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Are you going to buy an Xbox One X This Holiday Season?

Hope to Receive it as a Gift

Game Profile
PlayStation 2
Red Storm Entertainment
GENRE: First Person Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-16
March 16, 2004
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 April 12, 2004

Full Review: It's a rumble in da jungle.

Ghost Recon. Originally released on the PC in November of 2001 is still getting first class treatment from publisher, Ubisoft, almost three years later, regardless of a slight overlook when it comes to any major modifications and/or enhancements to the standard gameplay formula. For those few unfamiliar with the franchise, it's a squad-based first person shooter set in the not so distant future, and usually involves the killing of terrorists who have very bad things on their agenda. The latest offering to the aging franchise comes in the form of Jungle Storm, a game that features both the Island Thunder expansion, which recently hit the Xbox, and a PlayStation 2 only campaign in the form of?you guessed it ? Jungle Storm.

Chances are if you've played a good dose of Tom Clancy's games (Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six 3, any Ghost Recon, etc?) as of late you're probably quite tired of the relatively confusing plotlines that make-up the anti-terrorist stories. Well, I am anyways. This time the story takes us all the way to the island of Cuba. It's 2010 and after Fidel Castro's reign ends a battle of power begins in the small island's governmental status. Basically, the people want a democracy, with free elections and such, while those who swear by the communist's ways will do anything to make sure nothing changes. Hence, you, playing the role of the elite Ghosts, will step in to quietly and quickly bring peace to those who want uproar. This story is what makes up the already established 8 mission Island Thunder campaign, while the PS2 exclusive Jungle Storm's story ties directly into the aforementioned one, and has your team bringing peace to an uprising in the jungle's of Columbia. Like I said, aren't you tired of this? Anyways, forget the plot (like I did), and let's talk about how this puppy plays.

I could tie-up up this review quite quickly if this was a perfect world and everyone has already gotten the chance to play a Ghost Recon title, however, this of course isn't a perfect world and there are a few gamers out there yet to experience the fine-tuned squad-based murder-a-thon that is Ghost Recon. Not much has changed since previous outings here. You still control two different 3-man teams, known as Alpha and Bravo, from the first-person perspective as you coordinate precision attacks on that terrorist booty. Making up your team is a good array of soldier types, ranging from rifleman to support, to snipers and demolitionists. With each class having their own "kits" that contain certain weapon arrangements. For instance, the snipers can use sniper rifles and demolitionists have explosive devices, like demo charges and rocket launchers. The game's controls are well executed, taking advantage of the PS2's dual control sticks for moving and aiming, using the face buttons for changing weapons, reloading, turning on night vision and opening doors, while the trigger buttons fire your weapon, use the quick order, and let you access your command interface. Adding to all this is the ability to get in three different stances (standing, crouching, and laying down) with the up and down buttons on the direction pad, or peek around corners with left and right. All in all, we have a solid control scheme here, and no one should have a hard time getting the hang of it with a little play time.

A lot of your time playing the game will take place in the Command Interface (L1). Here you'll survey the landscape and tell your troops where to go and what to do. Additionally, here you can take control of whichever character you want. So if you're ever in the mood for sniping or taking down tanks with a rocket launcher, it's very possible. Figuring out the CI can take a little effort, but it will be well worth it once you have you team moving like the Green Berets in real life. Your team A.I. is for the most part pretty intelligent ? for example, if you direct them somewhere and they start getting fired upon, they'll hold until they take out the opposition before moving on (unless you're in advance at all cost mode). And at other times they can be down right oblivious to the current situation ? sometimes a character will just sit there and not follow his team, and at other times you know they have shots to take but they just sit there and do nothing. Luckily, these times are few and far between, but it does happen. Also, don't expect a good fight from the opposition, as they're pretty unintelligent and easy to take down. While the game does sport a good deal of strategy elements, I found that you can just slowly move along and take down enemies until you've made your way through the mission, nothing fancy.

Mission objects don't stray too much out of the norm here. You're either going to be rescuing people, killing everyone, securing packages, or destroying a target, and it rarely goes of this course. So if you're a Ghost Recon veteran, don't expect anything too different. Keeping the game interesting is the return of the point system. Here you can upgrade those soldiers who complete missions successfully with more impressive abilities that fall into four categories ? weapons, stealth, endurance, and leadership. This has always been one of my favorite features ? as it's always fun to take a survivor and use his experience into making one kick ass soldier. My only complaint is that when injured these Ghosts don't heal up very quickly, so if you want to use them in every battle you're going to spend a few limping around. Sure, it's realistic, but it can also be annoying.

Jungle Storm no doubt features a solid single player mode, consisting of 16 missions in all, with 3 different difficulty settings. However, if you want to truly extend the life of the game playing the multiplayer modes is a must ? this includes split-screen and online support. Split-screen let's you team up with a fellow gamer and either take on the missions, or compete in a wide array of modes ? such as firefight, recon, and defend. Furthermore, if you wish you can have one on one battles, but they tend to be pretty substandard and not worth much attention. Then of course there's the infamous online support. It is here where you can play with up to 16 players online in a great variety of modes. Much like in the Xbox's Ghost Recon titles, you can voice chat with your friends or enemies depending upon which mode of play you take part in. Tournaments will soon be available to compete in and a ranking system is already well in place. Everything needed for a solid online multiplayer community. This is without a doubt the biggest improvement from the original Ghost Recon released on the PS2.

Jungle Storm's aesthetic package doesn't disappoint, but it's not super impressive either. While you'll see a few jerky animations here and there, and some less than impressive textures, the nice environments and effects more than make up for it. The jungles come to life with swaying trees and bushes, and the color palette suitably fits the game's jungle presentation. While weather effects and ambient lighting finish off the aging, yet still competent engine. More remarkable still is the audio. Always a staple in the series, Jungle Storm's aural attack keeps to tradition with an inspiring soundtrack and ear blasting weapon effects and explosions.

Bottom Line
While Jungle Storm doesn't offer anything remarkably different from previous Ghost Recon titles, it still turns out to be a damn fine shooter with the all-important inclusion of online support. Solid controls, tense and strategic gameplay, and a plethora of multiplayer options make it a title that PS2 fans should seriously consider, especially if online play is what you're looking for. On the negative side, Ghost Recon has been around for a while and it obvious that not much has changed. On the other hand, Ghost Recon 2 was finally recently announced, more than likely making this the last release based off the original.

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