The Ghost Recon games have always been a favourite of mine, from the PC originals of the early 2000’s to the exceptional Advanced Warfighter, which really got the last generation going. Finally, the series has a true open world and proper online squad gameplay – is it therefore the ultimate tactical shooter?
The latest Ghost Recon doesn’t stray too far from typical Tom Clancy territory, with a nation overwhelmed by drug production, and an elite team of Americans sent in to save the day.
Where some people may take offense though, is that the country is Bolivia, rather than some made up South American nation. It doesn’t help that the portrayal is pretty harsh, with the country shown as backwards, corrupt, and completely reliant upon the cocaine trade. It’s not helped that the Americans, despite their characters (or what little is exposed) being pretty horrific human beings are quickly seen to become heroes, vital to the revolutionary & nationalist forces that you are helping.
The cartel themselves are introduced well, and the plot is more involved than I thought after the beta, but it’s hardly inspiring political intrigue.
Shooting in this latest Ghost Recon feels pretty solid. Most of the game is from the 3rd-person view, but holding down the trigger to aim will put you into a first person mode. Weapon handling also feels good, with the right amount of weight to aiming, whilst the guns themselves seem to have about the right amount of stopping power. It’s not hyper-realistic, but it is tactical, it does encourage stealth, and team-work is essential to succeed. There’s also a typical Tom Clancy technology focus, with a drone to help mark targets (and then synch up your team to take down the enemy simultaneously), along with a huge number of weapon modifications.
But, getting across the vast scope of the map requires more than just legwork, and it’s here in particular that the game starts to fall down more significantly. I can appreciate that hyper-realistic vehicle handling and damage is not the reason why people are here, but the car handling feels like 90’s Ridge Racer, and genuinely one of the best tactics for completing missions I have found is to crash a helicopter into the middle of the objective, get out and then start gunning the cartel members down. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why the gameplay is so inconsistent. There’s also a worry that the mission design is conversely too consistent and lacking in variety.
There’s well over 40 hours of gameplay needed to kill every cartel leader, but with 6 similar missions per area (almost all of which involve killing a target, destroying some stuff, killing all the targets or some basic sneaking) I can’t imagine too many players will ever see things out.
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