Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Review
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon is different than most first-person shooters you'll play on a console. Ammo clips lying around, super-weapons sitting on ledges just a double-jump away, and health bars? Those are for wimps! This is a Clancy game after all. Instead Ghost Recon provides a more realistic experience, with real-world weapons, limited ammunition, and one-hit kills. This makes it harder to play than most shooters, but they'd be hard pressed to match Ghost Recon's suspense and tension.
Here comes the armor.
Ghost Recon is set in Eastern Europe in 2008. Ultranationalists have seized power in Moscow and are bent on restoring the Soviet Union. The independent former Soviet states are slowly being brought back into the fold, and Georgia is next on the list. The US is determined to prevent this from happening, and has sent in special forces units to act as a first line of defense. These Green Berets are equipped with the latest technology and trained in covert warfare - they can strike so silently and swiftly that they call themselves "The Ghosts." You'll command The Ghosts through 15 missions as you try to prevent the new Soviet leadership from getting their hands on another free state.
After the briefing at the start of each mission, you will need to select your team. Your team will be divided into two squads of three men each, and you can fill these slots as you'd like. You select your men from a pool of available soldiers divided into four specialties: riflemen, heavy weapons, snipers, and demolitions. Each individual soldier is also rated in four skill areas. Weapons skill determines how quickly the soldier recovers from moving or weapon recoil before he can get off an accurate shot. Endurance represents the level of wounds a soldier can take before being incapacitated. Stealth determines how close the soldier can get to the enemy before being detected, and Leadership can boost the skills of other soldiers in the squad. After a mission, the soldiers on your team are returned to the pool, and if they performed well in the mission will receive skill points to be used to boost their skills. It is thus in your best interest to keep your soldiers alive, or they will be replaced with less skilled recruits. Wounded soldiers will even remain wounded for the next mission, so if you don't want to leave your top soldier home nursing his wounds you'll need to make sure he gets through each mission unscathed.
In addition to selecting soldiers, you'll need to pick the weapons loadout, or kit, for each. The kits are like weapons packages, so you can select a rifle with extra ammo, a rifle plus grenade launcher, etc., but do not need to fill individual weapons slots. As play progresses, you can unlock additional kits so that some soldiers will have up to eight kits to select from. If all this seems like too much work to start a mission, you can have the game automatically select your soldiers and their kits for you.
Once you are ready to go, your squad will be dropped into the operational area and you'll need to complete a series of objectives before moving to an extraction point for pick up. There is also an optional objective for each mission that you'll want to accomplish anyway, as doing so unlocks new soldiers and weapons in the game. The game is played from a first person view, and you can take control of any member of your team at any time. When you are not controlling a soldier, the computer's better than average AI will take over. The two other soldiers in your squad will stick close to you and provide cover and support, while the other squad will hold its position unless ordered to do otherwise. Sometimes your men follow you too closely, though, and won't drop to the ground when fired at until you do so. At other times, they may block your way in hallways or doorways if you decide to turn around and go back. In this case you'll sometimes be forced to take control of them just to move them out of the way.
You can issue orders to your two squads by using the game's Command Interface. Pressing the left trigger will display a map of the operational area with the location of your squad and your objectives marked on it. You can give movement order and fire orders to your squads, and even assign combat rules of engagement. The interface for doing so is a bit clunky, though, more than likely as a result of its port from the PC version of the game. The Command Interface was obviously designed to be used with a mouse, and the translation to a controller as an input device has made it less intuitive to use. Interface issues aside, the results are good and the squads execute their orders quite well.