Upon looking at the words “PC Game of the Year 2001,” I initially thought Ghost Recon was going to give me thrills and spills and Tom Clancy chills. Instead I got what is essentially the same Rainbow Six I played on the N64. It’s not to say I didn’t have fun playing it. That, I did. However, Ghost Recon just does not stack up to the games of today.
One thing that took me aback was the longer than usual loading times for the game, about eight seconds worth. No big deal...except that the graphics look like “N64+” and the framerate stutters. What the heck is it loading anyway? The models for you and your squad mates are okay, but the enemies’ models sometimes border on atrocious, and the animation of said models from a distance is not good. You wouldn’t notice that much if the entire gameplay wasn’t hell-bent on you zooming in on your target to kill them before they see you. The environments are big, yet they lack detail and look very drab and uninspired. Aside from the FMVs (which are really good), the game just looks dated and unrefined.
I have mixed feelings about the control. While you can set the sensitivity, the maximum turning speed is still too slow. However, the button controls are very responsive and well thought out. The sounds heard throughout Ghost Recon are also a mixed bag. The music is fantastic... when it plays, and that’s only during menus and excited activity on missions, such as combat and objective completion, and the music never lasts for more than 12 or so seconds. The speech, although not as memorable as “Tango down” from Rainbow Six, still serves its purpose by sounding cool and calculated. The weapons make somewhat muted sounds, but no real problems there.
One of the best experiences a gamer can feel is overlooking graphics, sound, and control to find gameplay that shines. When you find that gold nugget in the dirt, it feels good. However, Ghost Recon hits the average bar again with its greatly average gameplay. Despite the game’s emphasis on squad-based gameplay, there is very little reason to do this since the AI of your squad mates is something like that of a bullfrog, and almost all of my attempts at commanding the other squad ended in complete disaster. You can simply run through the level, shooting every enemy yourself from afar without resorting to squad tactics. It’s a sniper’s paradise in this game. And using squad tactics in battle is actually quite risky, for even the greatest soldiers in your team can be downed in one lucky bullet, which the enemy seems to get every single time with soldiers you do not control. The only real challenge for your team is tanks... and having one person with rockets takes care of that. The objectives for the missions for the most part boil down to: protect this, destroy this, plant demolition charges here, catch/free this man. The missions start off okay, but they quickly become a little tiresome later on because, like I said, Ghost Recon is Rainbow Six Plus.
There are multiplayer modes, which include a somewhat clunky deathmatch, a Firefight mode (which puts you in the middle of heated combat), and co-op for missions you have already completed. Co-op in nice, but Firefight is one of those nice ideas on paper that turn out lame in execution. It is almost inexcusable for there to be game-freezing bugs (especially in a two-year-old game), yet in Ghost Recon, during the campaign, my game froze 3 times, in three different places. But that’s nothing compared to multiplayer, where freezing is more common, among other strange bugs. Ghost Recon would be a good rental, but other than that, unless you are a diehard Tom Clancy and Rainbow Six/Red Storm fan, this is not the game for you.