Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: A Retrospective
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, released in 2001, broke the mold for first person shooters. Its penchant for squad-based, tactical gameplay punished the Rambo-like run'n'gun tactics embraced by its contemporaries (Unreal Tournament, Quake III) and challenged players to consider variables like terrain and line-of-sight when approaching the various missions it contained.
This brand new approach to the shooter genre literally changed the game and earned the franchise a legion of fans, many of whom still eagerly await the next iteration of the franchise. With Ghost Recon: Future Soldier just months away (it releases May 22nd), we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to look back at ten years in the trenches with Tom Clancy - as well as a quick look at what comes next.
The game put you in charge of a team of up to six soldiers, separated into up to three different command groups. In effect, this meant that you could move your lads around the battlefield in various ways that would allow them to provide support for one another (moving a scout ahead to spot for your snipers, for example, or providing high-ground cover for a team that is moving in for covert operations).
Combat, as hinted at in the opening paragraph of this feature, was brutally punishing when approached in the wrong way. If you're hit, you'll probably die. Not only is there no room for charging into an area full of enemies, but simply popping your head up at the wrong time will likely-as-not lead to it being blown off. Careful, steady, thoughtful progression - with moments of twitch-based action - is the key to success here.
The experience afforded by the game - and its expansion packs, Desert Siege and Island Thunder - was unique and compelling, as you could play through each of the maps again and again - testing out different techniques as you attempted to complete each mission as perfectly as possible.
The campaigns on PS2 and Xbox were completely different, with the PS2 and Gamecube versions taking place in 2007 (and tying into the storyline of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory), while the Xbox version was actually a story-sequel to the PS2 / Gamecube version (!), set in 2011.
A stand-alone mission pack, Summit Strike, was released for the game - but only on Xbox.
The game was much better received on Xbox than it was on the other two platforms, with the Xbox version receiving an average of 80% on Metacritic, while the PS2 version achieved just 58% and the Gamecube version - which released months after the PS2 and Xbox versions - managed just 54%.
Set in 2013 (that's next year - they must have missed the news that the world ends this year), the story goes that there's some bad stuff going down in Mexico (OK so maybe they could see the future!) and that America's future-soldiers are needed.
This background of high-tech soldier gear created a solid framework into which the title's revised gameplay fitted seamlessly, with a host of virtual squad control options interwoven with the other functions of the futuristic heads-up display.
Rather than take direct control of squadmates, the player was able to issue them instructions - and using your squad wisely was key to success, even if the game was a bit dumbed-down over previous versions (you could survive multiple hits, for example).
Sam reviewed the (superior) Xbox 360 version of the game, rating it an excellent 9.3 - check out what he had to say about it...
"Great graphics alone don’t always make a game grab you, but GRAW has its bases covered in terms of atmosphere and, like a good action movie, should have your pulse racing and your backside fixed firmly to the edge of the seat throughout."
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