We live in a twisted and unfair world, a world where videogames usually arrive on the PC in complete alignment with their creators’ visions. However, those of us stuck with consoles are eventually shoveled some hollowed out husk of a port, bereft of anything that made the PC incarnation innovative, unique, or requiring even the basest amount of brainpower. Contrary to that particular rule, Ubisoft has achieved a feat of Nostradamic proportions: they’ve actually accomplished this in reverse order. They’ve taken what might shape itself to be a respectable PC title and served it up, moldy leftovers first, to the console demographic through Ghost Recon 2.
I’ve been a fan of all things “Clancy” since the original Rainbow Six emerged on the PC, only to see their console brethren arrive resembling little more than something that rides the short bus to school every day. The Clancy console ports often had sub par visuals, despite being newer, and lacked a number of features common, or even defining, towards the experience. Subsequently, those original PC games, whose basic premise revolved around preparation, team selection, and strategic, painstaking execution, devolved into mindless firefights. The original Ghost Recon endured the same birthing pains when it arrived on consoles, continuing the alarming trend of sporting worse graphics than its PC peers. Even multiplayer elements – a staple of their PC counterparts – were inconsistent and lacking altogether in some instances. But Ubisoft heard the cry of fan-based indignation and listened intently to its guiding direction as it poured due love into Ghost Recon 2. Or so we thought.
By making Ghost Recon 2’s graphics somewhat prettier, Ubisoft has also done away with the wide-open landscapes and made the experience a linear, almost on-rails shooting gallery. They’ve also damaged the frame rate so that it skitters along about as smoothly as a biking adventure through the Alps. Previously immersive strategic plotting of waypoints and maneuvering teams of two or three into covering or flanking positions has been dropped to an arbitrary point-and-click ?go-there, kill-that’ interface with one team of four. Aren’t sequels supposed to build on a game’s original formula, not deconstruct it? Reducing Ghost Recon’s original nine man squad to a single indistinguishable and inseparable team of four may well have been designed to make you care more about each member, but the personnel in question lack the personality to promote such a response. In fact, these guys are little more than a diversion for the enemy – if, that is, the enemy even notices them. Even when a squad mate is in plain sight between the player and an enemy, the enemy will often ignore them and gun straight for the player; not to mention their freakish firing accuracy at almost any distance. It’s called AI and play balancing. Have Ubisoft ever heard of them?
Now, whatever previous editions of Ghost Recon have lacked in bot intelligence could be compensated for easily with multiplayer content, allowing live players to grab the proverbial reins of a squad member. If nothing else, a co-op mode seems like a no-brainer for a game designed around teamwork. Nope! Forget about it. There’s no co-op feature here – online or off, and the only online modes are variants on standard vanilla adversarial modes like Last Man Standing and Team vs. Team. Also, if you haven’t gotten with this whole newfangled Internet thing yet, then you’ll be playing all alone as no split-screen modes are included either.
The sound department of Ghost Recon 2 is fairly competent, if not particularly great. Guns fire, guys yell when shot, things blow up – standard aural fair that gets the job done. Period. And based on MyGamer’s stringent scoring chart, that rates about a 5.
The game’s newly added over-the-shoulder perspective is awkward and takes some getting used to. It makes proceedings feel weird, as well as not doing an especially good job of representing the reality of given situations. For example, on occasion your character’s torso will obscure the third-person view of the action, and you’ll end up wounded by crossfire after simply attempting to maneuver into a more advantageous shooting position. Also, despite the third-person aiming reticule having a sure line of sight to the target past a covering boulder, firing a rocket is evidently a bad idea as it fails to clear the rock – blowing your entire squad straight to hell. Fantastic.
Yeah, as far as new gadgets go, there’s a camera gun in Ghost Recon 2 that allows you to fire around corners. Big whoop! So many things in this game are either unpolished or retarded that it’s hard to care about the subject matter. The PC version of the sequel comes out later this year and, despite my love for the original Ghost Recon (I play it almost daily), it must be said that this reviewer isn’t getting his hopes up. It’s games like Ghost Recon 2 that make you wish for a personal year-long hibernation, after which all the crappy videogames in the world will have been magically fixed. Never fear, SOCOM II, your crown is still quite safe as the premiere PS2 military-themed shooter.