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January 18, 2002
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
5/12/2002UbiSoftRed Storm1-2M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
300KBDolby SurroundYesNoNoneNo

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Sitting around with the squad.
Tom Clancy. His books are among the most detailed and accomplished on the market with many being made into full-length feature movies, mostly featuring Jack Ryan played most recently by Ben Affleck in The Sum of all Fears. Around a decade ago now Tom Clancy created a development studio, Red Storm and after initial scepticism the games have proven to be the most accomplished special forces titles to date. Ghost Recon is one such game that first appeared on the PC about two years ago now. One of the things that sets this game apart from previous Tom Clancy titles such as Rainbow Six and Rogue Spear, the latter of which was also PS2 bound until being canned in mid 2002, is that Ghost Recon predominantly takes place in outdoor settings rather then the cramped indoor settings of the two earlier games.

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Sneaking up in the grass.
Ghost Recon is very much a squad based tactical shooter, not dissimilar to Sony's SOCOM: US Navy Seals which is still to have a date set in PAL territories but has done very well in America. In Ghost Recon however, you can control two squads with 3 soldiers in each. This is slightly reduced from the 3 squads available in the PC game - apparently to make this game more user-friendly. Prior to the mission starting you can select the types of soldiers from infantry, to snipers and demolitions experts. You take control of a single soldier at a time with the other five, assuming none have been killed, generally looking after themselves quite well. You can also issue commands to other team members, by aiming and pressing the R3 button the other squad will move to your desired location. It's also possible to order the solders to stand and run, kneel and move slowly or lie down and crawl around the levels with obvious improvements in remaining hidden and safe from enemy fire. Most of the missions still revolve around rescuing hostages, although Ghost Recon also introduces other styles of missions such as escorting people or blowing up targets.

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The night vision is useful.
Sadly there are several glaring faults with this title. The biggest of these is that while it was virtually a given that there wouldn't be online gameplay in Australia, Ghost Recon doesn't even include online gameplay in America where the PS2 is now online. Strangely, in America even the XBox version has online gameplay - why not the PS2? On the PC and XBox, the online component makes this game a massive winner in the squad based gameplay department and it's sorely missed. Perhaps the game could have been held back for a couple more months to include this vital feature.

There are several other issues with the game. The biggest is that it's possible to spot targets simply by moving the crosshair to see where the enemy is, even if he isn't visible. The radar also gives away every single enemy position, even if they are hidden in buildings, behind rocks or over a ridge, this eliminates the element of surprise and discovery. Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm almost certain that the PC game didn't give away every enemy position - it removes almost all of the tension in this game.

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You can man other weapons.
Graphically, the PC game was never something to get overly excited about, and this game is the same. In fact the conversion to Playstation 2 has progressed very well indeed with only some loss of texture detail and the obvious loss in resolution, which you expect with a TV. The modelling of both the soldiers and locations could have been improved, but the trade off to this lack of detail is a steady frame rate during gameplay, and some pretty solid animation on the soldiers. It's fantastic to see a soldier slumping to the ground after a headshot with a sniper rifle from 200 yards. Ghost Recon also has some nice cut scenes between levels, which while brief, are nice to look at. As with all Red Storm developed games the menu design is very good and allows you to easily select soldiers and their equipment.

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Time to run!
Sound is easily the most impressive aspect of Ghost Recon. While the Surround Sound isn't as good as DTS, it is better then stereo. Gunshots ring out from all around with some frightening explosions and bursts of fire. When your squad is running you can hear the rattle of their gear. When still, the wind in the air, the trees rustling and the odd bird chirping. The music is also very atmospheric and triumphant and reminded me quite a bit of the music in Independence Day for some reason.

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon was a great game on the PC, but this "dumbed" down version seems to lack a certain spark - and the online gameplay. If you like your hardcore simulations then you may be a little disappointed with this title. Having said that casual action fans will probably get a fair amount of enjoyment. If you have a good PC, or even XBox, then those versions have to take preference over this game.

GRAPHICSThe PC game wasn't great, but the PS2 version manages to keep up.
SOUNDSome great music backs some splendid and atmospheric effects.
GAMEPLAYNot as technically detailed as the PC game, but it remains addictive.
VALUEThe Desert Siege missions add life, but sorely misses online gameplay.
OVERALLA game that is probably better then the sum of its parts. At times frantic, almost always fun but lacks technical detail and realism (why can you see through trees). The biggest loss is the online gameplay. For hardcore action fans this game may be worth a purchase.

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