The Tom Clancy’s
Ghost Recon series has quickly become one of those much-loved franchises that
prove the Xbox is perfectly capable of bringing all the basic elements of the PC
series to a console. The first Ghost Recon game was so good that it inspired the
release of its expansion pack, Ghost Recon: Island Thunder. Then came Ghost
Recon 2, a game that introduced bigger maps and better gameplay so it has come
as no surprise that it too would inspire an expansion pack of its own. Welcome
to Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike, yet again another reason Xbox gamers will not
get any sleep.
Island Thunder proved that more of a good thing is certainly good when it’s done
just as brilliantly as the original and that there’s more of what we love
included in the reasonably priced package. Summit Strike follows in Island
Thunder’s footsteps in that it feels as complete as the original, Ghost Recon 2,
but also brings more maps, weapons and a hearty single-player game.
single-player Campaign mode is once again centered on Captain Scott Mitchell and
his team of Ghosts as they attempt to hunt down Asad Rahil, the leader of a
terrorist cell that is quickly becoming a dangerous threat in Kazakhstan. Armed
with all the latest military armaments, the seasoned Ghosts are placed in
volatile situations that require them to go deep into enemy territory. It isn’t
going to be easy seeing as Rahil’s army is a big one and the terrain is massive
The 11 Campaign
missions follow the same level design structure of Ghost Recon 2. That means
there are multiple mission objectives that lead up to the main objective. Here
you will be taking out artillery fire by destroying the very tanks that are
causing the problems while in another mission you are ordered to take out a
communications center. Via a communication headset, Mitchell and his three
special forces team are given Intel that reveals secondary mission objectives
(e.g. destroy weapons caches) or given a heads up when enemy helicopters or
armed patrols are on the hunt for the Ghosts. The levels themselves have plenty
of depth and the environments are open-ended and quite immense.
While the Ghost
Recon 2’s controls and gameplay essentials (issuing commands on the fly) remain
unchanged, the AI seems to have gotten smarter in Summit Strike. Enemies still
make unavoidable blunders such as charging out in the open but now they take
cover, provide covering fire and try to outflank you better than they did in
Ghost Recon 2. This makes the levels far more challenging than before in the
game’s Normal setting. Luckily you can select a number of different weapon types
from the standard armaments to the sophisticated experimental gear.
Like the past
Ghost Recon games, Quick Mission brings a variety of game types you can play
over the 24 maps. Returning favorites like Firefight, Recon, Mission, Defend are
there but its Lone Wolf and Helo Hunt that will have gamers busy. Helo Hunt, for
example, has a single Ghost going up against a series of combat helicopters
hunting you down. Lone Wolf has you taking on a whole squad all on your own. If
that weren’t enough the Xbox Live multiplayer mode that remains to be the
highlight of the series. Here you can go up against 16 other players online and
playing against them in various challenging objective-based matches or playing a
co-op game with a group taking up the role of your squad. Either way this is the
reason gamers should seriously consider buying a Xbox Live subscription right
speaking, Summit Strike serves up more of the same visual treats that made Ghost
Recon 2 far more superior than the first two games in the series. The great
lighting is back and the detailed environments just make the terrain all the
more interesting. Trees will sway or the sun will gleam off the window of a
vehicle and bullets will kick up dirt when they hit the ground. Even the Ghosts
themselves look wonderfully detailed and with their natural movements they look
as realistic as ever. While the enemies seem to share the same physical
likeness, it’s the awkward death poses that really stand out. There are more
than two occasions within each level where the slain enemy plops down on the
ground and remains in an awkward sitting position until the body simply
vanishes. Now it isn’t a big deal, really, but seeing this one too many times
takes away from the realism the series is so good at displaying.
The sound, on
the other hand, is typical Tom Clancy game fare. By that I mean the sound
effects are incredibly detailed to the point that you will be surrounded by a
wall of sound. As it is in the Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six games, Summit
Strike is filled with ambient sounds that play with the senses. A breeze will
blow past some bushes and you will hear it clearly. Trickling water gets louder
the closer to the body of water you get and bullets violently tap the ground.
You’ll hear from your fellow Ghosts during each mission and they’ll chime in
with their opinions and, more than often, compliment you on good shots. From the
distance you’ll hear the enemy bark orders in their language and grenades or
other explosives kick up dirt when they explode. As for the music, the same
military-styled anthems are getting old … but then again music isn’t important
to a game that simply uses it during main menus.
the best addition to a stellar main game, Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike is a
Must-Have for fans of the military-shooter genre. As a stand-alone product, it
delivers all the goods we come to expect from the franchise and with new maps
gamers will be taking this online well until the release of Ghost Recon 3.
The game feels
and plays just like Ghost Recon 2, which might be a blessing (or a curse for
those who were not able to really sink their teeth into the game’s new
third-person view) for returning gamers. Secondly the game’s slow; methodical
pace might not suit the action junkies that would love to rush into the fray
with guns blazing.
Summit Strike displays some wonderfully detailed environments and Mitchell and
the Ghosts look great from afar and up close. The enemies, on the other hand,
tend to look a bit awkward and oftentimes the rag-doll effects lead to some
unintentionally funny deaths.
Once again the
Ghost Recon series shows off in-depth sound effects that are not only incredibly
detailed but also seem to surround you to the point where gamers can figure out
where the enemy is located just by listening closely. The music needs a serious
makeover since Island Thunder but it’s all about the sound effects and they’ve
done a marvelous job yet again.
Ghost Recon 2
showed off smarter enemies that, thusly, made the game far more challenging than
the first Ghost Recon game. Here, though, the AI seems to be much sharper and
able to come up with tactical decisions that won’t make them sitting ducks. The
enemy will duck for cover, attempt to outflank your team, and pull back with
covering fire. In short, you won’t zip through these missions that easily.
It is great to
see an expansion pack bring more of the things we loved about the main version
but also add extras that can very well make this game stand alone on its own
legs. With enough levels to keep you immersed in the single-player campaign, new
maps for online multiplayer matches and even smarter enemy AI, this game is well
worth its bargain price.
The heart and
soul of the Ghost Recon series is the online multiplayer mode and with 24 maps
and playing modes Summit Strike really shines. Whether you’re teaming up with
other gamers in a Co-op Firefight or in the middle of a massive free-for-all
battle for survival in the great Solo Last Man Standing mode, this game will be
destined to become a Xbox Live classic. You can also play all the modes using a
System Link setting or split-screen style using a single Xbox.
Ghost Recon 2:
Summit Strike comes close to outshining the main game in certain aspects and
should be considered a ‘Must Buy’ for loyal followers of the franchise. With a
variety of Xbox Live modes, maps and a robust single-player mode, you cannot go
wrong with a purchase.