Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon
After years of conversions developed by third parties not up to par, RedStorm rolls up its sleeves and directly converts its hit on the Sony platform.
For those unfamiliar with the PC version here is a brief summary of the facts. As explained by the persuasive voice of the initial intro (among other things completely redone in CG for the occasion, where the “old” was limited to using the game engine), we are in 2008 and a group of terrorists who evidently did not better to do decides that it is time to revive the old Soviet Empire. To thwart the threat, the US brings into action their best men, the D team, called “Ghost” because of the extraordinary infiltration skills of the team members. The initial menu is very rich and includes the usual training section in which to practice with the controller. Fortunately, the lack of the mouse does not make itself felt, thanks to a complex but ingenious placement of the keys, all the commands of the PC version have been re-proposed in this conversion. This is followed by a mode called Tactical Exercises, the Campaign option, the real heart of the game, and a section called Special Elements full of documents and videos. To close the ever-present multiplayer mode. By tackling the main mode you will have three levels of difficulty available. It is better to specify from the beginning that even the simplest level, the Recruit, will not be a walk at all. Depending on the difficulty selected, not only will the enemies be more difficult to deal with but you will be denied information useful for the location of the dangers and you will be removed from the automatic aim. Mission planning has been replaced with a simple briefing, perhaps so as not to make managing your men too complicated in battle. In this regard, those who have at least glimpsed the PC version will notice that the men available, 6 for each mission, are divided into two teams of three instead of three teams of two with the consequent relocation of the characters, a choice perhaps dictated by the will to make it easier for you to control and deploy yours during battle. The group is divided according to 4 skills: sniper, rifleman, wrecker and support. Each soldier can be assigned an armament and skills that will grow as you progress through the game, as long as you can keep them alive. If in the event one of yours were to die in battle, he would be replaced by another fellow soldier with less experience. Once this is done, you can finally get to the heart of the game.
As mentioned earlier your men are divided into two teams, Bravo and Alpha. Through a map, it will be possible to make each team move in a certain area. The orders to be given are divided into three categories: keep, advance and advance at any cost. However, these commands are not mandatory; if by chance your platoon is under attack, the soldiers will decide to stop or run away in spite of your orders, a factor that while on the one hand gives more credibility, sometimes tends to block yours for too long in one place when instead they would be more useful at your side. The AI of the soldiers is very good even if it would have required some filing, which happened in the PC version through the use of some patches, in fact it is not uncommon for teams to suddenly get stuck in front of a door or an apparently trivial obstacle, a defect that in any case does not affect the good that has been done in general. As for the enemies, however, something must have gone wrong in the conversion phase. Sometimes it happens that these become protagonists of gross oversights or that they are able to see through walls making your stealth action useless, moreover they often find themselves pointing in your direction as if they knew which way you were coming. This can be irritating when you need a specific element in one of the mission objectives. If you send it forward and even with all the possible cover this is done out you will have to repeat the mission from the beginning, this is because it is not possible to take weapons and objects from either your fallen or from the killed enemies. The transportable armament is quite sparing, even if the number of weapons available is considerable. Although the arsenal corresponds in all respects to the real counterparts, it seems somewhat strange the lack of a basic function such as the choice between the burst and the single shot moreover in a game that aims to be a realistic simulation. Overall, there is a slight simplification of the entire game system due to some choices made by programmers who probably intended to meet console users. First of all, a radar has been added that signals the exact position of the enemies, which can be criticized taking into account that the game offers us to act cautiously in every situation. Each attack is therefore less studied, however simply breaking in without thinking about the consequences will still be fatal. It is also not possible to command a single man on the map, you can only move him while on the battlefield even if the distance covered will be less.
That said, it might seem that the defects in the title could affect the quality of the product. But no. The new elements introduced in the console version and the flaws mentioned above do not change the value of an overall good game. Put simply, Ghost Recon for PS2 is, and remains, the “Ghost Recon” that PC users know. Each mission will have to be carefully studied in every detail. Advancing troops without any logic will not only get you nowhere but will also be deleterious due to the aforementioned replacement of a fallen soldier with a new inexperienced soldier. You will repeat the missions several times before being able to save your skin without having any losses in your ranks. You will get angry when you have failed a mission for a single uncalculated detail, but at the same time you will be incentivized to study a new even more perfect strategy. You will feel regret when one of your own who has always accompanied you faithfully for several missions is killed and immediately replaced by a new recruit. This and more make GR the game that has thrilled a myriad of users… yes, those users who battle each other on the Internet in furious clashes even today. The only real problem with GR for PS2 is the lack of multiplayer multiplayer mode. Sony’s much-heralded online policy has not given desired results, there are few games to date that can boast a network mode and Ghost Recon is unfortunately not among them. Alternatively, a LAN network could have been created, but evidently it was judged to be impractical (true TimeSplitters 2?) By the coders. All that remains is to be satisfied with the two-player mode, nice yes, but not comparable to a battle between 16 players as is the case for the XBOX version.
As often happens in conversions between PC and console, the graphics sector is always the least cared for. The game in its PC version is a year old and in the world of video games this time frame is felt quite a lot. The graphics engine does not show excessive flaws, the models are well cared for and the textures do not suffer from excessive washout, however on PS2 it is reasonable to expect better, an increase in polygons would have been desirable especially for the conformation of the terrain that seems to have undergone a general embarrassing decline compared to the PC counterpart. On the other hand, the PS2 version can boast of additional details including a better rendering of flames and smoke implemented through particles, and a better management of the wind that makes the leaves and ponds sway quite realistically. No doubt instead about the sound system, one of the best I’ve heard in recent years. The sound effects are well made, weapons and explosions are quite convincing, the vocal part is well dubbed even if the number of sentences pronounced is not very high. In my opinion, the soundtrack is out of comparison, excellently made and capable of involving the player in every moment of the mission. Keep the volume at maximum and you will be immersed in an incredible atmosphere!
The story of RedStorm Entertainment is strange. Founded several years ago by Tom Clancy, a writer of world-famous political fantasy thrillers, RedStorm began its “career” with Politika, a disappointing title characterized by poor gameplay but with a background of great impact. In 1998 Rainbow Six was released, an exciting thriller that did not struggle to become a best seller in the bookstore, and given the close link between the author and the software house, a game inspired by it was created. In most cases, games based on films or books have the defect of being developed with the minimum possible effort by re-adapting already tested concepts. The same RS if it had been developed with this criterion could have resulted in a Quake-like FPS but less frenetic. Evidently the programmers must have gotten divine inspiration if the end result of their labors was none other than one of the best stealth games in video game history. Since that day, water has passed under the bridge, as have its sequels and expansions. In 2002, Ghost Recon, the Rainbow Six outdoors with a military setting, was released for PC and immediately enjoyed enormous success with audiences and critics. After a year Ghost Recon is available for consoles, the lapse of time is felt above all in the graphics, but in hindsight some other elements have also been lost along the way.