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Back Beat Media

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Ghost Recon
3D Acceleration: Yes
Demo: Yes
System Requirements: Mac OS 9.2 or later
Mac OS X 10.1 or later ESRB Advisory:
G3 or G4 processor at 450 Mhz or faster Mature
128 MB of memory (256 MB for OS X)
1 GB Free hard drive space
Hardware 3D acceleration required

Machine Tested On:
Dual 1Ghz G4
Nvidia GeForce 4 MX
512 MB RAM
OS X 10.2.3

Publisher: Aspyr Media

Shawn Lips

If You Can See Me, Then I'm Already Dead!
Let me start off by saying that I was curious enough about Ghost Recon to be duped into doing some work for MacGamer. In the end, it was more to their chagrin than mine I suppose. However, I am a child of the space invaders/ defender genre of computer games and I have been quite satisfied to stay in my nostalgic world of blocky pixel derived dreamscapes. I do not normally pursue game play that requires a large investment of brainpower or skill development. I like to be in and out of the game in half an hour with a modicum of playing skills.

Recently though, I made the "switch" from PC to Mac and I love it. The arrival of my new Mac, and its relatively amped up video card, has led me to a whole new bump-mapped world. It also leads me to wonder why everyone tried to dissuade me from utilizing the Mac as a gaming platform. Ever since my purchase, I have become a full-fledged gamer. But, even with my newly spawned desire to experience the wonders of first person bloodlust, I still have a taste for simplicity. Thus, my original response to the idea of squad-based play was one of extreme reticence. A perspective that grew even gloomier once confronted with the notion of fifty-two unique button assignments and the micro/macro level of management that squads require.

Nevertheless, I had signed up to be a "Ghost" and the Great Ether lay before me. All it required was one quick - albeit accurately executed - bullet to the brain, and the time it took to marvel at the fluid pooling from my gaping head wound, and I was completely enthralled. I wasn't going to allow myself to be routed by some grotesquely trite Tom Clancy boogey man. My pride was on the line. It was time to teach those pesky ultranationalists a lesson. Umm, just a minute, I have to save my game one more time.

Maybe I Should Become A Horticulturist.
Ghost Recon is the follow up to the Rainbow Six series inspired by Tom Clancy. The "Ghosts" are an elite American infantry unit that have been educated in the use of the world's most advanced technology, and highly trained in the deadliest combat techniques. Their single-minded job is to enforce world peace at NATO's whim and they'll prove that they have the combined cajones to do it.

Apparently, Russian Separatists are our new enemy. They are as nostalgic as our fanciful Mr. Clancy because they've got Georgia on their mind. They pine for the good old days of the Cold War, when shoulder pads were hot and D├ętente was not what you earned for peeking into the girl's locker room.

We find ourselves in the year 2008, and the world is quickly sinking into a conflagration that will lead to World War III. As the world's leading special-ops group, it is our job to give the Russians a good spanking and send them home without their supper. Along the way, we get to improve our vocabulary and our sense of world geography. All this as we run around Eastern Europe into such places as Belarus and Kazakhstan. Why can't we all just get along.

To make matters worse, the Russians bankroll their conflict by selling arms to the Ethiopians. We don't know what is driving the initial motivation for this conflict. Access to food, water, whatever. Apparently, Haile Selassie was correct in his 1968 speech that "until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers ... in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed", the "African continent would not know peace". Well, it's a little more complicated than that. But, as it happens, the Ethiopians have designs on Eritrea and, according to Bob Marley, "a hungry mob is an angry mob". But, hey, with good shooting like this who needs logic?

The briefing is the next step on the way to taming Sodom and Gomorrah. Mercifully, this screen also confers the ability to stop the briefing from being read to us aloud. Thereby, allowing us to scroll through the text in peace and quiet.

The briefing provides global positioning via a world map. It also indicates the region's weather status and specifies the local time. Thus, determining a day versus night insertion and the effective visual range due to the local weather situation. You may also choose to select the command map which displays the location of each assigned objective, both mandatory and optional. Each objective can be selected to ascertain more information.

Once highlighted, the target's location is distinguished from the others via a giant set of crosshairs and a graphic visualization that is also supplied. I really like this particular capability as it allowed me a quick introduction to my environment. Thereby, providing a skeletal framework in which to plan an attack. The only drawback was that the visual actually obscured the objective's position on the map while it was highlighted.

Achieving all the core objectives completes the mission. So, if you wish to rack up any of the extra-curricular activities, it had best be accomplished before the last target has been acquired. The completion of all core mission requirements and all the special objectives will unlock a specialist. Each specialist beefs up your team immensely. They are usually better trained, more experienced than the majority of your current roster, and the equipment they bring with them will leave you drooling.

Is That A Bazooka In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me.
Following the briefing, we have to select our platoon members. Each soldier belongs to one of four infantry classes (Rifleman, Support, Sniper, Demolitions). The class type determines what variety of field kits can be assigned to each fireteam member. Selecting a designee's name allows us to access their skill profile. Every profile breaks down into four attributes - Weapon, Stealth, Endurance, and Leadership. As platoon leader, our choice of people and equipment determines the potential outcome of each mission. We can designate up to six individuals to the fireteam, which can be separated into three squads. The squads can contain a maximum of three designates. A soldier's position within the squad also determines their hierarchical ranking. So, placing someone with strong leadership skills at the top of the squad can be vital to your success.

As you will discover, this organizational dependency can lead to some interesting gameplay. At one point in the game, I had a fairly inexperienced squad composed of a rifleman (squad leader) and a member trained in demolitions. I set them out to destroy a tank while I occupied myself with the other squads and the elimination of a number of enemy units. In spite of this thoughtful approach, I continued to fail the mission over and over. Finally, I decided to investigate my fledgling squad and discovered the source of the problem. I found my rifleman raining hellfire upon the heathen pagans that composed our current target space. However, my demolitions man was found lying completely prone at his squad leader's feet with both hands planted firmly on his ears and a toothy grimace on his face. Simultaneously cursing and laughing, I assumed the demolitions role and promptly pounded a bazooka shell down the tank's throat. By the way, everyone carries a limited supply of ammunition. Once you're out, you are out! For example, a demolition member carries exactly one shell for his bazooka. So do not miss!

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