Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon is another fine addition to the ever-growing franchise of realistic action shooters. Despite gameplay being set up in single episodes, the story is intriguing and features nicely detailed mission briefings. The information needed is presented in a simple text box rather than seven separate dossiers and reports, with a map displaying key points.
Squad selection requires choosing six characters from four main classes: riflemen, snipers, support, and demolitions. If you complete a mission's extra objectives, you sometimes are treated to a specialist with above average abilities and translation skills, who is better than the regular contingent. You can also improve marksmanship, stealth, endurance, and leadership abilities of your own basic soldiers by spending combat points earned.
Each mission requires a different type of approach, which makes proper squad selection critical. You may need demolition gear to blow something up, or high-powered rifles to take down enemies from a distance. A huge arsenal of weaponry offers sufficient firepower for any eventuality or situation. The single-player game offers 15 missions, but not all are simple shoot and run affairs. Just some examples include investigation of a crashed helicopter in crowded city streets to save the pilots (shades of Blackhawk Down), blowing up a bridge in an enemy occupied valley, or going on raids.
The stunning atmospheres include marshes and fields, falling rain, and shadows appearing as you approach target points. Snipers take out patrols from a distance, trees or weeds offer cover, and sights and sounds draw you in as the mission intensity increases. Exploration takes you to environments like a forest-covered valley, fields, a bombed-out village, and even the grandeur of Red Square, just to name a few.
Sound is important as audio clues let you know where the enemy is hiding or where a bomb may land. Thunder rolls just before rain breaks out, jets make you almost want to duck and cover as they scream overhead, and weapon effects and impacts are extremely realistic. Footsteps have weight and differ on ground or cement. Bullet impacts are distinctive when hitting a person as opposed to a wall; you can even hear near misses as they zip past your ears. The music soundtrack is best turned down to allow full access to other ambient sounds.
The enemy AI is a mix of amazingly smart and fairly dense. If you don't pay attention, enemies can sneak up behind you or even out flank you, leaving you pinned down in a hail of gunfire. Reactions are life-like; if you kill one enemy with sniper fire, his buddy will sound the alarm. Conversely, you might throw a grenade at a certain spot and nearby enemies may take no notice of you or the destruction going on. At the least, though, enemies are mobile and will show up almost anywhere at anytime -- just like in real-life.
A threat indicator helps you find enemies you can't get a visual lock on, and a separate set of signals warns you of incoming enemy fire or when you're within 40 meters of an enemy. It's best to take the help with a grain of salt, though, as you could be standing under a 300-foot bridge when your indicator and warning noises go off, leaving you a bit panicked and dumbfounded.
Your own team seems a bit denser than does the enemy AI. If you hide behind cover and don't tell your troops to follow, they'll just stand there looking pretty and could possibly alert the enemy to your presence. Also, if you drop to the ground and keep moving, your men may hit the floor but stay in place until you order them forward. Despite their slow pickup on the situation, though, they certainly know how to cover you in a firefight! The only orders you can give here are "hold" or "advance" but it doesn't matter, as they're pros and know their business.
Killing all the enemies can end a mission but completing bonus objectives gives you access to the specialists. At times you'll need to leave a few guys standing and take care of the extra objectives if you want to hype up your team. Skill points and medals for all characters are awarded for successful completion of missions.
Multiplayer modes are standard shooter fare and include classics like king of the hill, death match, and last man standing. Online play adds a whole new depth to the game and extends game life. The Tom Clancy line of games has built a great tradition of intense gameplay, and Ghost Recon adds to the library of must-have shooters.
Graphics: The realistic environments play a large part in the game, offering cover and advantages when engaging the enemy.
Sound: Bullets sound real, ambient environmental sounds of rain, thunder and wind create true to life conditions, and commands have authority. The music, though good, can intrude on the ambient sounds and is best turned off to get the full effect of your surroundings.
Enjoyment: Fifteen intense and varied missions offer a wide range of action and excitement, though squads need coaxing at times to follow your lead. Environment is immersive and gameplay is fluid.
Replay Value: Other than multiplayer options, the missions don't change. Once completed, most gamers will want to move on to the next shooter du jour.
People who downloaded Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon have also downloaded:
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Island Thunder, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Desert Siege, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Lockdown, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas
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