Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Review

Ghost Recon first appeared on the PC and has been making its way to the console systems one by one.  Its final stop is the GameCube, but something happened along the way.  The gameplay has been tweaked, and not for the better, and the graphics are decidedly lackluster.  The result is that the version that GameCube owners get to play pales in comparison to the versions on other systems, which makes Ghost Recon a big disappointment.

Enemies are easy to locate thanks to Ghost Recon's radar.

The game is set in 2008 at a time when a hard-line regime has taken power in Moscow and has decided to flex its muscle in the old Soviet style.  The former Soviet state of Georgia becomes a flashpoint as NATO moves to prevent Russia from reasserting claims to its old empire.  At the forefront of NATO operations are the Ghosts, an elite group drawn from the Green Berets.  You'll need to lead the Ghosts on a variety of covert missions as you try to stop the conflict from boiling over into a full-scale war.

Ghost Recon is a squad-based game.  Before each mission you'll have the opportunity to select from a pool of soldiers, snipers, machine gunners, and other specialists to fill out the two squads you'll take into the field.  Other versions of Ghost Recon let you control three squads, but this won't put you at a disadvantage for reasons that I'll get into shortly.  Each soldier is rated in a few categories such as weapon and stealth skill and soldiers can improve these skills between missions, so there is motivation to pick the right man for the job. 

Once a mission opens, you will be able to take control of any man on your team and can take control of any soldier at any time.  The other soldiers will be under AI control, but you can direct their actions through a map-based command interface.  You can order either of the two squads to move through a set of waypoints, define their rules of engagement (fire at will, etc.), and specify their facing when they reach their final destination.  The AI in Ghost Recon seems to have lost a few brain cells in the GameCube version, and your men's actions will be pretty inconsistent.  At times they are very good at finding and eliminating enemy threats, while at others they'll stand around while you're forced to take out the enemy on your own. 

The game's AI issues also extend to the enemies.  The GameCube version's dumb-downed enemies have lost most of their situational awareness.  You'll see them continue to stand after taking a hit or being narrowly missed by a shot, come charging at your squad, or remain blissfully ignorant of the corpses or gunfire around them.  A lot of challenge has been sucked right out of the game by this, and you'll sometimes feel that you are at a turkey shoot rather than facing trained warriors.