Tom Clancy, well Redstorm Entertainment anyway, have been busy chaps these past few years. Not only have they managed to pump out a quality Rainbow Six 3 with major structural updates, but along with that the franchise has almost released three Splinter Cell titles as well. Their latest work is Ghost Recon 2 and while on the basic side of things they have kept the same structure for the game, like Rainbow Six 3 they decided the consoles needed their own specific gameplay mechanics and have built the game from the ground up with stunning results.
The storyline behind the game is actually played retrospectively. Throughout the game as you progress through missions, you are taken through a military television show, apparently revealing the Ghosts as a military unit for the first time ever. The actual storyline is that they are sent in to stop a war before it happens, but once you begin the game you begin to wonder just how that is due to the massive explosions etc going on around you. Dropped behind enemy lines in North Korea, it's up to you to get the job done, and some of the jobs are incredibly tough.
As mentioned before there has been some major changes to the way the game plays. First of all you now only have control of one squad, and not only that you only have control of that commander for the entire game. Instead of being able to directly control and maneuver each character, you give them commands to perform tasks such as move forward, hold position or attend a wounded character. Keeping these guys alive is your main priority because the more you have with you, the easier tasks are going to be and they can cover your back but considering the magnitude of some of the tasks, not even that may be enough to succeed. Missions include taking out a line of tanks, through to clearing out an airfield. The thing with Ghost Recon 2 is, your troops are on the front line where you expect infantry to be and that for the Ghost Recon fans may be hard to swallow.
Like Rainbow Six 3 there is also a great deal of character development and you actually feel bad when a character is wounded or even killed on the battlefield. They all have individual voices and looks and during the cut scenes come across as a really close team, which is perhaps why when a soldier goes down you do feel like a bad commander. Also like Rainbow Six 3 you can't choose their load out, only they can do that but each soldier seems to have an all round pack of equipment by default like you. You can't use enemy weapons but throughout the missions you will find crates which will replenish your ammunition and considering some of the missions are quite lengthy, these are important.
Ghost Recon 2 is really two games in one. The first 'game' is the squad based combat but in some missions (and you can also play a game mode called Lone Wolf individually) you will be alone with the latest and greatest military technology such as camera scopes which allows you to guide a gun over cover not revealing the commanders body to the enemy. We found these missions much more enjoyable and a great deal more challenging and considering that once each mission is complete you can try them out alone, adds a great deal of replay value to the title.
One other change from Ghost Recon is that the entire game is set in one country. This is in stark contrast to the first game where you traveled the world. However it's not all bad news. There is a great deal of variety of missions and locations which you visit and each have varying degrees of challenges. Sometimes you will be ambushing an enemy during the cover of night and other times in the middle of a warzone with explosions going off and fighter jets flying overhead. The game looks great and exactly what you expect from the missions which you undertake. All the characters are individually modeled and the commander even moves his hand when giving commands for the true military feel.
The soundtrack is the typical espionage style you expect from Clancy games and the voice acting is really quite good, especially during the missions via communication devices. One problem sometimes is that you can hardly hear the communications when explosions are going off but this is a minimal problem and can be overcome. The game also features a very in depth online component for Xbox Live and features both co-operative and adversarial gameplay online.
Ghost Recon 2 may have had major changes, but they have been for the better. Ghost Recon was not a bad game but what Red Storm have done this time around is definitely more action packed and the online play really tops it all off to make Ghost Recon 2 one of the best tactical shooters of the year, if not the best.