Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon

Moby ID: 5557
Windows Specs
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Description official descriptions

The year is 2008, and Russian rebels have taken over Moscow in an attempt to restore the old communist regime. You are in command of The Ghosts, an elite military team and the United States' first line of defense.

Both single-player and multiplayer modes are available. In the single-player missions, you have an entire platoon of men at your disposal. In multiplayer, you command just one man, with the rest of your platoon controlled by humans instead of the computer.

Ghost Recon is a first-person tactical shooter. You can choose one of four characters: sniper, rifleman, demolitions expert, and support expert, with specialists being unlocked as you complete the single-player missions.

Spellings

  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Команда "Призраки" - Уничтожая зло - Russian spelling (Media-Service 2000)
  • Золотая коллекция хитов Тома Клэнси. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon - Russian spelling
  • 幽灵行动 - Alternate simplified Chinese spelling
  • 汤姆克兰西 之 幽灵行动 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 火线猎杀 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

147 People (134 developers, 13 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 55 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 80 ratings with 5 reviews)

Advanced AI, high realism, but is it fun?

The Good
Unlike others who had played other Tom Clancy games like Rainbow Six, this is the first Tom Clancy game I've played (bought at Office Max for $10, bundled with Island Thunder), so I can only compare it to the other special forces-based series I know, Delta Force. And what immediately struck me about the game was the amount of cooperation between you and your team. In Delta Force, nearly all missions have you going alone into a terrorist camp to kill several dozen terrorists all by your lonesome, and if you actually do have comrades along with you, they're highly scripted automatons that simply provide sniper over-watch at best, and get in your way and are liabilities at worse. In Ghost Recon, you control up to six soldiers (you can select less, I suppose, but that seems to just make you more likely to fail the mission), and you can switch between controlling any one of them directly (sort of like Sim Ant, to use a very old example), but you can also control waypoints (which the computer is smart enough to find a path if it's not possible to walk directly from point A to point B), stance, and how ready they are to advance, but I didn't end up using that last feature much because Advance at all Costs seemed reckless in all situations and Hold seemed worthless, since you wouldn't give them move orders if you don't want them to hold. That said, your soldiers follow your orders like Myrmidons, able to follow you up a flight of stairs without bumping into the wall, and actually firing back when an enemy is in range. It may not sound like much, but compared to the terrible friendly NPC AI in other games, your NPCs in Ghost Recon are geniuses.

Another big similarity between Ghost Recon and Delta Force besides the outdoors-based missions and foreign locales is the lack of soldier vitality. Whereas many other games make it so soldiers can take dozens of bullets before dying, in Ghost Recon and Delta Force it's usually only one or two, maybe three or four if it's somewhere non-vital and the gun's not that powerful. Of course, that and the lack of healing increases the difficulty of the missions, since neither enemy nor friendly soldiers can take much before going down. Delta Force solved the problem by making the enemy soldiers stupid and terrible shots. They'd wait 5 seconds before even looking at you, only rarely drop to kneeling or prone positions, and either walk towards you or open fire like they've got Parkinson's disease. Ghost Recon instead solved the problem by letting the enemy AI stay intelligent (they will sometimes slowly advance toward you like morons, but more often they'll take cover, kneel, or go prone, and they actually can hit the broad side of a barn at over 100 meters with an AK-47) and letting you have up to six, competent soldiers, which should in theory give you five more chances to finish the mission if one dies.

The Bad
However, this brings me to my biggest complaint about the game. Plenty of other reviewers can tell you the other things that weren't very good in the game, such as the small variety of kits, the lack of weapons models, the medium-quality graphics, and other such things. But what I really disliked about the game was the extreme frustration it caused. Worst of all, the soldiers don't feel expendable. And it was in this game more than ever that I realized how bad that can be. It's nothing new to be able to take named soldiers on missions, and if they survive, to let them level up and take them on missions again. I've already seen that in X-COM, to name a popular example. The trouble is, the soldiers develop just enough so they're better than raw recruits, but not good enough that they're more protected from harm. For example, a soldier with a Weapon or Stealth rating of 8 doesn't actually seem all that better than one with a rating of 1, one with an Endurance of 8 can maybe take one more pistol shot than another with an Endurance of 1 (and even then, they get wounded and lose combat effectiveness, which is more realistic, but can make them be a liability, like if a wounded soldier is unable to run), and as for Leadership, it's only briefly mentioned in the manual but in the missions I never saw any change whatsoever in the group based on leadership, and the manual mentions it so briefly that I never figured out whether I was supposed to have 1 per squad or per fire team, or if order mattered. However, the slight bit of difference that the increased stats caused made that soldier more important than other soldiers. Even worse were the specialists, who had weapons that regular soldiers didn't have, making them more useful in other situations, but impossible to replace. In short, the game made it so that you were punished by allowing a soldier with better abilities or weapons to die, but those abilities or weapons weren't enough to save them.

