Reviewed: June 29, 2002
Released: May 28, 2002
Expansion packs are generally a tough item to review. They normally only offer a few new missions, perhaps some new characters or graphical updates, and the occasional new multiplayer mode or two. In the case of Ghost Recon: Desert Siege, you get all of these things plus more without any tampering of the game model that made the original Ghost Recon the 2001 Game of the Year.
Desert Siege is more than just an extension of the first game. Sure there are plenty of new levels and missions, but there are also several enhancements to the original game that really make the entire experience just that much better.
In Desert Siege our elite team of soldiers is sent to Africa to resolve a conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea (yeah – I never heard of it either). While gameplay is pretty much the same as it was in the original Ghost Recon the settings have changed and so must your strategy.
Rather than cover everything already in the Ghost Recon review I will only cover the new enhancements of this mission pack. If you need additional information on the gameplay mechanics of the original feel free to check out that review before continuing.
Gameplay is virtually identical to the original game as you engage in a variety of missions that include search and destroy, rescue, bomb disposal, etc. The missions are once again tied together with a flimsy story that serves the action rather than missions that serve the story.
The AI has been noticeably tweaked. Enemies seem to detect you much faster and at longer range than before and they have an uncanny ability of keeping track of your location. Groups of enemies act more intelligently now and will scatter and seek cover if you surprise them. They make use of this cover by popping out only long enough to fire off a burst or lob a grenade in your general direction.
Desert Siege includes the latest Ghost Recon patch and those playing without the Desert Siege mission pack will still have to update their copy of the original game if they want to play online. This patch fixes a lot of minor problems with the original game, so there is no reason why you wouldn’t want to do this anyway.
The multiplayer modes have also been modified and you now have real-time scoreboards that show everyone’s performance. Team messages are now color coded so you know who’s talking and when you should be listening. There is also a color-coded IFF that lets you recognize critical targets and objectives.
The graphics engine now features enhanced mip-mapping that virtually eliminates the annoying flicker found in the first game. The new levels use a limited color palette so things can get a bit boring after a few missions. This isn’t to say things aren't as realistic as ever; just that Africa must look pretty boring, or at least the parts depicted in this game. Levels include oil refineries, desert canyons, beaches, etc. with the occasional tree or bush to break up the sparsely populated levels.
There are some new uniforms and weapons, but for the most part the player models and animations are still the same and just as flawless as the original.
There is nothing new in the sound department. The sounds are just as good as the original with full EAX support for amazing 3D spatial surround and realistic effects. The music still hides in the background but you won’t miss it.
With only eight new single-player missions, this expansion pack isn’t as large as previous add-ons for similar games, but there is still a wealth of content in this supplement. There are four new multiplayer levels, nine new weapons, and two new multiplayer modes including team-based Siege and Domination modes. These new modes are backwards compatible with the original game so you can go back and play all those levels in these new modes.
Those of you who would rather make levels rather than war will love the new full-featured level editor that includes plug-ins for 3D Studio MAX and the actual software the design team used to create the textures and lighting effects in the original game. All of these tools are fully documented in a large 50-page electronic manual.
Once the Ghost Recon fans figure out these tools you can expect an endless supply of levels and missions to flood the Internet giving this title unlimited life expectancy for as long as you want to play it.
Desert Siege is a great expansion pack that offers plenty of bang for your buck. The included patch will get your original game running better than ever, and the new missions will offer you many more hours of intense gameplay.
If you own and enjoy the original game then you owe it to yourself to get this expansion pack. If you haven’t played Ghost Recon then your procrastination has paid off as both of these excellent titles are now available in the Ghost Recon: Game of the Year edition for one low cost.