Ghost Recon takes place in 2008 when Russia has been destabilized. It's up to you and the Ghosts to get the situation under control in advance of the NATO troops who are on their way. The game takes you through many Eastern European locales. As the leader of an elite team of Army Green Berets known as the Ghosts, your mission is to infiltrate the cities and other locales to undermine and defeat these enemies. Before you begin in your mission, your first task is to set up your Dossier, which you use to save your progress and keeps track of any secrets you may have unlocked. Once this task is complete, your next mission is to choose which mode to play. Ghost Recon includes several modes of play including four Quick Mission types that should appeal to impatient players. These allow you to jump right into the action and include Mission, Recon, Firefight, and Defend modes. Each mission type has specific goals and parameters. Before each mission begins, you are given a briefing describing the map area and what your objectives are. Each type of mission presents its own challenges and these depend largely on what type of mission you have selected beforehand. For example, in Recon mode your mission is to gather intelligence and the team won't fire upon enemies unless fired upon. After you have selected which type of mission to play, you then have to set up the team configuration.
You need to be careful when setting up your platoon team members. Who ends up on your team depends on the mission parameters. If the mission requires a demolition specialist, you'll need to have one on staff, along with the appropriate weapons. You need to pay attention to this, because the game won't allow you to start if you don't have the proper configuration. However, you can choose the auto-assign option that does this grunt work for you. There are four types of soldier each with their own specialty, though you can unlock additional specialists when you complete missions. Players can choose from Sniper, Demolition, Support and Demoltion soldiers. Each of these has a specific task and the platoon should have at least one of each. Each character has a specific set of weapons and gadgets they can use, known as a kit. Ghost Recon's list of weapons and gadgets is extensive and includes several types of rifles and pistols such as the M16A2 and M4 carbine. Players will also be able to use several types of Sniper Rifles. Players can also access advanced weapons such as anti-tank grenades and the OICW that can be unlocked later on for more challenging missions. During the game, players can also find machine-guns that they can use, plus there are additional weapons available that you can unlock later in the game. The googles are really impressive because they allow for both heat-sensitive and night-vision modes. These are even better when combined with the sniper rifle. However, as in real-life each weapon has a limited amount of ammo, so unlike in other games, you'll have to train yourself to use these judiciously.
Before you begin the campaign on the ground, it's probably a good idea to go through some basic training that will help you understand the parameters and master the button configurations. Training mode is extensive and allows you to practice using all the weapons while getting your head into the tactics. Additionally, the game allows you to practice commanding your Platoon in a safe environment. Once you've familiarized yourself with these basic operations, Ghost Recon's main game can begin. After you hit the ground, you'll be placed in a hostile environment with your HUD which displays the mission status, ammo levels, health, the status of team-mates and your general direction. You can also call up a map if you get lost or disoriented. One of the most important tasks is to command your team. You can order them to move to waypoints, and can change their disposition to make them more or less likely to shoot at opponents. This is quite an intuitive system that makes adjustments on the fly easy. Changing your teams orders frequently is a good idea because situations can change rapidly. In addition to changing your orders, you can switch control between each team member. This can be quite useful if you want to position a sniper in a roof while ferreting out enemies on the ground with another character, giving the player plenty of strategic options. After each mission is complete, you earn combat points that you can use to enhance the team's skills. There are also secret characters and weapons that you can unlock if you successfully complete all the mission objectives. While there are many objectives, your main goal is to kill all the enemies, without killing yourself or harming innocent civilians. The single player maps are interesting and challenging with large maps with loads of sub-missions and multiple objectives that offer plenty of challenge. Ghost Recon's missions aren't that difficult, they just require some thought beforehand in order to complete.
