In the Ghost Recon franchise, Ubisoft has built up one of the best tactical games available on both PC and console systems today. Along with Rainbow Six 3, it has made Ubisoft one of the premier developers of tactical squad combat games and the Tom Clancy name only serves to back this up even more. Gameloft have made a number of Ubisoft games as mobile phone games and this time they have lent their talent to a version of Ghost Recon for the N-Gage and come up with some surprisingly good results for fans of the series and owners of the phone.
The N-gage version of the game is set in the year 2010. Guerrilla fighters are at war with paramilitary soldiers and the government has lost control due to the involvement of the MFLC, a drug cartel financing a paramilitary group. The United States sees this as a major opportunity to take down a drug cartel and sends in the Ghosts to reclaim the country and end the leadership of the MFLC once and for all. You're thrown in to the combat with your squad and must complete a variety of tasks to end the war.
Like its PC and console counterparts, the N-gage version of the game is played from a first person perspective. The big surprise here is how impressive the 3D engine contained within the game is. It is very reminiscent of the voxel engine which was used for the early Delta Force games. The gameplay basically revolves around moving from pre-defined waypoints completing the tasks such as eliminating the enemy presence at each one before moving on and finally being evacuated. You can also take command of any team mate at any time again like the console and pc games. Each soldier usually has a different load out which can be useful in different situations. However in some missions you will have a specific task such as taking out a truck. To compensate for the fact the aiming on ngage is less accurate, all soldiers will be loaded out with the special weapon rather then having one soldier die and having to repeat the missions.
Other concessions have been made due to the mobile style of the game as well. The game is fairly easy and any veteran of the series should have it completed within a few short hours of play. This is because the AI has been built as to again compensate for the lack of aiming accuracy. On the lowest difficulty level, you can literally be in front of the enemy character with him pumping bullets towards you and only be hit about one in ten times. However once you do start to get hit, its not long before the soldier will become incapacitated.
As expected, Ghost Recon N-gage is mainly played out in the jungles of Columbia with only a few urban combat areas to be found. Because of the lacking power the N-Gage has in comparison to the main consoles you will find most areas devoid of anything which stands out and the enemy bases fairly generic. That's not to say that each level looks the same, but overall despite the impressive graphics engine a little more variety may have been welcome. Sound effects are impressive with voice acting used for communications between the soldiers and decent sounds used for the gun effects.
Ghost Recon Island Thunder is a technically impressive game which is let down somewhat by the concessions that had to be made for a portable version of the franchise. It offers authentic squad combat on the go however and looking past the short span of the campaign mode, one of the more solid games available for the N-gage today can be found.