Ghost in Microsoft’s machine. Review

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 1 - 32

Publisher

  • Aspyr Media
  • Ubi Soft

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now

Platform

  • Mac
  • Xbox

rating

Ghost in Microsoft’s machine.

I’ve heard it said that the Xbox pumps out too many PC ports. Is this true?

Maybe, but as long as it can make me shout out loud, talk to walls and carry

on lengthy and extremely anal-retentive “gaming” conversations in public, I

could care less from where it originated.

Ubi Soft’s Tom Clancy-approved port of the PC hit Ghost Recon fits this

bill to a tee. It’s surely not for those who only want to run and gun, but aside

from a few hang-ups, it works nicely on the Xbox. Plus, it had me screaming

at the cats to circumnavigate the broadband cable I had pulled taut across two

rooms just to enjoy the game’s rich online multiplayer modes via Xbox Live.

It’s an experience worth the hassle.

Ghost Recon is a squad-based first-person shooter relying heavily on

tactics and strategy. It takes a realistic approach to war rather than focusing

on blazing guns and the one-man army mantra of most FPS titles like Serious

Sam
or Halo.

Clancy definitely has some issues about communism, China and the former Soviet

Union. Like the excellent Splinter Cell and

other Clancy titles, Ghost Recon is set in the near future – 2008. The

player is thrust into a war to eventually overthrow the current nationalist

ruling party, which has usurped control in Moscow and declared war on all the

little former Soviet nations. Can you say “Regime Change,” boys and girls? The

story is not that involving, but serves as an adequate plot catalyst.

The single-player game is a healthy 15 missions long, tied together with audio

and text briefings. Once you have been informed on mission parameters and such,

it’s off to the load-out interface. Here you can fully customize your two squads

of three with munitions and soldiers that best fit the objectives. For example,

equip heavy ballistics to deal with tanks and use snipers for dug-in, hard to

see long-range threats. This gives the game some strategic flair.

Points are awarded after each mission for your effectiveness in the field,

which can be used to build up four different character skills for your charges.

You can enhance their skill in weapons, strength, leadership, and sneakiness.

This is cool, but will quickly have you jumping in the shoes of more enhanced

soldiers to make sure they carry out your orders perfectly. If an upgraded soldier

dies, all his newly awarded skills are gone as well.

Ghost Recon is a very slowed-paced game requiring thought and planning,

as the mission structure absolutely demands it. You are almost always outnumbered

and the game environment provides great cover for the enemy to stay hidden from

us Yankees.

With the press of a button, you can pull up a map that easily permits you

to place waypoints or markers for your soldiers. The interface is simple and

comprehensive, yet I prefer the headset and audio commands you can use in SOCOM:

Navy Seals.

But the game’s lack of knuckle-whitening action is made up for by its incredible

sense of immersion and tension. Ambient sounds like wind, birds overhead, gunfire,

approaching vehicles, bullets ricocheting off various surfaces and so much more

will have you playing the game scrunched down with raised shoulders like you

could catch a bullet in the spine if you sat straight-backed and erect. This

is accentuated by the fact that you can rarely tell where the shots are coming

from, and it only take one ore two to put you down for good. Realism, baby!

The AI is fairly lifelike as well. Your squad members will provide cover and

return fire when shot at. Enemies do a good job of staying hidden and work well

in groups. The AI isn’t flawless, but for a squad-based game it’s commendable.

Most of the levels take place primarily outdoors and for the most part this is handled well. However, once you and your squad of crack troops enter a building, path-finding problems abound. They seem to be able to navigate or negotiate obstacles fine…eventually. But often when you’re pulling up the rear, you won’t want to wait for them to grasp the metaphysical complexities of a flight of stairs. Yet you will have to, unless you take control of the soldier running point. It’s pretty annoying.

However,

the environments are textured decently with nice attention to detail. Trees

even sway in the wind. It’s not nearly on par with Xbox’s resident benchmark

Halo, but the graphics compliment the ambient sounds and add to the tension

and suspense. Character models look good and the animation is fluid, making

for an aesthetically pleasing jaunt.

Ghost Recon‘s strong single-player campaign is paired with an even

beefier online multiplayer game by way of Xbox Live! Up to 32 players can enjoy

cooperative campaigns with other human players working toward a common goal

and pitted against crafty NPCs. Although you won’t find a server with more than

about 10 players per side due to server instability (which will hopefully be

addressed by Ubi Soft in the future), it’s still good fun.

The game types include cooperative Missions (from the single-player game),

Firefight and Recon, which challenges players to cut a swath through NPCs in

a particular area and come out alive. There are a ton of Team-based play modes

like Last Man Standing, Search and Rescue, Hamburger Hill (King of the Hill),

Domination and Siege. This is probably where the bulk of your Xbox-Live! gameplay

will be spent.

But there’s even more here. Solo games include the ubiquitous Deathmatch,

Last Man Standing, King of the Hill and the unique Cat & Mouse mode where there

is one “mouse,” equipped with only a pistol, who must hold his own for as long

as he can against the horde of “cats.” It’s interesting, but the Team-based

games are more rewarding. Plus, nearly all these game modes can be played split-screen

or linked, albeit with a fewer number of players.

Still, multiplayer has its own compliment of set backs. There is no Spectator

or ghost fly-through mode. If you die, you’re left with the camera fixed on

the ground where you bought it. This makes learning maps an arduous task and

makes a slow-paced game even slower.

But the multiplayer adds self-perpetuating replay value, and at the end of

the day, Ghost Recon takes advantage of Xbox Live! splendidly. Its unwavering

adherence to tactical gameplay will exclude a number of quick twitch gamers,

but for those with a little patience, this is a solid, engrossing port.







REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

4
Rating
Good port
Strong single-player
Even stronger multiplayer
Slow pacing can be annoying
Pathfinding issues