Red Storm
Ubi Soft
Action/FPS
1-2 (1-16)
11.14.02

Ghost Recon


Lets cut the flamboyant introductions. The year is 2008. The world inclines on the brink of war. Radical ultra nationalists try to re-establish the old Soviet Empire back into the Russian control. One by one, the independent republics slip back into the Russian orbit. The war goes public, but before affirmative action takes places, a group of trained specialists departs for Russia. These soldiers, trained with the latest techniques of warfare, are the tip of the spear. Their goal- to halt the massacres of Russia.

Once you load up the first mission, you will be welcomed by a nice speech by your general, giving you the details of what's to come. Once you grasp the situation, you are then presented a menu in which you will select your soldiers, an Alpha and Bravo team. The Alpha team is designed with offense in mind, while the Bravo team is your cover. Each soldier differs in specialty. You may want a sniper that can reload swiftly, or you might prefer the sniper who has better accuracy. It's all depends on the statistics. As the campaign progresses, you will earn points that can be put to several used. If your sniper could reload as quick as the dickens, but is unfortunately lacking in accuracy, you can assign an individual point to his accuracy. Once the missions comes to an end, the soldier's statistics will be reset, giving you the chance to enhance their other stats, depending on the situation.

The first mission in Ghost Recon takes place out in the wilderness. Your objectives are simple, yet difficult enough to enforce strategic elements to come into play. Eliminate the soldiers occupying the surrounding area, incarcerate the general, and go home happy. Before you head home proclaiming you've liberated Russia, you're going to have to think. This is no ordinary game, you're going to have to use stealth and special tactics in hopes of defeating the enemy. Do you choose to send out your alpha team and eliminate any potential threats, or swing the bravo team across the map for the flank? Well soldier, there's a large variety of choices. You may try using stealth as your greatest weapon, or you may bring out the support weapons and unload 400 clips on the few soldiers. How you complete the mission is solely up to you. On top of that, you can play co-operatively via Xbox Live; a neat feature put to good use.

Xbox Live

As expected, Ghost Recon is live-enabled, allowing players with Xbox Live to participate in undertaking online matches. Cool thing about Xbox Live is how it works! If you're new to Xbox Live, you will quickly find yourself home to what I call the "aol" of online gaming (without the aol problems, of course) You will immediately find yourself accustomed to the Opti-Match feature, created and designed from the ground up to filter your searches. When using the Opti-Match feature, you simply select which type of game you would like to find, optimize your challengers, and leave the rest for the game servers! Yet another neat feature is the fact that the Ghost Recon servers will filter in only the best matches to fit your connection.

Graphics

Graphically, Ghost Recon does a decent job of presenting the onscreen action. If a grenade landed 20ft ahead of you, you'd know it was a grenade exploding. Sure, you would fall out of your seat with flashbacks of WWII, but you'll know what's going on. The character models are appealing, but not to the highest of our standards. At times, your campaign will come across tanks, helicopters, and even SAM Missile Batteries. Frequently, you'll ask yourself, "What in the world is that?" when it's merely a shot down helicopter. Overall, you'll somewhat impressed by the graphics, but the lack of technical upgrades from its PC counterpart is rather perceptible.

Sound

The sound is another feature we're quite used to. We've become accustomed to the Dolby Digital 5.1, ensuring us that we're right beside our fellow soldiers. Regrettably, the A-Class sound we were so familiar with appear lacking. Regardless, there are nice sound effects that haven't been seen in the console business. Once in awhile, you'll be against a rock hoping to god you aren't shot - The enemy's got you. What shall they do? My experience has lead me to believe a grenade will be coming my way. But this time, you've lucked out. The grenade exploded a few feet from you. As in reality, the sound will echo. It's quite serene for a war scene. While we are presented with WWII sound clips, we've got most of what the 'Box has got to offer in sound production.

An interesting dilemma which most online games suffer from is, in short, the lack of voice-communications. Honestly, who has the time to type, kindly asking for help? (Work with us here) If you're pinned down in a crater and being closely followed by opponents carrying support weapons, do you have the time and patience to type requesting help? No. As a matter of fact, chances are your going to use the Xbox Live headset. Communication is key in a game of this sort. I ask myself how I'd organize an attack on the enemy with the absence of a headset. As expected, I come up lacking a decent answer. The headset provides communication the easy way; cell phone quality here. You can organize attacks, "yodel" for assistance, or kindly inform a teammate of their lack of skill. This is what separates Ghost Recon from the other online games out there, shining light upon what is easily the best online game for the Xbox to this point. You even have the ability to communicate in the Lobby Screen, and hey pal, you're going to need to create teams one way or another.

Gameplay

Ghost Recon doesn't walk a line of perfection. There are faults within the online portion of Ghost Recon. Somehow, they've goofed up the online coding. On my connection, I can host up to eight on Mech Assault, while on Ghost Recon, I can only host a mere 4 online antagonists. Additionally, Ghost Recon doesn't have action packed around every corner! Occasionally, someone uses an explosive, while Mech Assault has building collapsing left and right! We'll make it simply - Image an explosion in Mech Assault being 3 paragraphs long. The same 3-page explosion in Mech Assault could be 7-pages in Ghost Recon coding! Right there ladies and gentlemen is the principle cause of lag. Lag is the principle of evil in the online gaming universe. It's slows the game tremendously down, and at times, you can die for no absolute reason. That brings up another blunder within the online portion of Ghost Recon. About 90% of the maps in Ghost Recon has some sort of flaw or "glitch". They can really stir up the hate between two teams. In a select few maps, people insist on exploiting glitches, positioning themselves just so, making them impossible to be shot at any angle. Now, who on Earth wants to deal with that? To top that, people can actually look through a wall in one map, giving them the one-up over none but you and your team.

Lets not stir the vinegar here; Ghost Recon is one hell of a game. In all of my life, I've never had so much fun playing a game with friends. The gameplay is some of the most solid out these days. And, to shake up the party, it's not like that's all. Once each game loads online, there's nothing better than shouting out commands, screaming in excitement, and have one hell of a time. You could be pinned and know that you're a goner. If you've lost hope, you'll just wait until someone nails you. But wait, what's that noise? It's a teammate, not signaled for, and to assist you in your mad escape. Very cool, no?

Bottom Line:

The developers have really made an effort to separate Ghost Recon from the other online games, blending perfect gameplay mechanics with the support of Xbox Live. The graphics, while not up to par with some other Xbox games, get the job done. Brilliant textures and effects bring the epic battles to life. The Dolby is there, stressing the realism of the grenade, which barely skimmed you. It's been awhile since I've sat down for countless hours and played a game, forgetting what was going on outside of my house. It's been awhile since a game took me like an addiction. At first, Ghost Recon has junk written all over it, I understand. Regardless, I've done what I've always done and gave it time. In short, if you're willing to give time to Ghost Recon, and have Xbox Live, you'll compare Ghost Recon with the best.

-Sean O' Connor




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