Ghost Recon developer’s Red Storm have had a couple of critically acclaimed successes in recent years; Rainbow Six and Rogue Spear, both tactical-action games, based around the style and plots of successful espionage writer Tom Clancy. Ghost Recon marks Red Storm’s third outing in the genre too, and once again Clancy’s name adorns the military-styled box. This time however, the competition is more fierce than ever, as Codemaster’s Operation Flashpoint currently occupies the crown as on-line and single-player game of choice. Ghost Recon certainly has some catching up to do, as the strategic shooter genre is an increasingly competitive one.
So what does the game offer? Well, initially not a lot more than Rogue Spear, the gameplay once again being based around the pain-staking sniping of the enemy, occasional brief fire-fights, and a number of story-based mission objectives. It is however, in the main, all done a lot better. A new Clancy-esque plot once again riddles the single-player missions, and is the basis for the games missions. This time, the game is set in 2008, and sees the player as part of an elite US-led force, taking on Russian nationalists wreaking tyranny in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and a number of other former Soviet republics.
The plot isn’t too bad either, allowing for diverse and varied missions, in some quite interesting settings – all of which is nicely illustrated and progressed through the mission-briefings. It just isn’t terribly innovative, sadly.
The game's approach to the completion of missions is one formed on the ideals of team-work, which can be highly immersive, though in practice often hard work. The main problem stemming from the occasionally flawed team-mate AI which can lead to commands being misinterpreted and the squad being broken up. This of course results in the player having to switch character frequently, which in turn detracts from the sense of realism in working as a team. This problem manifested itself in the management of tactics, which found the game lacking in sufficient functionality.
AI woes were compounded by the enemy-AI’s strengths, which left missions extremely tricky and taxing. Though fortunately, the AI was not so awful as to detract fatally from the action in the game. Whilst occasionally repetitive, this was also often very engrossing, and tactical too, if occasionally sparse and short. The importance of tactical perfection during missions was key too, as realistic combat resulted in very high body-counts.
Multiplayer Ghost Recon is possibly the games most promising feature, with tense and tactical battles being the order of the day in a game far-more strategy-orientated than Counter-strike, though not necessarily as good as Operation Flashpoint.
The game's graphics are very detailed, stunning at times, with many noteworthy environments and buildings; though nothing ground-breaking. The characters are highly-detailed too, marking one of Ghost Recon's most significant improvements. The sound and music find itself in a similar position too, being more than mediocre but less than brilliant.
Finally, Ghost Recon is a game that those who enjoy the genre may relish; especially in multiplayer mode and for creating mods. It is not however the finest game in the genre, nor is it without it’s flaws. Good but not great.