids, strategy. This game requires it and rewards it. Want to mindlessly fire rockets into a crowd? Get Unreal Championship. Want to actually feel like your game means something? Get Ghost Recon.

Graphics
7/10
I think they are great but many reviews have hit them harshly. From what I can see the character models look great, there terrain looks great, the sight distance is plenty good and there isn't any slowdown. There is significant pop up (mostly when you are zoomed in) but that is to be expected in a game with such huge environments.

My only complaint with the graphics, as I mentioned before, is the terrible menu system. It's hard to read and functions slowly, but it doesn't hinder the game play.

One note here, many people whine that you can't see your gun while you're playing. To all of you I say, get a life. Find something real to complain about then get back to me.

Sound
9/10
Only loses a point for the silly ''tick tick tick'' sound of the silenced weapons. The voices are clear, the environmental effects are impressive (birds, wind when you're high up in the hills, waves, etc.) Rockets and sniper rifles sound awesome and the aforementioned ''fuzzy silence'' you hear when an explosive goes off near your head is simply incredible.

Replay Value
10/10
Easily going to last your into the next century if you have Live. Even without Live, heck even without a second player, there is a TON to do here. The missions are long and sport 3 difficulties and quick match could be entertaining for weeks. This game is easily worth its purchase price.

Overall
10/10
There, I did it. I gave a game a 10. I think I may have only done this once or twice before (Soul Calibur and Grandia II I think..) but this game deserves it. Even with Ubisoft's silly menu problems and lack of dual control set ups this game is simply awesome. If Morrowind hadn't come out this year it would without question be my Game of the Year so far (Note: I haven't played Metroid yet so don't get all upset.). Its easily one of the best shooters I've played on any system ever.

Rent/buy?
Buy it man, come get killed by me on Live!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/19/02, Updated 11/19/02


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