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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Red Storm Entertainment
GENRE: First Person Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-16
November 11, 2002
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Predator

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon

More in this Series
 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on October 23, 2002

First Impressions: Giving us even more incentive to dive into Microsoft's online network.

So the launch of Microsoft's highly anticipated Xbox online service, Xbox Live, is just around the corner you've yet to find a game that will make it worth your plunge into broadband heaven. You're not really into the mindless kill, kill, kill of Unreal Championship and MechAssault, and you absolutely loath all sports games. This is where Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon comes into play. The tactical, squad-based shooter from the minds at Red Storm Entertainment, creators of both Rainbow Six and Rainbow Six: Rouge Spear, released the PC version of the game a year ago to much acclaim. The subsequent Ghost Recon expansions, Desert Siege and Island Thunder, soon followed and ?expanded? upon the original in both the single and multiplayer aspects. However, in just one month Xbox owners look to be getting the ultimate version of Ghost Recon, let's take a look see.

The year is 2008. The Soviet Union is on the verge of world conquest as they are successfully rebuilding their vast empire, and in effect becoming a force to be reckoned with. But of course, just as in real life, the United States of America won't stand for this and once again are put in a position to save what's left of this world shadowed in fear. And this is where a small force of elite, Green Berets known as the ?Ghosts? steps in. These silent, highly trained killers are send into enemy territory to do their best to change the tides of the war, and you soldier will be at the forefront.

If you've played any of the games of this sort before (namely, Rainbow Six), then you should already know the rules that apply here. The game takes places in the first-person, but it's a lot slower paced than your standard FPS like Halo or Unreal Championship. And the game certainly isn't focused on all action, as sneaking around and not being spotted is one of the main focal points. But not to worry for those of you who love gunplay, you will be required to kill plenty throughout. In fact, this Xbox version will feature twice as many enemies than its PC counterpart, making for a more action-oriented experience. As you'd expect, each level in the game is mission-based; with objectives ranging from your standard seek and destroy, search and rescue, and other miscellaneous objectives. While in game you are able to switch between various members of your squadron, allowing good variety, mainly in the use of weapons since each character in the group is only allowed 2 firearms at a time. And trust me, there's plenty of weapons to go around ? throughout the game you will encounter over 50 different types of high-tech weaponry (from both the original and PC expansions), including a plethora of submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, grenades, grenade/rocket launchers, mines, etc? Hey, no one said war was easy, but at least you're armed to the teeth.

For those who don't know, realism is in high demand here. And you'll find this out real fast when you realize that when you're shot once you're usually dead -- no if, ands, or buts, about it. For this very reason it's good to have your supporting cast as highly trained as possible, which brings us to the semi-RPG elements in the game. Red Storm incorporated a progression system that allows you to raise your soldiers' weapons abilities, stealth, endurance, and leadership. You get to pick ?n choose which stats go up for who, essentially allowing you to create a force to your liking. One major change in the Xbox version compared to the PC one is the game's ?threat detector?. This on screen feature, which allows you to recognize enemies in the area, was regarded by many to be flawed in the PC version because of its flat display. This is something much improved in the Xbox incarnation, as it features a full 3-D display that takes elevation into account. One main thing to take note of it how well Red Storm can incorporate all the different controls onto the Xbox pad. Something we'll definitely touch upon in our review upon it's release..

Of course, Ghost Recon will support a robust single player campaign, complete with smart A.I. (both your allies and enemies) and tons of different levels and challenges. However, the buzz surrounding the title is it's multiplayer aspects, namely ? full Xbox Live support. Once online you'll be able to compete in a ton of different game types, ranging from full on death matches (16 players at once) to co-op mission-based levels, all with full support of the Voice Communicator for online communication and strategizing. But the multiplayer goodness isn't just limited to online, as the title will also support split-screen and system-link play for those without a broadband connection. Basically, if you want to play with multiple people, many options are available.

Xbox owners will be happy to know that Red Storm didn't just slap the PC code into the Xbox, but have actually studied the hardware to take advantage of what it has to offer. I'm not saying it's going to be the best-looking Xbox title out there, but it should please most. One of the main things put into use is the Xbox's vertex shaders. The team has used this technique in different areas throughout, such as blowing limbs on trees, and it has in effect freed up a lot of space for awesome lighting effects and a solid framerate.

Final Thoughts
With the many high profile titles available when Xbox Live launches (Unreal Championship, MechAssault, NFL 2K3, and NFL Fever 2003), Ghost Recon will probably end up being overlooked by many gamers. It requires a little more brains and strategizing, but the PC version proved that it can also be a lot of fun. And the Xbox version looks to be the single greatest Ghost Recon package we could ask for; featuring tons of levels and multiplayer options, a huge array of weapons, and a load of Xbox only goodies, including exclusive levels and improved visuals. In the end, if you're looking for a different sort of Xbox Live title, Ghost Recon will have you covered, and if you don't have access to Xbox Live, the other multiplayer options and the single player campaign should still make it worth checking into. Look for it a few days after Microsoft's online network launches.

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