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Far Cry: Instincts, XBox, Shooters

Product: Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike
Company: Ubisoft
Website: Official Game Site
Estimated Street Price: $29.99
Review By: Chris Connor

Introduction

Blending the best features from the previous installment with the talents of Ubisoft’s award-winning studio, Red Storm Entertainment, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 Summit Strike expands the gameplay of smash-hit Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 to offer players more maps, missions and weapons. The game delivers an exciting new eleven-mission single-player campaign and expanded multiplayer content to gamers who crave more game play from one of the most popular franchises on Xbox Live.

The Features

  • New missions: Take part in 11 new single-player missions set in Kazakhstan. These open-ended missions contain multiple objectives.
  •  Extensive multiplayer content: Expand your game with 24 multiplayer maps and 24 multiplayer game modes, including two all-new modes.
  •  New characters: Get new character skins and watch for increased character interaction. The expansion pack includes new Ghost uniforms, new enemies, and a new Specialist!
  •  New weapons: Take aim with new modular weaponry, and get ready for new gear and enemy vehicles, too.
  •  Enhanced graphics: See your surroundings like never before with enhanced particle and lighting effects.

Gameplay

Review Quotes
"If you are used to FPS games like Halo, where you can “run-n-gun,” and shooting with accuracy while constantly being on the move is the key to success, it may take a bit to get used to this game.  "

If you have played Ghost Recon 2, you will be very comfortable with this game, as it is considered a stand alone expansion to GR2.  Views, controls, and issuing orders are all the same.

In GR:SS you once again play as the character of Captain Scott Mitchell, who in my opinion, really should have been promoted by now, but those decisions are not up to me.  Your primary objective throughout the game is to track and capture the Warlord Rahil.  In your quest will be leading your team of four Ghosts on missions to destroy enemy artillery, secure locations, and even secure nuclear material.  Yikes, better pack those lead under-shorts.

Like GR2, this game offers you the ability to give some basic squad commands such as suppressive fire, advance, flank, hold and regroup.  However, if you are a big fan of the more advanced squad controls, such as setting way points and having split teams, such as the original Ghost Recon or Ghost Recon: Island Thunder offered, this game may disappoint you with the simplicity of its squad controls.  There is also the further problem of your team not adhering to your orders for very long.  If you tell them to hold position, but move more than 50 yards, they will abandon their posts and rejoin with you.  Court Martial, anyone?  This is where the more advanced controls of the original GR would have been nice.

The game offers a fairly unique view in shooters in that there is a third person over the shoulder view that allows you to see your character.  For FPS purists, there is an option to play in FPS mode.  This view will only show a targeting reticule on your screen, giving you a clear view of the environment.

The mission maps in this game are well laid out and allow you the opportunity to direct your team to its objectives in a number of different ways, providing the gamer with freedom, a sense or control and accomplishment and replayability.  Once again, I want to point out, if you liked the more advanced squad controls and freedom of missions in the original GR, this is an area that may disappoint you.  If you enjoyed GR2, but wished for more freedom in completing missions, you will enjoy this game.

The game is also more challenging than GR2.  The AI is improved, as you will see much less of the wave after wave of enemy charging after you.  You will see more 3 or 4 man patrols out and about.  This is not to say there are not still issues with enemy AI respawning.  You can clear out an area, and 30 seconds later there is lead flying at your back.  This is annoying, and something I would have preferred to see them clean-up.  Hopefully they will have this resolved by the next game release.

The game also suffers from AI with ESP, or built in radar.  While not as obvious as in GR2, the enemy will often shoot at you while you are in a position where you should be out of their sight.  The frustrating thing is that this is inconsistent and you never know when it will occur.  Some times the AI works great, you can be using a silent sniper and pick off an enemy and the other AI will look around or not react.  At other times they will hone right in on your position and open fire.  The AI will also act goofy in that they will crawl right up to your feet and just lie there without taking a shot.  This is quite a difference from the times they are shooting at you while you are hidden in a tree halfway across the map.