Ubi deserves a lot of credit for a sterling translation and Ghost Recon hasn't lost much, if any graphic detail in moving from the PC to Xbox. Ghost Recon's frame rate is excellent with detailed texture-mapping giving the buildings and objects in the game a realistic appearance. Everything in the game from the weapons to the goggles looks and feels incredibly lifelike and this attention to detail is evident throughout. The large maps are expansive, allowing you plenty of freedom, though not enough that you'll find yourself lost helplessly. Special effects such as sun-glare and winter snow are impressive and the presence of fleeing pedestrians in the urban areas make these environments feel very much alive. The chatter on your radio adds to an already tense atmosphere without getting in the way of the action. This gritty realism is heightened by numerous dead soldiers scattered around the battlefields. The maps are convincingly bleak with saturated grays and browns. This creates quite an immersive game and you can almost smell the billowing smoke coming from the destroyed tanks. The detail in the soldiers is also impressive, and they animate and move realistically through the game worlds. Taken as a whole, Ghost Recon has an impressive graphics engine that makes it one of the best-looking Xbox titles to date. Ghost Recon's visuals are impressive and the translation showcases the Xbox hardware effortlessly.
The biggest hurdle a console translation faces are the controls but fortunately, the Xbox controller is more than up to the task, though it's not perfect. Ghost Recon's default controls are intuitive, but players can change these configurations to something more comfortable. Players use the analog pad to move around, and fire weapons using the shift keys. Switching and changing weapons is accomplished by pressing the face buttons that can also be assigned other functions. When you change weapons, you'll see the target reticle change shape giving you a good visual clue on what weapons is currently equipped. Strafing is easy to accomplish and since you also have the abilty to fire in a different direction than you're moving, mastering this is essential. Turning the night-vision goggles on and off is a snap and this responsiveness is welcome. The only problem is that cycling between these weapons can become a tedious task. Switching players can also make you a little disoriented, but something that becomes easier to understand once you get used to it. It seems a little intimidating at first but once you get the hang of it, Ghost Recon is surprisingly easy to play. The controls are straightforward for the most part but some tasks such as setting grenades are a little awkward in practice because they require odd controls. There are some flaws but overall, the control interface is excellent and most players should be able to get beyond the game's quirks with very little frustration.
Ghost Recon's single player game is fantastic and the addition of multiplayer options makes the experience even better. For those without online service, they game supports one on one play via split screen mode. You can also connect using the system link to hook up multiple consoles, which supports up to 16 players. More impressively, the game uses the Xbox Live service extensively that allows for a robust multiplayer experience. Several modes of play are included which adds to the fun including Cooperative, Team and Solo Games. In cooperative mode, players work together to complete single player missions as a team, with the same Recon, Firefight and Misision modes as the single player games offered. There are several Team modes available as well. In these modes, your goal is to work as a team in a battle against another team, with traditional settings such as Last Man Standing, Domination, Siege, plus Search and Rescue missions offered. There are also several Solo missions where you can battle against other players in a traditional death-match to find out who'll get the most frags. These varied modes offer plenty of variety while maintaining the same high quality as the rest of the game. Setting up the mission parameters beforehand allows you to choose the number of players, whether players respawn and how fast they recover, plus select which maps and weapons you'll use in each round. Once you log on, the process of matching up with other players is nearly automatic and allows you to get on the field with little hassle. We found the performance and implementation of the multiplayer and online modes superb. Since the service is broadband, this allows for seamless play with little lag getting in the way of the fun.
While other games offer flash over substance, Ghost Recon's gritty realism makes it one of the more engaging combat titles released to date on a console. It's emphasis on real-world tactics and weapons makes it feel less like a game and more like a combat simulation. The game maps are extremely realistic making you feel like you're actually on the ground. Playing through the single player game will suck up many hours of your time, especially once you settle into Ghost Recon's slower pace and sophisticated approach to combat. Controlling the game is surprisingly good with the Xbox controller used effectively to give the player an intuitive experience. The single player modes are excellent but playing online with others adds a new dimension of challenge to the experience. These modes are as sophisticated as the rest of the game and It doesn't hurt that connection and setting up games is almost painless. An impressive attention to detail is evident in the detailed graphics and immersive environments that make it look fantastic. Ghost Recon offers more depth and challenge than many other console combat titles. Ghost Recon is an excellent release that should appeal to those looking for an uncompromising gaming experience.