Review by slutboyfame

"Barbecue? Required to roast geek on..."

Ghost Recon is concerned with the antics of a group of special forces soldiers, noted for their 'stealthy' methods, hence their 'ghost' moniker. slutboyfame must confess that this aspect of the game has largely escaped him, as his squad always rushes in, guns blazing - making a nonsense of the game's title. Very little reconnaissance has been undertaken when playing this game, either - but this counts in its' favour, making for a more enjoyable, immediate experience.

In essence, you control an array of differently-equipped soldiers, and are given a variety of missions. Some take the form of targeted killings, others require you to 'blow stuff up good' whereas careless fools (pity them) show up from time to time, needing rescue (all the usual bases covered, then). The game works a little like Operation Flashpoint meets the 'A-team' - the former game's real-life grime, weapons and setting connects with the latter's 'thousands of bullets miss our heroes' dynamic, which slightly pervades even the hardest setting.

slutboyfame must confess a little unease at this, as although the game feels less restrictive than Flashpoint's 'one shot kills' (mission ends) play, it also loses some of the excitement expressed by tension, apprehension and shocks, too. This also means that you lose some of the connection you might have with your 'team', as they become 'extra lives', anonymous cannon fodder, although more heavily decorated than in Flashpoint.

]=======Gfx & Sound=======[
The graphical environments are impressive enough, though there are some visual artifacts which remain slightly annoying. For example, the clipping of various rocks, trees etc. when you approach, smudging the illusion of otherwise well-constructed worlds. The sunshine and shadow effects do add an almost naturalistic sheen to the game, however, and go - in some way - to recompense. The effect when a round hits your soldier is brilliantly realised, although its' approximation to reality is somewhat questionable.

Some of the most inspirational ideas contained in the game are the simplest - the swaying trees, especially. It would be better, still, if the occasional, random, wind vortices were to shake the trees' branches. These effects are still well appreciated, however, showing the concern the developer has with conveying a convincing world to the player.

Sound effects are adequately achieved, although the Doppler shifts for standard weapon fire seem tacked-on, as they happen at even 20ft away. This is not something that will greatly trouble many MoleStation owners, I expect. I found the 'Hoo-yah'-style American jingoisms of your troops, when they kill, is jarring. You're supposed to be in an 'elite' force - this has, perhaps, a different meaning in the US, to the UK. The music is somewhat more stirring, in a generic 'Hollywood action score' style - it is a shame that the composer has not realised the effectiveness of silent dread, and a minimalist score, slowly overtaking a player. I would commend Bill Brown to watch some of the masterpieces created by Akira Kurosawa, especially Rashomon, as a demonstration of allowing your imagination, rather than your music, to run riot in a jungle.

The game stumbles slightly in the control you have over your soldiers. sbf is too familiar, perhaps spoiled, by the degree of control offered in Perfect Dark, Goldeneye, Timesplitters 2 and Deus Ex, amongst others. The sad case with GR's analogue 'look' is that the acceleration, as you move between 'half' and 'full' turn is too great. If you turn 'full-lock', your soldier turns too rapidly for anyone other than a ballerina to deal with. You are left with setting the speed to a more ponderous setting, to negate this, meaning slight turns take an eternity. If you are well used to 'opposite sidestepping' to increase your turn-rate, while evading, this makes the game still more difficult to adjust to.

Another mild annoyance is the awkwardness in aiming while being prone, and motionless, as you're only allowed to swivel through 180°. This can be negated by moving your soldier as you turn, but when you stop moving, you can sometimes be 'stuck', unable to rotate further in one direction. This is easily overlooked if you spend your time 'ghosting', but not if you're more gung-ho, and get caught in the heat of battle. I hope this unnecessary 'feature' is taken out, should a sequel ever emerge.

Another facet worthy of minor criticism is the ease in accidentally stepping out of cover. This is because of the hideously irritating use of L3 to enable 'peek left/right'. Each of these problems could be easily fixed, in the last case simply by switching the functions of L3 & R3. As I've mentioned previously, though, it becomes too easy to ignore any stealth aspects, as they're needlessly difficult to pull off consistently. You end up relying on well-honed reactions to spank the AI, which is a shame, as it might be more of a challenge if you could rely more on your wits, and on the controls.

Although I've concentrated mainly on some of the negative aspects of the game, the fact remains that it is still a great deal of fun to play. Once you forget that you're not in a real-life war sim, you can appreciate that the game falls neatly between Goldeneye and Flashpoint, the furious side-stepping of the former, meets the warzones of the latter. Although it doesn't reach the heights of either game, and is far too easy, it retains its' own unique charm. In conclusion, a well above average, occasionally beautiful addition to an oversubscribed genre. It is probably unique on the PS2 in offering a good squad-based, single-player intelligence system, great graphics, and a solidly-constructed series of missions. Although sbf would have liked to have seen levels endowed with the breadth of vision of Flashpoint, this is a little unrealistic, if they are contained within the humble PS2.

Graphics 8/10
Sound 6/10
Playability 7/10
Longevity 7/10
Overall 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/29/03, Updated 01/29/03

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