"A solid, but not perfect tactical shooter"

Ghost Recon originally came out to PC in 2001, with higher than average reviews and largely equal fanbase. In 2002, UBI SOFT decided to go ahead and port this PC game to the XBOX. Because of this, many of the problems that were in the PC version still translated over to the XBOX, but the game's many strengths helped overshadowed the flaws.

Ghost Recon at its heart is a realistic tactical shooter. Yes, it is a first person shooter, but plays out much differently than other fps's, like Halo or Half Life. You take control of two squads in Ghost Recon, Alpha Team, and Bravo Team. Each team has a total of three soldiers in them, having the total of six men on the battlefield in every mission. You control the leader of Alpha Team, but can switch between the six characters whenever you want, just by pressing the Y button. Now, there are four character classes in the game; Rifleman, Support, Sniper, and Demolition. Each class is different, not just by what their distinguished name is. A rifleman is very accurate with assault rifles, supports are good for up close combat, sniper is perfect for long range, and demolitions are needed for some mission objectives that require blowing stuff up.

Before every mission, you listen to a mission briefing detailing your mission objectives and the reasoning behind them. Then you pick the team members you want on each of the squads, then outfit them with neccessary equipment and then start the mission. If applicable, characters gain points from missions that can be used to improve four skills: weapon, stealth, leadership and endurance skills. This in turn allows you to improve characters if you use them over and over in missions and keep them alive. You can set the point system to auto or manual to have either the game assign the points or you assign them. Assinging points can be done in the briefing screen before every mission.

Each mission has four objectives that you can accomplish. Two of them must always be accomplished to succeed, the third objective to go to the extraction point differs, and the fourth objective can be completed to unlock a secret character. The reason I said that the third objective differs is because in Recruit and Veteran modes, if you kill every enemy soldier, having to go to the extraction point is uneccessary as the game automatically ends the mission in success. Every mission though plays out particularly different, and require careful planning, which is one of the strong points in Ghost Recon.

During a mission you can command a team to move to a certain location, which allows you to tell Bravo Team for instance to go north as you head to the east, to flank the enemies. Since the level design is varied to a certain degree in every mission, using strategy is essential if you wish to keep all you team members alive. The team A.I. is very good, but do run into some rough spots sometimes, but overall perform well. The enemy A.I. is decent, but could use some work in trying to take cover whenever you try and shoot at them. Though, sometimes enemies do take formations and try to ambush you, which is something that is exciting to see.

The sound in Ghost Recon is awesome. If you have 5.1 Dolby Digital, the game sounds realistic, the wind, rain, footsteps, water, everything sounds like their real life counterpart. Before and after the mission there is a pulse pounding tune that always gets my blood pounding, and keeps you motiviated to play. Gunshots also sound realistic, and you'll find yourself actually ducking as you play because of the sound of bullets whizzing past you. Sound is very, very well done in this game.

There are though some flawst that keep this game from being compeltley perfect. One, UBI SOFT could've tried and sharpen the graphics, the enviroments in particular. The character models look sharp and animate well, but most of the enviroments have very blurry textures and very small detail. The game looks exactly what it is, a one year old PC game, but it still could've taken advantage of the XBOX's capabilities. Another flaw is a slightly cumbersome interface. At first you'll fight your controller to try and understand how to control the game. As you play more and more, you'll get used to it, but that still doesn't mean there isn't flaws in it. For one, to issue commands to a different team, you have to go to another screen entirley and issue it. This in turn gets annoying after the first couple missions, and sometimes kills the pacing. Also, for a first person shooter, you can't even see the gun your carrying. All you see is a reticle, which isn't too bad, but the game would've looked better if you can see the gun your carrying.

The storyline is what you'd come to expect in a Tom Clancy game, which isn't bad, but after playing through Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell, the simliar backdrops are becoming boring. The storyline does get the job done, but isn't why you'll keep playing.

The multiplayer and secrets though will keep you coming back for more, and help extend replay value. Since there are no scoreboards in Ghost Recon's online multiplayer, you'll be able to play worry free of ruining your stats. You can engage with other people in co-op mode, firefight or defend. Each of these game modes gives exciting fast and furious gameplay, that will keep you hooked. Also added is a offline co-op and multiplayer, if you want to play with a friend.

Overall, Ghost Recon is a very good game. But, given the opputinity, UBI SOFT could've made Ghost Recon for XBOX even better. The game will probably take you 10-15 hours to beat for the campaign, but there are a lot of secrets to find and XBOX Live will keep you coming back. If you aren't sure of tactical shooters, at least rent Ghost Recon first. If your a fan of Tom Clancy or realistic shooters, definiltey purchase the game. Ghost Recon is solid, but not a perfect tactical shooter.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/07/05

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