It seems people just can't get enough of good old Tom Clancy with Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow in development and Rainbow Six: Raven Shield heading to Microsoft's Big Black Box, we've already seen the first outing of the much-acclaimed Ghost Recon as well.
So this brings me to my new review: Ghost Recon: Island Thunder, yet another dive into the murky world of the Counter Terrorist Operatives known as the Ghosts.
The year is 2009 and Castro is dead. The first free elections of this new era are suddenly broken by the shadow of a vicious warlord backed by the usual drug-funded baddies. As part of a UN peacekeeping force the Ghosts are sent in to mop this mess up and put the mercenaries in their places.
This sets the stage for the additional 'Stand Alone' game bringing to the battlefield 8 new singleplayer maps across the Island of Cuba.
Ghost Recon for those of you who don't know much about the series is basically a squad shooter, where your wits and tactical planning are often better weapons than a gun. It features one-shot kills and if you're lucky you can take a couple of hits before your operative is down and out. The perspective is from the Ghost Ops eyes and there's no gun overlaid onto the screen. You get a crosshair and a simple HUD that shows you where the enemy might be.
You can issue orders to your team and the usual kinds of orders are there, advance, hold position and the like. A few clicks of the buttons and you can plan a route for Alpha and Bravo squads - swapping between soldiers, as you like. It's just the same in Island Thunder as it is in Ghost Recon albeit with a tighter feel to the controls and a better tweaked AI on your Operatives side.
For those of you who really want to know more about the previous title, here's a link to it:
As I said before IT is an expansion to the original game and brings with it new SP maps and MP additions. However it seems to me that just 8 maps for SP is more of a tacked on cookie for those of us who don't have LIVE or aren't that fussed about it. I was able to get the game onto a LIVE enabled Box though and I can see the real meat and potatoes of this expansion is designed for just that.
While we're offered the tantalising rumour that we shall be having at least a few more SP maps to download, it really doesn't help those who don't own LIVE and have no intention of doing so. I'd like to at least see some provision for those people who aren't LIVE enabled to get hold of these cookies via perhaps an upgrade disc or as part of a deal with a magazine.
What you get with the new SP maps though is pretty ok, the new missions are good and the mapping for the sequel is significantly better than the first game. The graphics and the gameplay remain true to form and don't need to be addressed, since they haven't really been overly tweaked.
There are new kits and the new weapons for MP such as the M4 SOCOM and the MM1-automatic grenade launcher make MP the game of choice for many people. GR and IT have hardcore fans that love the game and play on LIVE as much as they can, which is a testament to the design of the MP game and its features. Co-op is back and all the missions can be played with friends, in a variety of modes from the original as well as the Defend the Base mode that is available from the start.
Cat and Mouse: Everyone's a cat and the first person to kill someone else becomes a mouse, now he has only a pistol. The mouse gets points for kills and whoever kills that mouse becomes the mouse.
Sharpshooter: The person who has the most kills wins the game.
Siege: Get a team member inside the enemy base for five seconds, team wins.
Plus the Last Man Standing, Hamburger Hill (Have a team with only member in a designated area and get points for every second you stay alive or keep inside) Domination, as the previous gametype but with five zones.
With the amount of modes, customizable kits and equipment in the game - Sixteen player battles, Ghost Recon: Island Thunder builds on the original and offers a much more rounded experience especially if you're on LIVE. I'd recommend getting this game if you don't own the previous and you like the kind of game it is. If you're on LIVE and you have GR then you owe it to yourself to get this expansion and because it's stand alone, you don't have to worry about upgrading your original.
All in all it adds some nice new MP things, but not much in the way of SP to keep the lone wolf gamer entertained with only eight missions.