Review by roadkill

Reviewed: 02/03/03 | Updated: 02/03/03

Game of the year? Yeah, maybe for PC.

When I first heard of Ghost Recon hitting the Xbox, I was excited. I mean a game similar to the popular Socom: US Navy Seals combined with the graphical powerhouse that is the Xbox? It was like a dream come true. At last, I would be able to experience what millions of Socom fanatics have been babbling about. However, unlike Socom, Ghost Recon is entirely in the first person view, a fact that pleases me so much (being a fan of anything presented in a first person view).

Gameplay - 7
Right out of the box, this game controls like a dream. If you’ve ever played games like Halo or Unreal Championship, you know about what to expect. One thing that really irritates me though is when games use every single button on the Xbox controller with no option to completely customize your controls. And this game is one of them. Every button serves a purpose right down to the left and right analog click buttons. Also, even though the default control scheme is well planned out, the option of customizing your own controls would have been a plus.

One of the most frustrating modes in this game is the training mode. You must learn a lot to master this game and unfortunately, training is the only way to learn. One of the most annoying aspects is the amount of instructions offered. Step into a designated training area and you can quite literally be waiting 10 minutes before the whole lecture is over. Thank god it’s all spoken, if I had to read all the instructions myself, the game disc would be lying all the way across the room in hundreds of little plastic shards. If you do go through training, let me give you a word of advice. Don’t move out of the designated area (denoted by stripes on the ground). If you do and move back in, you have to start the lecture over again. Once complete with training, feel free to continue on with the mind-numbing campaign mode.

First off, the inevitable single player campaigns. Sadly, this is the major downfall of the game; at least it was for me. You are in charge of two teams, Alpha and Bravo team (you, being the head honcho, are on Alpha). Before the game starts, you get to pick your team, the weapons and the roles everyone plays such as sniper, medic and so on. But the part that really gets to me is that you have to move the Bravo team around manually via the in-game menu. Fumbling around the in-game menu just so I can get my backup to arrive just doesn’t qualify as fun in my book. Also, while your teammates AI is rather adequate, They do sometimes seem to encounter logic problems, such as how many of them can fit through the door at the same time. Honestly, it got so bad once I had to kill one of my teammates just to enter a room to rescue a hostage.

After the campaigns, you are awarded combat points which you can use to boost your soldiers stats such as their effectiveness with a weapon, endurance and stealth. It’s too bad you can’t boost IQ, perhaps that little incident I maintained above could have been avoided.

Where this game starts to be good as far as I’m concerned is the multiplayer. This is a bit like single player, but instead of frustrating yourself by having to manually move troops along, the second player (only up to two players per box) controls the other team. Also, during Gameplay you can change players within your team so in essence, each player has three lives.

The only real problem with multiplayer is that when both players are picking their team members, the game seems to freeze for a couple of seconds.

There are a host of multiplayer options that are sure to keep you and your friends interests peeked for at least an hour.

Co-op games
*Mission: Up to six people can play through the single player campaigns together.
*Firefight: Basically all you do is hunt enemies then mow them down.
*Recon: The goal is to reach the extraction point without any casualties.

Team games
*Last Man Standing: Team Deathmatch.
*Search and Rescue: Kind of like capture the flag, with hostages instead of flags.
*Hamburger Hill: It has nothing to do with hamburgers. I know, I was disappointed too. This game can be compared to king of the hill. Try to stand in the zone the longest uncontested and you win.
*Domination: No, it doesn’t involve leather suits. This game is kind of like hamburger hill, but with five zones instead of one.
*Siege: One team defends a base, the other teams goal is to infiltrate it.

Solo games
*Last Man Standing: Just like the team game but this one is every man for himself.
*Sharpshooter: Try to get the most kills.
*Hamburger Hill: Like the team game, but solo.
*Cat and Mouse: Frag Tag! Kill the person who’s “it” and you get a point.

Oh course, for the ultimate multiplayer experience, you must play it live. This is where the game becomes a must have for anyone that loves the stealthy shooter genre. Which leads me to asking myself why I got this game, I hate that genre. Anyhow, first, you find a game; pick your player and play. But be careful, this game emphasizes stealth. You only have one life to give to your country, use it wisely. Once you die, you must wait for all your teammates to either die or win the game.

Graphics - 9

Graphics are superb; even better then the PC version. When in rural environments, there is quite a bit of popup (scenery all of a sudden popping up in the distance) but looking at the large, detailed environment this game has to render, one can see why there’s popup.

However, urban environments don’t seem to suffer the same due to the small immediate environments. The urban environments are well designed, detailed and planned out. These levels generally seem to capture the look of war and present it well.

The one thing that gets me, and this isn’t really a graphical issue, is that the bushes and trees seem to have no sway to them. You can’t just walk through close to the edge of a bush or tree despite all logic. Also, another big problem I’ve come across is that if you have some minute elevation in the land such as a crack, your character won’t go over it unless there happens to be a ramp or stairs.

Sound - 10

Sound effects are authentic and accurate. I mean, I’ve never heard an M16 or bazooka in real life, but I do own a TV set and it sounds right dead on to me. Also, the sound of your teammates as the say “kill confirmed” or “goodbye” sound slightly static giving the impression it’s being broadcasted over a radio. And the sounds of bullets and grenades ricocheting off nearby objects really give you a sense or where you are in relation to the action.

There is no background music except for the environmental sounds surrounding you, which I guess makes sense. I mean, how many soldiers to you see going into combat with their Walkmans cranked up.

Replay - 7

It’s a good thing they put a multiplayer and online option into this game, or else it would be destined to sit on my shelf collecting dust. The multiplayer, as a said, is quite fun. But nothing can parallel the online experience. Fans of Socom will have no problem with this game. But, if you only have an Xbox and live, and you want to get a taste of what Socom players have experienced for months, I giving this game a shot.

Closing Comments

Don’t get it for the single player campaigns; you’ll be more then disappointed. Multiplayer is fun but the nothing beats the online experience.

Overall – 7

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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