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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon (Xbox) artwork

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon (Xbox) review

"Red Storm Entertainment's Ghost Recon is the second Xbox title bearing the Tom Clancy name. Once again you're up against the evil communist menace- I see a pattern developing here. You're in command of an elite military squad called the Ghosts. The Ghosts sneak around Russia and the surrounding countries sabotaging stuff, killing Russian nationalists, and basically doing whatever they can to keep Mother Russia from returning to its former power. "

Red Storm Entertainment's Ghost Recon is the second Xbox title bearing the Tom Clancy name. Once again you're up against the evil communist menace- I see a pattern developing here. You're in command of an elite military squad called the Ghosts. The Ghosts sneak around Russia and the surrounding countries sabotaging stuff, killing Russian nationalists, and basically doing whatever they can to keep Mother Russia from returning to its former power.

Ghost Recon is a tactical shooter in the vein of Rainbow Six and Rogue Spear. You have control of a six man squad that's divided into two teams of three. The makeup of these teams is up to you. You've got a whole crew of soldiers that fall into 4 different classes; Riflemen (the basic all purpose unit), Support (guys with big guns), Snipers, and Demolitions specialists. Each soldier has a name, and as they accumulate kills and accomplish objectives they get experience points which you can place into four categories (Weapons, Strength, Leadership and Stealth). Guys will also receive medals for outstanding individual heroics. These things make each soldier different from the next and add a sort of character development. I found myself getting kind of attached my real veteran guys, which makes it sort of traumatic when they die. If a soldier goes down in combat, he's down for good. No revival. In alot of games when your characters die you don't really care, but in Ghost Recon when your veteran sergeant with maxed out stats gets blown up in the 11th level, you really feel a sense of loss. There's always another guy to take his place, but he's gonna be an inexperienced rookie.

Ghost Recon features a large realistic array of modern weapons. From silenced MP5's to high tech assault rifles, to pistols, bazookas and sniper rifles, everything is here. Which weapons an individual soldier can carry is limited by his class, but there are options within each class. For example, a demolitions guy can carry a rocket launcher, grenades, or bombs. A Rifleman can carry a machine gun with a grenade launcher, or a normal machine gun with a silenced pistol as a sidearm. These are just a couple of the options available, each class has 4 different choices when it comes to equipment.

You're only in direct control of one soldier at a time, with the rest of the soldiers in that team following exactly what you do. You control the other team with a simple to use in-mission interface. You can set waypoints for the other team, telling them where to go. You can give them various orders like Hold or Advance at All costs. You can put them in different modes, such as Recon and Assault. From this team-control interface you can also get a quick view of the status of all of your soldiers at once, see how much ammo they have, see who's wounded, dead, etc. You can also quickly change to any soldier of any team.

Every aspect of the missions is very well executed. There's no music in-mission, only extremely realistic ambient sound effects that make you really feel like you're on say..a mountaintop, or a rainy street. The pace of the action is very methodical. Don't take that as ''slow'', which implies a boring pace-there wasn't one moment in Ghost Recon when I thought ''this is boring''. There are enemies everywhere in Ghost Recon, and often they can be hard to see. You're constantly searching for enemy soldiers, which consists of alot of slow moving, stopping, and reconnoitering. You can also send your off-team to patrol. If they spot an enemy, they'll either report their position to you or automatically open fire, depending on what orders you've given them. Missions usually consist of 4 objectives, one of which is usually optional. If you do the optional mission you'll unlock new soldiers with very high stats and/or specialized weapon types.

The sense of tension and paranoia can be pretty damn good at times, like when you're creeping through a forest or a bombed out group of buildings. At any given moment you can suddenly hear the loud report of machine gun fire, quickly followed by ''Alpha has a man down''. Seeing your enemies before they see you is often essential to your survival- a well placed burst from a Russian's heavy machine gun can take out half of your men in a second. If you don't recon an area well enough you could find yourself running into a communist and losing a man (or three) in an instant. Like I said before, it really sucks when you lose a man.

The atmosphere in Ghost Recon is feels so real, it's incredible. There's a mission where you're escorting a column of tanks through a Russian town, under fire from multiple directions, and some of the enemies are carrying shoulder mounted rocket launchers, trying to take out your tanks. Times like this are what make Ghost Recon kick so much ass- it just feels so real. It's as close as you'll get to playing as one of the grunts from Blackhawk Down.

There are a couple of things that keep Ghost Recon from being a perfect game. It's a port of a PC game that's about a year old, and they didn't do anything to update the graphics for the Xbox. The textures are crappy, the character models (with the exception of the guys in your squad) are crappy, and there's a pretty low polygon count in most everything. Also, when it comes to cramped spaces (like inside buildings) your teammates AI can be a bit on the sucky side. It's not usually a problem, but a couple times I found my buddies getting stuck trying to go through doors two at a time. Sometimes when you're running your teammates don't follow as closely as you'd like, but that's not much of a problem either because you're hardly ever running in Ghost Recon.

The graphics suck, but they don't take away from the overall experience at all. The pacing of the game, the sound, the quick manner in which a good mission can turn into a failure, the amount of weapons, and the mission design add up to make this the most realistic and atmospheric FPS I've ever played. If you want a fast shoot 'em up for Xbox buy any game BUT this. Ghost Recon isn't about speed, flashy graphics, and alot of running and gunning-it's about strategy, grit, and realism. Some people may really enjoy it, some people may wish they were playing Serious Sam or Halo instead, but in my mind, as far as console games go this is very unique, and a welcome change of pace. If you've got an Xbox there's no way you should miss out on Ghost Recon.

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Community review by goatx3 (December 18, 2002)

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