Many of you will be aware of Tom Clancy's other game that has recently been released. Yes, I'm talking about Splinter Cell. You will have seen the adverts, listened to the hype, read Wolfs review, and possibly played the game. Obviously all of this has taken some of the attention away from Ghost Recon.
Ghost Recon takes place in the near future where Russia again is proving to be a bit of a handful for the western world. Due to the political unrest an elite group of soldiers are sent in to the territory to perform a number of missions, these elite forces are known as the ghosts.
The game is a first person squad based shooter. You control two fire teams each consisting of three men. You control any one of these six men and you can switch during play. You can set waypoints for yourself and your fireteams, though your fireteam will always follow you should you veer off the path. This gives the game a very dynamic feel, because if you come under fire you will be able to move your team to a strategic location while your other fireteam lays down covering fire.
You can handpick your squad from a selection before each mission, and upon completing your mission you will be awarded skill points to assign to your characters attributes. The classes of soldier are Rifleman, Sniper, Support and Demolitions, so a squad can be constructed to suit your own playing style. If players die then they are lost and injured players will have to sit the next mission out. Each mission also has an optional objective such as protect the allied tanks, or minimize civilian casualties. If you satisfy this extra objective you will unlock a special character. These special characters will generally have high attributes and will also have special weaponry, for example a demolitions specialist may have extra ammunition for his anti-tank weaponry which will be a great help on later missions.
There are a wide range of missions in the game, such as escort, rescue, assault and demolition missions. Each mission has a very different feel and there are several ways to complete each mission. The game physics are very realistic and so is the games range of weaponry. Your characters can be killed with a single well placed shot. You will have to plan your missions very carefully, as running in to the game will just get you killed. I often found myself relying on my fireteams A.I to dispatch the various enemies for me. While I attempted to move to a more strategic location. Fortunately the A.I. in the game is close to perfection, and you'll rarely criticize your men for taking the wrong action. The only issue I have found with the AI is that your characters will occasionally get trapped in buildings. Unfortunately the game can be completed by a hardcore gamer over the course of a weekend, and there is little to bring you back to the campaign to try it again.
Graphically the game does very well. The graphics are precise and fit the mood of each mission. Your men are highly detailed and the animations have obviously received a lot of attention. The only issue graphically is that explosions can be a bit dull and when you fire some of the explosive weapons you may find the game and framerate stutter slightly. Also some of the scenery could have done with a little polygon boost.
The sound is where the game really shines. I'm fortunate to have a full Dolby 5.1 System and so I can generally hear the direction that gunshots are coming from. The sound is atmospheric throughout and there is no in game music. There are some very subtle touches in the game that really add to the ambience, such as the wind getting stronger the further up a hill you get. Also if there is an explosion near your character you will find that you characters ears ring, distorting the sounds all around you.
The games multiplayer mode is one of the best parts of the game. Although I haven't had chance to try out the games Xbox Live feature, I have tried system link. In fact I've spent many hours using the system link feature. Using the system link you can play any of the games missions and also a wide range of other multiplayer modes, such as firefight, king of the hill and other such games. There are also associated problems with the multiplayer games. You can't use your characters from the single player campaign. You can't customize your team when selecting AI support. System link doesn't seem to allow you to play split screen. These are just small niggles but if they had been addressed multiplayer games could have been far more fun.
The game is very slow paced, and for those of you who prefer games like Timesplitters, Unreal and Quake the game might not be at home with the game, whereas Rainbow 6, and Hitman fans will probably adjust and enjoy the game more.
Overall the game is a great strategy squad based shooter, and should provide plenty of atmosphere, satisfaction and fun for anyone with an Xbox, though those who can take advantage of the system link facility will benefit the most.