|Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2|
|Developer: Red Storm
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-4, 2-16 system link or Xbox Live
Thinking back, we seem to have had a real glut of third and first-person shooters over the last year or two, and the Ghost Recon games have been among the most atmospheric and tactical, building up a significant following along the way. Surprising then that developers Red Storm should risk alienating the core fan base of the series by changing the game from its Spartan fist person view (with no weapon in sight) to a third person game that more resembles the Conflict games or maybe even Splinter Cell.
The gameplay in GR2 has changed significantly too – many thought that the old Ghost Recon games were to complex and fiddly for their own good, and the entire experience is now leaner, more visually pleasing and more action-orientated. GR2 does away with the ability to switch between squad members during the game, to order two of your squad to anywhere on the map, and also the neat RPG-like feature of being able to upgrade your squad with experience points and make them into elite soldiers. I hear Recon veterans groaning and looking for another game already, but hang on a mo – whilst GR2 is a very different, more approachable and instantly playable animal, it’s still one of the most atmospheric, tense, exciting, addictive and downright hard games I’ve played for a long while…
The squad can be ordered to advance, hold position, lay down covering fire or circle around either flank with a simple but effective two-button control setup. As before two will follow your orders (although not all that closely or accurately) and one will stay with you for support. Their AI is rather variable in as much as they’ll shoot just about anything from a distance, but seem to have trouble when it comes to up-close and personal fighting, and you often find yourself cleaning up for them. They’re also incredibly dopey when you order them to advance, and don’t seem to have the ability to walk around you, so you’ll have to step aside to let them by! Fortunately once they’ve saved you life as few times and you’ve survived a few missions together you’ll learn to fight and allow for their dumbassed quirks, and you’ll need to in order to survive the enemies’ AI, which is clever, aggressive, devious and bordering on the brilliant – GR2 has the best enemy close combat AI I’ve seen, and if you’ve ever seen artificial intelligence that reacts to what you do and tries to sneakily outmanoeuvre you better, then let me know.
Ah yes the sound, GR2’s sound is a right old mixed bag. Everything on the military side seems to be excellent; weapons rattle bang and wallop, explosions rumble with deep bass tones, and the ambient sounds are good too – including the various weather effects. I wasn’t however all that impressed with the acting, it’s all a bit plastic and gung ho – Mitchell never sounds like he’s in trouble or under stress and there are far too many typically American gung–ho comments going on for a crack covert “Ghost” recon squad – but maybe that’s the American way. Importantly for Xbox Live gamers the voice coms are also clear as a bell and you’ll need to keep communicating well if you’re to succeed in the many online co-op mission modes.
15 levels are set on huge maps but the actual missions won’t take you all that long, tough difficulty seems to be trying to mask what is basically a short game as far as the campaign mode is concerned. The multiplayer modes (split screen, system link and Xbox Live) allow for several solo combative, co-op and team games, (mission, firefight, defend & lone wolf) and all work extremely well – The split screen game is exceptional, allowing even for four to play co-operatively in missions, and the co-op games are great online as well, always plentiful and really show how popular co-op games are becoming - it's a shame that the Xbox Live solo games seem to be frequented by the usual a-holes who take it all too seriously though...
Apart from a few gripes with the controls, a gameplay quirk that should have been left behind in the last generation and the lack of blood ‘n’ guts, I thoroughly enjoyed GR2, but it will test your patience just as much as your ability to stay hidden, aim and shoot straight.
- Tense, atmospheric firefights.
- Sneaky enemy AI.
- Good multiplayer options.
- The M29.
- Excellent graphics capture the great outdoors well.
- Big maps.
- Superb sound FX.
- Some sluggish controls.
- Dumb friendly AI.
- Invisible walls on slopes.
- Disappearing bodies.
- NO BLOOD!