reviews\ Dec 19, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon - PS2 - Review

The built-in radar shows the enemy at 12 o’clock and close. There is a hillock between you and them, and is seems likely they are on the other side. Using the cover of trees to inch forward, you slowly work to the top of the hill, and spy the head of one of them

The minute you fire, the other members of the party are likely to seek shelter, so it’s best to have a firm command of the kill zone. Other members of your party move into position. Then someone cuts loose a round. The reticule on your rifle glows red, and you caress the trigger. Bam! "Confirmed kill" crackles across the radio.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, an Ubi Soft and Red Storm Entertainment release for the PlayStation2, is a solid looking shooter game sparkling with challenge. The idea is not so much to see how much blood spurts from your targets, but to use tactical warfare to wipe out the opposition and accomplish the mission goals.

However a ponderous interface can sap the joy right out of the game. Taking command of your squad is laborious and the control setup takes time to understand and get comfortable with.

The year is 2008 and there are elements bent on re-establishing the Soviet Union (this is an old Clancy plot replayed throughout several games). Because of that, there are rebel forces pounding the splintered nations, and plunging Eastern Europe into a war zone. The United States has yet to formally enter the fray, though there are elite U.S. forces working in the area. One such unit of specially trained Green Berets is known as the Ghosts. They get in silently, kill indiscriminately, and melt away ­ hopefully before anyone knows they’ve been there. Failure is not an option in this game.

The battle zones are open areas or ravaged towns. Targets include people and artillery units.

For example, in the first mission, your job is to outfit your team, then go into the field in South Ossetian, in Georgia (the European nation), to raid a rebel base. You must capture the commander of the group, a man known as Papashvilli, who is surrounded with his forces and camped out in a cave system. Secure the caves, wipe out his entourage and snag the bad guy. Sounds simple, but it is anything but.

The game sports 15 missions, a host of weapons and even bonus assignments, which you can unlock. There is a multiplayer element that can allow two players to hunt each other.

That is all the upside. The downside is that the game controls are not very well explained, even in the tutorial. For example, you begin the tutorial and get to a wall. The voice-over tells you to look around corners using the left or right peek button. What are they? No mention of that. Thumbing through the manual fails to reveal what those buttons are, though there is a reference to peeking and using the left or right peek buttons.

Controlling your fire team is also a chore. Frustration can set in and before realizing it, the team leader has moved off on his own to take out the enemy. That’s not too hard to do at the entry level, but try it at the elite difficulty setting and all you will get is a quick trip to a pine box.

The game does have some enjoyable elements. The sniper scope that allows for zooming in smoothly may not be realistic, but it is fun. The player movements and death scenes are also well done. (It is nice to see a game that realizes an enemy can be dispatched with one well-placed shot.)

Whether mission-based, a firefight or recon, this game is definitely challenging (unless you play at the recruit level, then it is more than forgiving).

There is little doubt that this game could have been much better had the control system been worked over and made a little friendly, or explained better. The unit command options are also a mess and even though players are put in charge of two units, getting them to quickly and effectively do what you want them to do can be frustrating.

Ghost Recon is supposed to be about stealth, and a finely trained killing unit doing what it does best. However, some of the missions ­ while well explained ­ have all the subtlety of Hannibal moving his army with elephants. The game does have some good points (like the Desert Siege bonuses), but there are better first-person shooter games on the market.

This game is rated Mature for blood and gore and violence.


Gameplay: 7
The load times take longer than would be expected from a game, but once in a mission, the game does move seamlessly through the missions, which are well detailed. The game stumbles through when it comes to controlling your fire teams.

Graphics: 8
There are a few minor clipping problems, but the overall design of the game is very smooth, with crisp graphical elements. The animations are also good.

Sound: 8.3
The sound of this game is very good, from the mission briefings to the combat sounds.

Difficulty: Medium
The one-man alone scenario is infinitely easier than the contortions to get the team working. The controls are not well explained either. All manual references are to the unit controls with little attention given to the base commands.

Concept: 6.5
This game was ported from the PC, and something was lost in the translation. The developers have tried to bolster the interface controls by adding a bonus mission pack, as well as behind-the-scenes footage, and while that is all well and good, it is the game that matters.

Multiplayer: 7
The game boasts head-to-head and cooperative play, but your initial option is limited to the one-on-one confrontation. It is enjoyable, though the radar does sort of give it all away.

Overall: 6.8
This game has some problems that deter it from being an involving Clancy/Red Storm title. The Rainbow Six games were much better at team controls, and while the scope of mapboards may not have been as large, the game play was more immersive. This title does have challenge but also delivers its share of frustration.

Above Average

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