Review by call me peppi

Reviewed: 05/19/03 | Updated: 05/19/03

Not The Best, But Still Pretty Damn Good Anyway.

Yet another Tom Clancy game to hit the shelves of the gaming world, Ghost Recon attempts to incorporate strategy, stealth, role-playing and action all into one. While it is successful at most of these, it also fails at others.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon is set in the year 2008. A world crisis is unfolding in Russia, with the return of Communism to power. You are in charge of an elite squad of six men (The Ghosts), divided into two teams: Alpha and Bravo. There are a total of 26 missions to embark on, including the special Desert Siege missions. Before each mission you can change the members of your squad and provide them with weapon kits, depending on which type of soldier they are: Rifleman, Support, Demolitions or Sniper. Each soldier has his/her own set of skills, including Stealth, Weapons, Endurance and Leadership. Every time a soldier survives a mission, they gain an Experience point, which can then be assigned to one of these skills. Mission objectives will often influence your decision on what type of soldier will be going on a mission. Soldiers can also be awarded medals when they perform certain actions, such as bravery under fire, twenty kills, wounded in action, etc. Most missions have an optional objective, which if you complete, will unlock a specialist and new weapons. During the game you play as any member of your team, so if one dies, you're still in the game. This feature was probably implemented due to the fact that it is very easy to die in this game. You travel through Russia and into North Africa, performing various tasks like blowing up bridges, taking out artillery, securing airfields, rescuing POWs and, of course, storming enemy bases. The game features an incredible two-player mode, where you can fight against one another, join forces to eliminate all the enemies, or actually play out the single player game together.

Graphics: 6/10
Ghost Recon's graphics aren't visually stunning, but most of the game's missions take place in large, open expanses of land, that generally impress. There is a great amount of environmental detail - grass, tall trees that sway with the wind, falling leaves and so on. The game also has nice looking puddles (ahh, those puddles), with perfectly rendered reflections. Apart from the environments, the vehicles in the game look good as well, especially the tanks. The game also features weather effects such as rain, snow and fog, however, the rain and snow are really thin and don't turn out too well during the game. The character detail isn't very high, as well. They seem to turn into badly animated Nintendo sprites at a distance, making sniping a more difficult task than it should be. The environment, though good-looking, isn't very interactive, and all though that doesn't change the game too much, it does set back its realism. Put it this way - if you shoot an orange road cone, it should fall over, right? Not in 2008, obviously. The game doesn't cater for many bullet holes, either. You could make about 16, before they begin to disappear. To put it simply, the graphics could have been better.

Sound: 8/10
Nicely done is all that needs to be said. The game's sound effects are all nicely put into play. Gunshots, ambient sounds, soldier's speech (though in Russian and African), and especially the vehicle noises are perfect. The game also has some nice musical scores, which are only played on the menu screen, but can be accessed in the options. During missions, the game relies on short bursts of sound, which last no more than twenty seconds, and only start up when your creeping around enemies or you're in the middle of a gunfight. These bursts are designed to heighten your playing senses, which they do rather well. The only things wrong with the sound is the weak explosions and the disappointing noise when a bullet hits a wall, which sounds more like a pencil dropping onto glass. Despite that last comment, the sound is terrific overall, and plays a large part in this game.

Gameplay: 7/10
Gameplay isn't Ghost Recon's best suite. While there are no major problems, the game is just a bit too complicated to begin with, and can take a while to get into the full swing of things. It does offer a training mission, but that doesn't do terribly much to help. Though this game does try to implement strategy, most of the time the best option is to just run in on full attack. Once you get the hang of ordering two teams around a combat situation, however, the game becomes much more fun. You can control your other team by bringing up a game map, where you can set waypoints and tell the other team where to focus their firepower. You can also tell them to go somewhere simply by pushing the R3 button, and the other team will rush to the centre of your screen. You can also give your teams stances like Advance, Advance At All Costs, Hold Position, then you can give them separate fire orders like Hold Fire, Suppress and Recon. The only problem is that these seem to change without your permission every now and again and often cause casualties. The ability to upgrade your men is also a nice touch: unfortunately, you don't really feel the effects of the upgrades that much during missions. Certainly, you can feel the difference between one point and full points, but you won't get to upgrade the men that much anyway. The menus are clear and easy to read, but it can be a little difficult to navigate through the player/team setup screens when you begin.

Story: 5/10
Eh? Story? Oh yes. What else would you expect from a game like this? Oh it's fun to play of course, but there isn’t much of a story here. Basically, you have to stop the Communists from seizing control of all Russia's neighbouring countries and restoring Mother Russia. You do these by embarking on a series of missions through plains, forests, swamps and cities. After you set them straight, you then have to deal with arms smugglers in Africa you made it big selling weapons to Russia during the disturbances. Set one year after the Russia campaign, you have to go through eight desert missions in an attempt to control and capture them. A decisively average story, but I wasn't expecting anything more.

Overall: 8/10
A very good game, which still manages to shine, even without boasting incredible graphics or an intriguing storyline. Probably the best feature being the two player mode, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon mixes together strategy stealth and all out action and provides you with a playable game with which to carry them out. If you don't mind using your brain a little, but not too much, when playing your PS2, get this game as soon as you can. But if you’re just into shoot-em-ups for fast paced action and gunplay, avoid this at all costs. Final score - 8/10.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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