Ghost Recon – Jungle Storm
The “ghosts”, a special team of professionals created by the famous writer Tom Clancy, are back in action again on PlayStation 2. Bringing sniper action, close-range firefights and a lot of strategy …
The team is divided into two groups, “alpha” and “bravo” (in the original for PC there were three, but they ended up “regrouping the forces” in two handpieces), and the player chooses to control a single member, leaving the computer to manage his direct companions but giving orders to the second team, which will eventually be called to stealthily advance or shoot at anything that moves. The artificial intelligence of Ghost Recon is very good indeed, and you don’t have any worries about leaving the defense of positions or cover in the hands of your companions. When you have to face a group of enemies openly, you can decide to attack them from two sides or leave the second group in a strategic position, perhaps hitting from a distance with snipers. In some situations it is necessary to break into buildings, and even in that case the behavior of the companions is impeccable.
The control system of the game has been successfully ported to the Dual Shock 2: the left analog stick moves the character in the four directions, the right one directs him and controls the viewfinder (of course it is possible to reverse the movement); the up and down directional keys make the character change position (lying on the ground, crouching or standing, depending on the situation), the left and right directional keys allow him to move slightly to the side while maintaining the zoom of the viewfinder; the primary backbone keys (L1 and R1) are used respectively to activate the map (from which it is possible to give orders, again with the backbones, or to move the second team towards a specific point) and to open fire with the equipped weapon , the secondary ones (L2 and R2) to give any vocal orders (when the appropriate peripheral is available) and to resort to “fast” orders. Finally, the Triangle key activates the night vision device (essential, when you do not see a log), the Square key changes the character’s weapon, the X key reloads the equipped weapon (never find yourself with a single shot in the barrel at five centimeters from an enemy!) and the Circle key is responsible for action (opening doors, taking control of machine guns from the station, etc.).
As I wrote at the beginning, Ghost Recon – Jungle Storm allows you, in the single player mode, to face two different campaigns: Island Thunder and Jungle Storm. Each of them is made up of eight levels that can be tackled in sequence, each of which takes a little time to complete (usually a short hour). Well, hopefully. Often, in fact, one of the objectives to be completed is to complete the mission without victims in the team, and to obtain it you have to face the stages in a “scouting” way before getting serious. Since it was very fashionable on PC to resort to quick save and its loading whenever a team member was killed or injured, on PS2 the programmers have chosen to limit these aids numerically. Great decision, in my opinion. When an agent is injured on a mission, he must be allowed to rest “one turn” on the next stage for him to recover. At the finished level, then, the soldiers can be enhanced in their characteristics, by spending the points earned.
Each mission involves the completion of several “main” objectives and usually an “optional” one, which can be pursued without a specific order. Successful missions will unlock new usable characters and new stages for multiplayer game modes (split screen or online). The latter are quite varied and numerous: they range from the cooperative mission (for two players when there is split screen, for four online) to those in which you shoot against each other in different ways.
Ghost Recon has a great atmosphere, is very engaging and just as fulfilling when you manage to complete a mission successfully. All this, however, is certainly not due to the quality of its graphics, which on PS2 is worse than what is seen on PC, with the aggravating circumstance that it is a title that is now a few years old. The poor quality of the animations of the enemies (which literally move in jerks, especially when viewed from a distance), as well as of their agents, distracts the attention from the general poverty of the levels: poor detail, mediocre textures, few polygons. PlayStation 2 proved it could do much better, but obviously squeezing Sony hardware was not the developers’ intentions. The soundtrack also fits into this perspective, in my opinion excellent as regards the music but also without any revision: the soundtrack is the same heard on PC at the time of the release of Ghost Recon, and the effects do their duty without sharp details. To this we must add the slowness that afflicts the uploads, not so much the main ones (the progress bar is missing, but you can turn a blind eye to it), as those that concern the rendering of agents when forming teams. It’s absurd, it could very well have left the characters inanimate if moving them meant making the player wait several seconds when switching from one character to another to assess their conditions and characteristics. In one case, the PS2 even got stuck …
- Great atmosphere
- Two games in one
- Many game modes, even online
- Mediocre graphics
- Annoying menu loads
- No improvement over the original
Ghost Recon – Jungle Storm is what can be defined as an “expansion”, although this nomenclature is very far from what the console market usually offers. This means that it harks back to the original Ghost Recon for all technical characteristics, adding new missions and new possibilities to the product. Distancing from its PC counterpart, however, the new Ubisoft title also contains the Island Thunder expansion (which effectively doubles the numbers of this production), a rich multiplayer mode with horizontal split screen and the ability to play online.
For those unfamiliar with Ghost Recon, a refresher: set in a hypothetical near future, the game features a team of experts who are entrusted with unofficial missions. These soldiers must strike and disappear, leaving no trace of their passage. The player is given a group of six elements to choose from among those available, each with different characteristics and equipment: the “riflemen” are ideal for close combat, are generally equipped with a rifle and grenade launcher, and must act stealthily; the “snipers” have at their disposal a long-range rifle with a sight that allows them to hit enemies even very far away, often supplemented by a pistol with silencer; the “support” agents have great firepower (machine gun) and are ideal for “roundups”; finally, the “breakers” accompany the rifle with explosive charges or rocket launchers, necessary to destroy armored positions or vehicles.