[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/gr/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Let me start off by saying that I had only heard of Ghost Recon when seeing Pickle play it on his PC. I never gave it much thought just knowing that the game play did not interest me. Along the same lines, I am not a big fan of PC games at all. There are very few PC games that entertain me, and Ghost Recon just did not. If you know me than you will know that I am a huge fan of first person shooter games as well as Xbox Live. So needless to say when I heard it was being released on Xbox I started rethinking my decision of blowing it off. Ghost Recon is one of those games you really have to play over and over again to get the hang of. I was really frustrated with having to control another squad on top of controlling the soldiers in my squad, in order to strategically recon the area and effectively defeat the enemy without jeopardizing the lives of my men. So after many long hours of practice and going through missions and campaigns I am proud to say that I can whoop some ass on that game.
The game is set in the year 2008. Europe is slowly falling into the hands of Russian Ultranationalists in order to bring the old communist Russia back into power. You’re part of the Green Berets elite Special Forces group called The Ghost. Your team is sent in to stop any further action by the Ultranationalists before a full-scale war erupts. You and your team are equipped with high tech weaponry and covert tactics. When sent into a mission you are leading two squads for one platoon. Within these squads (alpha and bravo) you are given the option of hand picking certain specialists. You have the choice of a rifleman, support expert, sniper and a demolitions expert. Depending on the mission you might want to designate the right specialist for the job. I myself like to have one sniper in my platoon for safekeeping.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/gr/ss04_thumb.jpg[/floatright]A good way to get familiarized with the commands and the movements of your squads is to play the training exercises, which are a great teaching tool. This training will help you use your weapons effectively as well as move and command your squads covertly. The controls to the game are a little out of the ordinary. Every button is crucial to your game play. The default controls are obviously the best, although they are not inverted. Personally I can’t stand inverted controls so it suits me. The black and white buttons help with weapons modification and headset communication. Your left trigger brings up your map, and your right trigger fires your weapon. Movement is very simple with your toggle sticks, strafing and looking is similar to Halo’s controls. Everything else is standard and easy to use once you do several missions for practice. Once you feel comfortable with your skill level than you can begin the missions. I suggest playing the missions before playing online. Once you play online it’s a whole different world. There are three difficulty levels that you can choose from; recruit, veteran and elite. I suggest starting light before going out blazing. The missions in Ghost Recon are excellent. You have many different objectives in Ghost Recon, from rescuing hostages, relieving UN peacekeepers, capturing high brass opposition leaders, recon, taking out massive artillery and your usual taking out an entire company to keep the peace in the area. Not only are you dropped during the day in nice weather, but you are also dropped either at night, in the rain, snow, fog or a combination of those weather conditions. A good tool to use is your night vision, which every soldier is equipped with. The weapons that you use can be even more helpful in the sense you can modify them. You can change your standard M16 to an M203 (Grenade Launcher); you can also go from automatic, to semi automatic. Your demolition specialist can change from an MP5 automatic weapon to an M4 rifle. Snipers are equipped with bad to the bone rifles that can strike from almost 400 to 500 yards. In order to receive more skilled soldiers and better weapons you must complete missions in campaigns and complete special objectives within those missions. One frustration about leading your squad is that your team members are very independent. If they spot the enemy, from no matter how far, they start firing. That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the mission and how low key you want to be.
The graphics in this game are pretty good, but it’s no Splinter Cell. When playing missions in the country you find that the trees are real edgy and your boundaries are cut off. What I mean by boundaries are when you continue to roam around the map on a mission and it looks like your path continues… it doesn’t…you hit an imaginary wall. Grass and trees are real straight edged with no curves or detail, everything is blocked and the colors are not very attractive. The characters look pretty realistic, if you’re a detail freak like me than you will also notice the weapons and gear blend in with the uniform so you really can’t tell what is what. One thing that really cracks me up about this game is once you shoot the enemy they always fall into the fetal position. The games sound is very well done with regards to detail of nat sounds. I have set up a 5.1 system in my room, so when playing you can hear the leaves rustle, the bird’s tweet, the air whistle and even soldiers chatting in the distance. In different missions you can hear the sounds of mosquitos and flys buzzing around your head. The little detail of the rain coming down, running through the water, snow, gravel is very evident in this game. When battling out in missions indoor you can hear the echoing and ringing of shots being fired. Another great thing about the sound, is when battling it out in a fire fight, grenades are frequently tossed. If a grenade detonates near you, or a tank fires its turret near you, you will notice that the sound becomes muzzled and you can’t hear for a few seconds. Now I have never been in battle before but I can assure you that if a live ordinance round detonates anywhere within five to ten feet of your body, your hearing will be lost for a few seconds, and your body will rattle and shake. Again, I think the game’s sound is great with or without 5.1 Dolby digital.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/gr/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]This game is Live enabled which makes game play really crazy at times. When playing online you want to make sure that your connection speed is very good, that goes for the people who want to host battles as well. Now if you plan on just joining games on other game servers then you can run into some massive lagging, or none at all. I’ve been in games where there have been almost 16 people and it runs just fine. I’ve also been in games where there have been six people and it lags like crazy. So make sure you walk into a game with a good server. The LIVE headset is a very good way to communicate within your team when the enemy is near. It helps drastically when in playing in teams, that way you can strategically move in order to effectively eliminate your opponent. Overall I give this game an 8.5 out of 10. This game rules, it’s a very intense game because you never know when the enemy has spotted you. It’s as realistic as real life combat, one hit and your dead, or maybe if your lucky you get wounded then two hits your dead. It’s a very exciting game to play, it’s as if you were really in battle. It’s very challenging and also very entertaining. I have not yet put it down since I have gotten it. Once you start unlocking different maps, and weapons things become a lot more entertaining. If your looking for a good Xbox game that rules, then I suggest getting Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon.