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Ghost Recon

Developer: Red Storm Ent. | Publisher: Ubisoft
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 11/22/02 | Genre: Action

Ghost Recon on the PC was perhaps the best game of 2001, with its realistic battlefield techniques and intriguing story line. PC to console games does not always translate into great games. Most of the time the console version is a big disappointment. Is this game different? Read our review!

Ghost Recon features a very interesting storyline, which seems like a day after tomorrow scenario. The year is 2008 and ultra nationalists have taken control in Moscow, Russia. These ultra nationalists are bent on rebuilding the iron curtain by invading neighbors who used to be part of the Soviet Union. These countries in Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Georgia just to name a few. You play a team of US Special Forces named “The Ghostsâ€? (Green Berets) who are sent around the world to conduct peacekeeping missions. You are sent into Eastern Europe to prevent any further Russian aggression.

Ghost Recon features fifteen story driven missions along with eight additional levels from the Desert Siege expansion, which made an appearance on the PC. Not only that Ghost Recon also includes five boot camp levels, a variety of training scenarios and a multiplayer mode, which supports only two players. While Ghost Recon appears at first to be an impressive game with all its features, sadly the entire game suffers from a lack of imbalance. Since the Xbox version is online exclusive the Playstation 2 version has a few exclusive offline features in an attempt to satisfy the loud outcries of no online play.

The single player mode is robust, but the console versions have undergone numerous changes for the worst. At the beginning of a campaign mode the player has an active roster, which can change throughout the campaign mode due to deaths or injuries. Once a team player is killed the player is no long eligible to continue throughout the campaign mode. Different military medals are awarded based on performance throughout the campaign mode. Some medals include the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is awarded for bravery, and the Purple Heart, which is awarded for getting wounded or killed during a battle or mission. The most degrading new addition is the new and improved map for the console versions. The map shows the location of each enemy, which takes the big challenge out of the game. You may ask why look at the map at all? The important reason to look at the map is because the map has a bar, which shows you which direction to travel. If you spot an enemy on the map you can just line up yourself in accordance to the map and hit the enemy even if you can’t see him or if he is a few hundred yards away. Another big change is the new split from four teams on the PC version to two teams on the console version. UBI soft claims that it would be too difficult to control four teams so the games teams were split into two which are both known as “Alphaâ€? and “Bravoâ€?. Another addition, which really takes the fun out of the gameplay, is the ability to control what your teammates do. In a game like SOCOM you have the ability to issue orders to your team using a headset or a pop up menu. In Ghost Recon you really have little or no control over your bravo or alpha team. Another low point is the new auto-aim system, which was implemented for the console versions. The auto-aim can be sometimes easy to use when using a standard issue gun such as an assault rifle but the auto-aim can be frustrating when controlling a soldier who is a sixty gunner. One feature that was ported over to the PC is the ability to cycle between your teammates using the d-pad. Cycling through your team does not only include your alpha team, but your bravo team as well.

Ghost Recon also includes a couple different types of multiplayer modes, which include cooperative and survival (deathmatch). One good noticeable feature in Ghost Recon’s multiplayer mode is that any level beaten on the single player mode is playable using the cooperative mode. It seems the Playstation 2 versions multiplayer mode was toned down from the Xbox’s offline multiplayer mode. The Xbox version allowed players to play cooperative using two players along with each player being a commander of a platoon. In the Playstation 2 version there is no fire team to speak of at all. The survival or deathmatch mode on the Xbox was playable using a fire team as well while the Playstation 2 version has no fire team at all in any multiplayer modes. One weird of cheap addition in the coop mode is the ability to re spawn. The user has the option to change the number of re spawn times. The max number is thirty. So if you are playing coop with a friend and you die you can instantly die twenty-nine more times in the level and re spawn in attempt to complete the level in one try. Luckily the option is customizable so it can be turned off. Some levels don’t tend to have enough enemy forces for two players to have fun playing together.

Ghost Recon strives to attract gamers by providing a section of special features which range from game trailers to movies and interviews. The special features section is quite large and different features can be unlocked by playing more of the game. Some maybe interested by this addition which also includes drawing of characters and music from different levels while others may think of it as a gimmick to attract gamers away from SOCOM. Compared to SOCOM, Ghost Recon is more of a slow paced game which requires more tactics than anything while SOCOM seems to be an arcade when compared to Ghost Recon.

The graphics on the Playstation 2 version are surprisingly as good or even better as the PC version. One noticeable problem with Ghost Recon on the Xbox was the frame rate. The frame rate would take noticeable hits when a large explosion occurred. Thankfully the Playstation 2 version doesn’t come close to suffering from these problems. While the frame rate is solid in the single player modes the multiplayer modes tend to be a different story. The frame rate in the multiplayer modes seemed to be toned down a touch but thankfully the game is still playable. The outdoor environments look good for the most part and the game has a good number of foliage used but Ghost Recon only really looks good when compared to other versions of Ghost Recon. When compared to a game like SOCOM, Ghost Recon doesn’t compare well as its graphics lack the polish that the graphics of SOCOM had. The attention to detail in SOCOM was done much better and the frame rate in the multiplayer game of SOCOM was much better. The loading times especially at the beginning of the game are horrendous. The cut scenes look absolutely beautiful and a lot better than SOCOM’s but sadly that can’t be said for the in game graphics.

One good point to make about Ghost Recon is its musical score. The game’s music is done incredibly well not only throughout the missions but throughout the presentation as well. There is some interaction between you and your teammates but each time after killing an enemy an annoying voice will be heard over and over again using the same phrase. One weak area for the sound is the weapon sounds. They really don’t seem authentic and don’t sound like their real life counter parts.

With a large section of unlock able special features and a robust single player experience Ghost Recon sounds like a game with a large amount of replay value but a poorly executed single player mode and a multiplayer mode may only bring back the die hard Tom Clancy fans. The lack of online adds insult to injury as well.

Those looking for a brake from SOCOM will sadly be disappointed by what this game has to offer with a simply laid out list of options which simplify the game to a point where its no fun at all. Those curious about this title should first rent before making any big move after this game. I highly recommend picking up SOCOM or if you already have it, stick with SOCOM and hoping for something better.

By Siddharth Masand - 04/20/03
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Violence
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Screenshots for Ghost Recon

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