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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
August 05, 2003
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 December 23, 2002

Full Review: Thinking about purchasing Ghost Recon? Don't think, just do it.

I had much anticipation going into Ubi Soft's Xbox version of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, but deep down inside I felt I was in for a letdown. I mean, the game has received very little coverage when compared to the other Xbox Live showcase games, and had even less hype going into it's release. But then again, hype doesn't make a good game, and surprisingly, Ghost Recon is simply stellar, and sets the standard on how to do a team-based, tactical combat game, especially on a console. The fact remains, if you want a compelling experience both online and off, Ghost Recon is the way to go. Let's take a look at the finer details.

Like any good Tom Clancy title, Ghost Recon takes place in the not-so-distant future ? 2008 to be exact. Mother Russia, now under the control of a Radical ultranationalist group, has vowed to take back lost sections of the old Soviet Empire, in turn tittering the world on the bring of war. This is where you, as a group of highly trained green berets known as ?The Ghosts? fit into the mix. Your goal will be to infiltrate various key areas to complete a range of missions that will eventually lead to preventing all out war? oh yeah, and you're a bunch of badasses if that helps matters.

The game itself is a multi-mission based affair. Each of the many different levels requires you to complete a good deal of objectives in order to complete the overall mission at hand. These can be just about anything, from rescuing soldiers, blowing up certain objects, or wiping out a whole squadron of troops, tanks and all. Before each mission you are briefed on your objectives, special interest points, and means of extraction, which is always key to any mission. You're also able to pick from many different soldiers of different class to assemble your troops to take into battle. At first this might seem like a bit much and you can let the computer auto-assign, but once you get the finer aspects of the game down it's probably best to select your own troops. Plus, once a soldier has completed a mission he is given points that you can add to certain aspects of the player ? these include how good he is with weapons (Weapons), how many hits he can take before going down (Endurance), how stealthy he is (Stealth), and his leadership role (Leadership), which gives fellow comrades extra points on their stats for every three he has. Might sound a bit complicated, but it's easy to pick up on and gives the game a lot of depth.

Character classes come in four different forms ? Rifleman, Sniper, Support, and Demolitions ? and each offers their own unique abilities to complement your objectives. The Demolition soldiers, for instance, are required for mission involving armored vehicles such as tanks, and mission where you must destroy something to complete an objective. Of course, their weapon choices come in the from of Rocket Launchers, mines, and various other explosive weaponry. Then, naturally, the Snipers are the only characters that have access to a sniper rifle, and so on and so forth. All in all, the different classes keep things interesting and require you to put a little thought when going into each mission.

Ghost Recon is played from the first-person perspective, but unlike your typical first-person-shooter you don't see your gun and it moves at a little slower pace. While you do a good deal of killing in the game, strategizing is at the forefront of the gameplay here. At any given time you can switch between any member of your six, two team-based squadron, of which will always follow your orders and where you go. You'd think that controlling two different units of soldiers would be difficult, and honestly, at first it can be, but with a little playtime you'll start to notice the simplicity at which you can give orders. You can set your troops level of fire, making them assault any enemy they see or only fire when fired upon, and make them advance and hold with the click of a button. This is all controlled through the game's Command Map, which also gives you a complete map of an area and the places of interest.

Control-wise, a gamer really couldn't ask for much more. Ghost Recon takes the standard Halo control set-up and goes with it. Normally, converting a FPS of this type to a console brings up accuracy issues, but with Ghost Recon being a slower-paced, less shooting oriented game, the Xbox pad works as well as you could hope and there's even a little auto aim to help you out with your shooting. The buttons are mapping out in a very orthodox fashion, with the fire button labeled to the right-trigger, your Command Map is accessed with the L-trigger, and your face buttons do things like change characters, turn on night vision, reload your weapon, and switch to a different weapon.

The single greatest aspect of Ghost Recon's gameplay is just the realism that is involved here ? thanks much in part to the solid A.I. and lifelike mechanics. It's the subtle things that stand out here ? you'll notice that switching and reloading weapons actually takes a few seconds (measured by an on-screen display), when firing rockets you'll notice gravity plays a role on your shot, required you to aim a little high on long range targets, and you'll find that it doesn't take too many shots to be taken down (one shot to the head and your dead by the way). Another small but unique feature allows you to put your characters in three different stances at any given time ? standing, crouching, or laying down. The different stances might seem like a novelty at first, but it's very helpful in the overall game. As the ?ghosts', stealth plays a major role in the gameplay, so hiding behind objects and staying quiet is imperative to your survival, which is why it's important to crouch down when moving through unexplored regions and to lay down in the distance to take a shot on an unsuspecting enemy. Additionally, when in-doors it's always good to be careful and expect the unexpected ? walking into a room to save your fellow comrade only to have an enemy soldier blast you in the head with a shotgun out of nowhere is never good (as with what happened to me).

While the single player aspect of the game is definitely worth a play through, it's Ghost Recon's multiplayer options that will keep you coming back for more ? these come in the form of split-screen, system link, and of course, Xbox Live support. The greatest part about all of this is just the sheer variety. You and up to 5 other players can get into cooperative mode, have huge 8-on-8 team-based battles, or you go at it solo in a free for all battle. Each of these modes offers a good deal of game types and customizable features, as they should, and when playing online the voice communication really makes team games all that more exciting. In the end, Ghost Recon's online characteristics are just as good as what is found in Unreal Championship and MechAssault.

Visually, Ghost Recon is solid, albeit unimpressive. The characters are nicely rendered and animate well, and the environments are relatively gorgeous, especially the outdoor ones, which are lushly populated and full of some nice details ? the way the trees sway in the breeze is highly impressive for instance, and the fact that the environments are large a varied help things out. The problem here is that the textures in the game look very outdated, resulting in a bland, unimposing look when you're up close on objects. Unfortunately, the weak explosion effects and water physics in the game don't help matters much. Getting back to the positive side of things, the game does run at a nice, smooth frame rate, which never dips down on you. All in all, a great looking game, but something tells me some graphical flare was held back a bit to make sure everything runs smoothly when playing online.

The audio, however, fares much better, and helps immensely in the game's high realism. Bullets wiz by your head, tanks explode at your mercy, and your teammates sound like professional Green Berets. All of these sound effects are really just top-notch, and is further enhanced with 5.1 surround sound. As for the music ? epic would be the best way to describe it. Once you hear it you'll be ready to jump into battle to save the world.

Bottom Line
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon turned out to be quite the surprise, and a game worth checking out by just about any Xbox owner, especially if you're Live. Though, the single player experience is worthwhile and easily the best out of the current crop of Xbox Live supported titles. Overall, the compelling, team based gameplay, exceptional multiplayer options, and excellent audio make the title one of the better Xbox games of the year. In fact, the only real flaw worth mentioning is the slightly outdated visuals, but unless you're a super graphics freak, it's something easy to overlook. Don't however expect anything akin to Unreal Championship, as the game is slower and more tactical based, but that certainly doesn't make it any less fun.

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