MULTI-PLAYER

The multi-player is once again very similar to the GR2 experience, with some slight modifications.  There are two new game types to play, Helo Hunt and Armor Strike.  Helo Hunt allows you and up to 15 other players trying as a team to shoot down enemy AI helos before they can tear you to ribbons, or as you get further along in the game, try to blow you off the map with rockets.  Armor Strike is a squad game that pits two teams against each other, you will have to plan good team strategy to destroy the other teams 3 armored units, while at the same time defending your own.

If you are used to FPS games like Halo, where you can “run-n-gun,” and shooting with accuracy while constantly being on the move is the key to success, it may take a bit to get used to this game.  In this game, one shot is often a kill, and when you are on the move your accuracy is greatly reduced.  In order to get an accurate shot you will need to be stationary.  To be successful, you will need to move carefully, from cover to cover, looking for your shot.  Running around in the open is usually a sure way to get killed, and when playing Last Man Standing with no respawns available you will be doing no-one but the other team a favor.

The maps in GR:SS allow for a more open and strategic game play than many of the maps in GR2 did.  So if you were frustrated by the choke points in maps such as Quarry and Pagoda leading to the same battle taking place every game, you will be pleased with the openness of the new maps.  That is not to say there are not small maps on GR:SS.  Sub Base and Aral Sea have become two fan favorites as they lead to quick engagements, but are open enough to allow you to choose where you want that engagement to happen.

Playing co-op missions in GR:SS is a unique gaming experience.  Getting online with your friends and coordinating a successful strategy to complete a mission will give you a feeling of accomplishment.  It is rare that I have seen a group of people who do not communicate well complete some of the more difficult missions, such as Government District or Bunker Hill.  Playing co-op missions is also a great way to meet other gamers and find gamers with the same gaming style to add to your friends list.

If you want to have some less cerebral action, try co-op Hamburger Hill, where you take on the AI to control a zone on the map.  This game allows respawns and plenty of targets to shoot at.  Though if you use tactics and communicate you will have more success, it is fun to just go in and shoot.

While it is relatively easy to get onto Xbox Live, the menu system could be improved.  Navigating the menus is not necessarily instinctive and it can take some trial and error to find the options you are looking for.

Graphics

The graphics are essentially the same as in GR2, though the developers obviously used the time since GR2 to make some improvements.  There are some really great effects, such as falling snow and blowing sand that will limit your visibility and create some good challenges for your team.  There are probably only a handful of games out there with better overall graphics.

The game does have issues with the draw distances though.  On most of the maps, as you move ahead, you will see the scenery “come to life” before you a few hundred yards out.  While this is not a big deal in missions, it can be deadly in head to head games, as from your perspective you are hiding in tall grass, but the guy with a sniper rifle a hundred yards away sees you lying right out in the open, plain as day.

 Sound

I have always liked the sound in the GR series, though I know some people don't care for some of the weapon sounds.  Those differences of opinion aside, the game does a great job with directional sound and letting you know where danger is.  If you have a good surround system, you will hear someone walking up on you from behind, you will hear which directions bullets are whizzing past you from, and you will hear what side the bullets are thumping into your body from if you are getting hit.

One thing that does get on my nerves though is the overly loud directions or warnings that come over your speakers from "command".  It would have been perfectly fine if the decibel level would have been kept down a few notches.

Review Quotes
"On most of the maps, as you move ahead, you will see the scenery “come to life” before you a few hundred yards out. "

Final Comments

How It Grades
Controls: 92%
Gameplay: 93%
Presentation: 85%
Graphics: 90%
Multiplayer: 95%
Sound: 90%
Interface: 80%
Lastability: 95%
Price/Value: 95%
Overall: 93%

If you are looking for a shooter that requires some patience and thought to your actions, and rewards you for making good decisions, you should give this game a try.  For my gaming tastes, the slower paced tactical aspect, combined with the ability to join my friends for hours of online co-op play have contributed to a great deal of replay ability that keeps bringing me back for more. I recommend you give this game a try.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 93%
Version Reviewed Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike (NTSC)
Release Date August 2005
In The Box? 1 Ghost Recon 2: Summit Stirke DVD-ROM
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Excellent graphics
Good Missions
Fun Online Play
The Bad Points Inconsistent AI
Poor Draw Distances
Menus Could Be Improved
Xbox Live! Enabled? Yes
Widescreen Support No
PAL 60 Support (Europe) Yes
Progressive Scan No


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