In Ghost Recon, the year is 2008 and a group of radical Russian ultranationalists have coup d'etated their way into power with the sole goal of reuniting the former Soviet Union by force. Miles away in the mountains of the Republic of Georgia, a small team of Green Berets deployed on a peacekeeping mission just became the first line of defense. Not terribly realistic from a geopolitical point of view, but then again you're not playing it for its politics, are you?
Each mission starts with a briefing and the opportunity to select six soldiers (ranked by endurance, leadership, stealth and weapons), then assign them to 2-3 man teams for the duration of each mission.
Just a few clicks into the first mission and you'll realize that this game is so hard that you'll probably want to pop some bubbly after surviving each level. Newbies might find the level of play too difficult, while more experienced hands will relish the challenge of besting such a worthy foe.
Ghost Recon is one of the most realistic military games we've ever played. You're not gonna be collecting "health" or extra ammo-you live and die with what you start with and how well you take care of yourself and your buddies. Friendly artificial intelligence (A.I.) is good. There will be times when you grumble about being crowded into a corner by the other guys on your team, only to take it all back when they start shooting at baddies that you didn't even see. The more field experience that your guys get, the better they'll perform in later levels-a nice touch that gives the game extra meaning.
Unlike previous Tom Clancy offerings Rainbow Six and Rogue Spear, Ghost Recon takes place almost exclusively outside of urban settings where infantry tactics rule the roost. Approaching the levels with a strong, yet flexible strategy is more important in this game than in traditional first-person shooters. With its strong command element, thinking through your unit selection, movements and engagements is key. Controlling your remote units is taken care of with hotkeys which allow you to jump between teams and a map that can be toggled on and off during mission play. The map is great for pre-engagement troop movements and for identifying approaching baddies, but can be frustratingly cumbersome when trying to re-assign units in the thick of battle. Also, the lack of a hotkey for switching between soldiers within units is an oversight that makes simple mission control harder than it need be.
Baddie A.I. is very good. They'll not only respond to your actions, but seek you out. The mission is over once all of the baddies are dead-regardless of whether all of your assigned objectives are complete, a little quirk that can be extremely frustrating as it's the completion of your objectives that makes specialists available to you in future levels. The look of the game is gorgeous. Walking along a barren bluff with the wind howling around you is goosebump inspiring. With the attention to detail to atmospherics and weapon reports, the game developers have created a unique world.
The multiplayer element is loads of fun and highly addictive, with the cooperative missions gaining our endearing stamp of approval. Simply put, if you enjoy a challenge this game's for you. -Amy R. Wood
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon - DESERT SIEGE MISSION PACK
Aspyr | www.aspyr.com | 512-708-8100 | $50
Pros: Looks great, realistic combat, plus Desert Siege pack.
Cons: Very difficult, even on the easiest settings.
Requires: 450MHz Power Mac G3 or faster, Mac OS 9.2 or 10.1 or higher, 128MB of RAM, 1GB of free hard disk space, ATI Rage 128 with 16MB of VRAM or better
macHOME recommends: 256MB of RAM for OS X, a fast video card, decent speakers