Reviewed: April 19, 2005
Released: March 15, 2005
The ghosts are back in the newest squad based shooter from Tom Clancy and Ubisoft. Like its predecessor, Ghost Recon 2 is a tactical shooter that puts you in command of a small infantry squad of elite warriors with todayís most advanced weapons.
As per usual Tom Clancy style, the story is rich and full of twists. Very similar to Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, the story involves political tension on the Korean peninsula. Basically, an American vessel is attacked, and the North Koreans are blamed. This story is a lot like the Splinter Cell version, but it is more focused on what would happen if there were no Sam Fisher. Political hotbeds erupt, and your squad is sent across the globe on a 14-mission campaign to investigate and uncover the truth behind this terrorist plot.
Your agenda will lead you through missions that will require you to search and destroy various hard targets, rescue POWs, assassinate various people, and ambush convoys in settings that range from forests and shipyards to military bases and massive dams.
The premise sounds grand, and the reputation should evoke excellence, but the gameplay here just feels watered down. The missions are dull and repetitive, and they offer nothing fresh or innovative to the genre. The level design is almost completely linear, and even provides contrived roadblocks and obstacles that just make the whole game feel small and cluttered. Every path is set out for you, and the levels offer no alternatives.
Even the enemy is easily predictable, as there are obvious spawn points where you just know the enemy is about to appear; and this doesnít change. It is the same every time you play the level; this offers no variation and little replay. I also didnít like the fact that stealth didnít seem to be as big a deal as the advertisements made it out to beóthe game chooses when you use stealth and when you donítóif the enemy is suppose to attack you they will, as there is no sneaking around unless that is what the game sets up for you.
Thankfully, most of the missions in the game will only take 10 or 15 minutes to play through, and there is no quick save, so it is mainly just trail-and-error gameplay. After failing the mission a couple of times, youíll have learned where the enemy soldiers and vehicles appear, and this will never change.
The squad AI is terrible. You will find that your comrades are mostly useless, and completely expendable. There are a few missions where you are sent in alone, and these missions really show just how useless your teammates are, as there is no difference at all in how the enemy reacts to you, and how the enemy AI is easily predicted and easily taken out all by yourself.
The interface used to control your squad is easy enough to use, and you can direct them to do actions like cover fire, throw grenades, or take cover, but mostly you will just find it easier to kill everything yourself. I did enjoy the new third person perspective, but it really has no practical gameplay value at all. Mostly, the gameplay felt watered down and blatantly insipid.
The graphics in Ghost Recon 2 are just as lackluster as the gameplay. The levels are obtrusive and bland, and most objects, like foliage, are completely terrible up close. The character models and the new third person perspective look decent enough, but most of the details are sorely lacking. Also, the character animations are poorly done, especially the death animations. When an enemy dies they just jerk up suddenly and awkwardly, and it is actually quite funny, but not very realistic.
Basically, the graphics here are definitely not what youíd expect from a Tom Clancy title; and it kind of made me wonder if some of the budget for this game maybe got put towards the incredibly high caliber Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.
The sound is rudimentary, and there is very little voice acting, but what we get is at least acceptable if not somewhat melodramatic. There really isnít much to the sound; the gunfire is decent, and the somber little military tune that plays when a compatriot dies is a nice touch. The strongest part of the sound in the game is the music that plays on load screens and menusóit is forceful and driving, and is reminiscent of a Jerry Bruckheimer film.
The Gamecube version of this game is cheaper, but offers no multiplayer. The Xbox and PS2 versions are about ten bucks more and offer online modes of play, and naturally the Xbox version looks a bit sharper than the other two systems.
You can earn points in missions to unlock extra content, but it is not worth it at all. It is a shame that there is no multiplayer for the Gamecube because games that pit small squads against dozens of computer-controlled enemies obviously lend themselves to cooperative mode, so the absence of one is more pronounced here. There isn't even a split-screen mode for simple deathmatch. Instead, there are single-player quickplay modes that let you run through the single-player levels individually (outside the context of the campaign).
Ghost Recon 2 completely fails to live up to its predecessor in every way possible. I was hugely let down by this game, as I expected much more from the people that brought us the Sam Fisher series. I feel like this game relied too much on the Tom Clancy legacy and did not even bother to actually deliver a game worthy of such a quality-evoking name.
Players who simply just cannot get enough of modern shooters, or squad based action, might find some forgivable aspects in this game, but for the rest of us, there are much better alternatives out there.