Tom Clancy games have changed somewhat over the years, but how will the Ghost’s handle the transition to a free-roaming environment.
I’ve been a fan of the Clancy games for many years now, Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six and of course, Ghost Recon are the backbone of the Clancy name, and while Rainbow Six moved to a more Multiplayer focused experience with Sieged, Ghost Recon takes on the free-roaming world.
It’s a bold step, one that Metal Gear Solid seemed to handle with ease but I have to admit I was somewhat apprehensive about how well Ghost Recon would make the switch, without everything starting to feel a little too Just Cause or Mercenaries. Initially from the beta, I got a giant whiff of Mercenaries, but thankfully my views changed quickly once I got my hands on the full game.
I’m not sure about you, but I’ve never been to Bolivia, but on my first visit courtesy of Ghost Recon, I was tasked with rescuing some guy from captivity. Carefully I approached the area in a car, before pulling over and taking to the bushes to sneak up closer. Hidden from sight I released a drone to survey the area and spotted about half a dozen enemies. It all seemed pretty straight forward and we proceeded to take them down with deadly accuracy until one walked around the corner at the wrong time, it would have been easier to panic, but my well-trained unit of AI team-mates had me covered and the stray soldier was taken down in an instant.
Soon enough we had freed our target and bundled them into a nearby car, just as enemies were alerted to our presence. A quick journey later, I noticed a helicopter nearby and we quickly changed vehicle before making the short trip to the extraction point.
It was at this point when I realised how well Ghost Recon has made that transition, from scripted A to B ventures to voyaging across the open world, handling dynamically changing situations like a well oiled machine.
Once you get a little further into the game, you’ll soon realise the scope of things to come, like the best open world titles Wildlands is absolutely packed with things to do and collect, missions alone will take most people 20-30 hours, and that’s if you don’t spend half the time retracing your steps to find collectibles or introduce your friends to the inside of a helicopter.
You’ll notice I said friends, because Ghost Recon continues the tradition of allowing (and in this case) promoting co-operative play. Gaming online with friends always has the tendency of turning a helicopter ride into a test to see who’s unlocked the parachute, or seeing how much noise you can make before you’re all pushing up daisies, however there’s more than enough opportunity to take things seriously and handle missions with more adept and cunning than the SAS.
Purists will find an arsenal of weapons, attachments, unlocks and abilities, which can greatly change the game, work towards a stronger resistance to bullet damage and dealing more death, or go for better planning by enhancing the range and battery of the recon drone, maybe you’ll stick to performing tougher missions under the cover of darkness and will want to open up night vision and thermal vision as soon as possible.
There’s no end to the options available, and especially with friends, there’s plenty to shout about, but unfortunately it’s not all perfect, I found Helicopters great fun but notoriously difficult to control, and there’s an uneasy repetition to many missions making it feel like your running to a location to free, find or open far too often, followed by a standard snipe from distance the next. When you can immerse yourself, especially with a group of friends, it’s near perfect, but alone things can start to feel a little tiresome. Sadly the open world aspect does take away the pre-defined set-pieces and blockbuster moments that would otherwise perfectly suit the genre.
Another negative could be the camera control as it sometimes feels a little odd with the switch from third person to first person, but this was easily rectified in the options which neatly allow you to maintain a third-person view for firefights, likewise with sniping, I felt somewhat limited with certain scopes, but playing more, exploring more and my good friend google quickly helped me find something more suitable, there’s also an uneasy delay in camera swing when you’ve adjusted our view with the right analogue stick, meaning quick vehicle getaway’s are usually after the initial crash because you couldn’t see the van, rock, house right in front of you.
As you’ve seen from the accompanying screenshots, it’s safe to say Ghost Recon Wildlands is absolutely gorgeous, there seems a slight mismatch at times when vehicles seem to feel more GTA stylised while the surrounding environments go for more photo-realistic vista’s, but that’s really splitting hairs. Time and time again I was impressed by the view, the surrounding environment and the atmosphere of the rigid, hostile and dangerous stretches of Bolivia.
Some have asked me about map size, and you’re not going to have any marathon sessions getting from A to B, especially in a helicopter, but it’s well spaced out, meaning you’re never too far from the action, yet there’s enough wilderness to keep yourself out of trouble.
Audio is another area that’s good, almost annoyingly so, there’s plenty of surrounding noise and it’s mostly incredibly atmospheric with banter between your fellow comrades, chit-chat of the enemies and the whisper of the wind as you sneak through the overgrowth. Sadly though, there’s far too many radio’s in Bolivia and I can’t say I’m a fan of Bolivian music at all, It’s probably very accurate, but if that’s the case I think the UN need to take down a few radio broadcasts or send over some foreign aid packages full of TV’s.
Next up is Multiplayer and as mentioned previously there’s plenty of options to party up with your friends, from the main menu there’s no mention apart from an overlay pop-up alerting you that you’re connected, but in starting/continuing a game you’ll pass the lobby screen which allows you to jump into a game solo, join public matchmaking or set your squad privacy to either friends or invite only.
It makes things incredibly simple, and I love it when you can make a start on recon while you’re waiting for your squad to get online, and they can jump into your game without distraction ready for the assault. There’s also a very smart friends list which shows your friends as well as recommendations for players with a similar style, and even those who play at a similar time of day to you. It’s a well thought out, and well implemented system, but many will miss adversarial options from previous titles.