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Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2
Review By: Jared Black
 
Developer:  Red Storm
Publisher:  Ubisoft
# Of Players:  1 (16 online)
Genre:  Action
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  Yes
Accessories:  Network Adaptor (broadband), Logitech / PS2 USB Headsets, Memory Card
Date Posted:  3-27-05

Although the Xbox version of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 represented a complete overhaul of the series, it was still undeniably a Ghost Recon game.  That’s not true of the PS2 version, which casts off all pretenses of strategy and stealth in favor of linear missions and an increased pace.   The result is a game that falls between two extremes and won’t really please fans of either.

The phrase “Exclusive Game Design for PlayStation 2” on the back of the box should serve as a warning, because what it really means is “dumbed down because we never could make the series work right on PS2”.   The biggest change lies in the missions, where sprawling areas have been replaced with linear straightforward challenges.  That’s not to say that the game wasn’t linear to begin with, but at least before you had multiple ways of reaching and achieving most goals.  Here’s it’s simply blasting bad guy after bad guy, then doing whatever the objective tells you to do.  The storyline is also pretty basic (a series of excuses to blow stuff up), and doesn’t come close to the unique “Modern Heroes” format the Xbox version uses.

However, despite the extreme linearity it still fails to deliver an exciting experience.  Capt. Scott Mitchell moves at a slower pace like the Ghosts of yore, only with the first-person perspective no longer available (less immersion) and no real need for the stealth anyway.  Many of the new moves found in the Xbox version, such as the prone the gun camera in Lone Wolf mode, are sadly missing and ironically would’ve worked well in a more action-oriented environment.  At least he’s a little tougher this time around (no one shot kills here), but now it feels unrealistic in a realistic setting.  While you can change weapons to outfit the Cap’n a little more to your liking, the game provides zero help on their different capabilities and which is better in each situation. 

At least the option to lay prone is still there, but the only good cover is solid cover.  Forget trying to hide behind bushes because enemies can now apparently see straight through them, even though you cannot.  Speaking of which, enemy AI is scripted to an insane degree.  Each trip through a level will result in the exact same guys appearing at the exact same time, with little to no ability to think and act on their own.   Since the AI is designed to surprise and frustrate and there are no in-level saves players will have to try, try again (repeating the same tedious areas time after time) until each level is finally complete.  In this sense, it’s a blessing that each level is so short.

While there’s still a team of four Ghosts working together to take out the bad guy, many times it doesn’t feel that way.  Although the team can still receive basic orders (move to this spot, hold, etc.), oftentimes they don’t follow them like they should and they usually aren’t necessary anyway.  In fact, the only real strategy I found that worked consistently was “send the team forward to draw out the enemy so you can snipe them from afar”, although even then enemies often waited until I actually crossed that invisible trigger area before they appeared.  I guess it’s perfectly acceptable for enemy soldiers to waltz into the middle of an airbase unmolested as long as it isn’t a Captain.  When they did go ahead and show up, often they would trade shots with my teammates and never actually hit anything until I arrived.

You want online play?  Well Ghost Recon 2 certainly has it, but it’s basic at best.  There are only three available game modes (Last Man Standing, Assault, and Supremacy), and they’re pretty much what you’ll find in any online shooter.  Supremacy, in which a team must build a “link” of defensive positions across the battlefield, is the only real draw here.  That’s assuming you can put up with the ever-present lag of course and required registration to ubi.com.

Since the levels are condensed into bite-size form, the stuff on-screen often looks very good.  Everything blows up satisfyingly, character models have detail nearing those on Xbox, and the little details look realistic enough.  Even so there are still trade-offs in a sluggish framerate in certain areas, areas that seem artificially limited, and visible pop-up when zooming in and out.

I’ve always been a fan of the sound work in past Clancy titles, and this has more of the same.  The voice acting is good enough, and the sound effects are satisfyingly robust.  They sometimes seem out of sync with the action on-screen though.

HIGHS:

  • The smaller levels allow for some nice graphics.

  • Online play is competent.

LOWS:

  • Extremely linear missions and frustratingly scripted AI mean many trips through the exact same areas and enemy patterns.
  • Framerate issues in “busy” areas and some annoying pop-up.
  • Having to choose the language every time the game boots up is annoying.

FINAL VERDICT:

I don’t blame them for trying something different with the PS2 version of Ghost Recon 2, because Jungle Storm didn’t exactly set the world on fire.  Still, releasing this as a Ghost Recon title seems almost criminal to me even though the Xbox version suffered from some of these same problems.  If you want a slower action title or just hearing the name Clancy makes you drool this might be worth a look, otherwise don’t bother.

Overall Score: 5.5

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