Review by Tsutomu Senkawa

"Here's a game out standing in its field."

What to say, what to say.... Well, I haven't finished it yet, and may not (it is _extremely_ difficult), but I can recognize that it does some things exceptionally well. For one thing, very few shooters feature a genuine co-op mode, a previous staple of the arcades. Haven't seen a good one since Doom, really (as shooters go; sorry, but Quake's goofy walking and jumping animation made it impossible to take seriously). Enough about that, here's the low-down:

Grizaphics -- 8/10

Really coulda been better, though still very good. I guess, since you have to switch from soldier to soldier on the fly (which is not as easy as it sounds), rendering different weapons for each soldier was just too much for Red Storm to handle. That alone isn't a big deal, though it's a shame considering how good the third-person models are (better than any of the original Counter-Strike models, and better than most user mods). Night vision is handled well, and trees and assorted other vegetation are quite convincing. Player models look good, too, with smooth animations and neat details, like water soaking through their BDUs when they cross rivers. The command map looks terrible, though, which _is_ a serious problem.

Shazounds -- 6/10

Sorry, but I'm not impressed by this category. The sampling for the gunshots sounds very amateurish, with impossibly quick dropoff and not much ''punch.'' Example: you get behind a heavy machine gun, and tap off a single round. You hear, literally, half a shot. No rolling echo, no fade-out, just sharp drop-off. Yecch. All the sounds are accurate enough, and seem to come from the right weapons; they're just sampled poorly. The high point here, which earns all of the six points, is the variety and impact of the ricochets. They'll have you ducking instinctively. Very real. And then, worst of all, there's the environmental sound. This defies description for how bad it is. I actually had to tear the headphones from my ears on several oocasions because the _insane_ amount of echo inside _any enclosed space_ sets up this godawful feedback loop. My advice: switch off the EAX sound. Maybe it's just my machine, but considering I have an SB card that not only supports EAX but practically introduced it, I kind of doubt it.

Gishlashishamusplay -- 4/10

Blecch! Puke! God, what were they thinking? The most realistic game ever? Ahahahahaa! First of all, games are not realistic, they cannot possibly be (quicksave, anyone?), but besides that, calling this game realistic is a joke.
1. Your ''Ghost'' squad all start out as rookies. I thought they were supposed to be elite?
2. No jump. Yeah, I know these guys carry a lot of gear. Yeah, I know most action games overdo it, giving everyone six feet of vertical, but come on! You can't even hop or vault over low railings, hedges, sandbags, anything! What's all that obstacle course crap for in basic if you never use any of it? You can't even dive for cover, and many times you will want to. You can't see your weapon when you aim it (I guess you're holding it at your hip), there's no retreat command, etc., etc. etc.
3. Invisible barriers, everywhere! Want to get out of a tight spot by sliding down that gentle, inviting-looking slope? Nope, sorry! No can do! Invisible wall is in effect, about as much as I've ever seen it (or not seen it, that is). Why is anyone's guess, maybe there's a good reason. I'll just say, I can understand taking the long way on a switch-back on the way _up_, but coming down, why not just slide? Seems like a minor point? It's gotten me ''killed'' several times.

Chizlalashallenge -- 10/10

Advance to nearest treeline. Get shot in head. Watch helplessly while the rest of Alpha gets wiped out. While reaching for F7 key, watch teams Bravo and Charlie get wiped out. Too late to quickload. Oh, well. Start over. Avoid nearest treeline. No Charlie team! I said AVOID the treeline! Arggh! Bravo, pull out! Okay, quickload while Alpha's still alive. All right guys, head to that farm over there. That looks pretty good. Except for the tank. Crap. Scratch Alpha and Bravo. F7. Let's try that treeline again. Recon. Hold. BOOM!
Alpha: Team member out of action!
Alpha: Team member out of action!
Alpha: Team member out of action!
What the heck? Ohhh...a grenade launcher. Those guards are touchy...

Fun Fizactor -- 8/10

I don't know why, but Ghost Recon is really fun. Despite numerous flaws and flat-out bugs, it's still pretty cool, and rather unique. The environments are reminiscent of Mechwarrior 4, except from a lower point of view, and they're utterly immersive. Too bad there's no way to play through as only one soldier, as I hear you do in Flashpoint and Swat 3. Maybe I'll check out one of those. So in retrospect, worth the fifty bucks? Yyyyyy...yeah. I guess so. But only if this sort of thing is your cup of tea. Be prepared for extreme challenge, fairly high frustration, and a constantly irritating command interface. But also be prepared for some of the most immersive scenarios ever. Oh! And genuinely stirring between-scenes music (forgot to mention it).

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/18/02, Updated 01/18/02

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