So, with many missions it went like this: I'd start the mission (On Recruit, because the game's frustrating enough even on the lowest difficulty), start on my merry way, and then something would happen that would kill one of the six troops. Now, I had to choose, should I try to continue the mission, or restart (or reload a quick save) and try to keep that soldier alive? With low-level recruits, I usually chose to continue, but with higher-level soldiers and specialists, it sometimes wasn't worth it to continue, because they had some ability or weapon that would be useful in later missions. So, each mission tended to be a torturous series of decisions where I was left choosing between going through the mission, perhaps ending with everyone dead but a single soldier (and be left without the option of using the high-level soldiers or specialists in later missions) or going entirely with recruits and never having the high skill and special abilities of other soldiers, which made the mission more difficult even though the soldiers were expendable. Or, most often, I would start with six soldiers, but as soon as one or two died, I’d restart the mission rather than continuing on, perhaps finishing the level, but never have the chance to use those dead soldiers for the rest of the game. With some levels, this went on to the point where I had to load or restart a dozen times just to finish the damn thing.

And I realized, that most of the time I was playing, actually wasn't having that much fun. Charging enemies usually just got my soldiers killed, cautiously advancing made my indicator start going red so I knew there were enemies around, but didn't know where (which was more nerve-racking than not knowing at all, and also added a degree of unrealism to the game, because last I checked there was no such thing as a "spider-sense"-like indicator that told the general direction of enemies with 100% accuracy, but went to a non-specific "danger mode" when enemies were close), or going very slowly and cautiously, which was more often than not simply nerve-racking, especially since my fragile soldier's body would fall to bullets if I didn't shoot quick enough. Then, if any of my soldiers actually did die, more often than not it meant I'd have to restart or load the game again, and go through the ponderous process again.

The Bottom Line
If there's one thing you can characterize about nearly every game ever made, and computer games in particular, their fun comes from making a player feel powerful. I didn't really feel that in this game, and though I finished it, I didn't have that much fun playing it. Even on the lowest difficulty setting, the soldiers are too intelligent and the controllable characters too weak, but that alone wasn't enough. Rather, the ability to have assistance and backup from AI teammates more often works as a liability since they're usually too powerful to be expendable, but weak enough (and dumb enough, since while their AI is comparable to the enemy's, they're certainly dumber than you) that they don't have a significantly lessened risk of being expended. So, I never really felt powerful while playing the game, and killing soldiers was more a relief that they wouldn't harm my soldiers than an enjoyable act. I also tried some mods after completing the main game, and don’t get me wrong, some of them are expertly constructed, with new missions, weapons, and settings, but they still weren’t very fun because none of them changed the essential dynamic of the game. So, if you're looking for a first person shooter that leans more towards realism than creative license, than perhaps this is the game for you. In fact, you might just as well use it to simulate actually being in the Special Forces, since it's close enough to reality. But, if you're looking for a first person shooter where you can have the opportunity to feel powerful and brave without the game punishing you for even trying, than perhaps something less realistic, like Delta Force: Land Warrior or Delta Force: Xtreme would be more down your alley.

Windows · by kvn8907 (173) · 2009

A polished, but regressive, tactical FPS.

The Good
GR puts the emphasis on sneaking about and staying hidden more than its counterparts, something I always appreciate in a shooter such as this. The game seems more similar to Sierra's classic SWAT 3 than to the other Clancy tactical games. Only here you're more liable to find yourself beating back bush in outdoor terrain than the close confines of a convention hall. The graphics are slightly refined, with the biggest improvement coming with those pesky tree textures that most games of this ilk seem cursed with. They're certainly a big improvement over the horrible visuals of Operation: Flashpoint. The missions are nicely varied as well, and are of a decent length so you don't have to invest 4 precious hours trying to clear one level. You can also save whenever you like, which makes things much less frustrating. Also simplified is the command scheme for controlling your teams. With a keystroke you can call up a map whereby you can send your fireteams to locations with different battle stances and weapons readiness. There's also a nice compliment of weapons....

The Bad
...which unfortunately you won't have instant access to. In one of the many limiting design flaws of GR, only specific team members can use specific weapons so you can't outfit your entire team with your favourite armaments. There are a lot of such limitations forced on the player, which ultimately gives Ghost Recon a feeling of going one step back in the genre instead of two steps forward. Even though in certain missions you are tasked with blowing up targets, you are unable to trigger the explosion in-game and it is automatically handled when the mission is over. And while the command system may be simple to handle, it also leaves out any advanced orders for your teams, like flanking maneouvers or target selection. Add to this the lack of a weapon view in first person and it all leaves the gamer feeling they're playing an unfinished product.

The Bottom Line
GR is definitely the best tactical shooter since SWAT 3, only with wider environments and military attitude. Also noticeable are the refined animations for the AI team. Crouching in a bush watching your teams advance is a real treat. And the sound is also a standout, using surround EAX touches to great effect. You won't do wrong putting this FPS in your sights.

Windows · by Ummagumma (74) · 2002

Too short, too simple

The Good
Ghost Recon is a lot like a cross between Novalogic's Delta Force series and Sierra's SWAT 3, you have to sneak around and pick your moments to act while trying to achieve your objectives. After completing a mission each soldier who participated is awarded 2 points to improve their stats(which start off very low) and completing some missions will unlock 1 of 12 specialists, these specialists usually have better/different weapons and much better stats. The levels are all very impressive, trees sway in the breeze, rebel camps have camp fires and washing hanging on clothes lines while another level has heavy rain, mud caked roads and fields, destroyed buildings and artillery that lights up the distant sky. Issuing orders is incredibly simple - just point and click on an overlaid map and the soldiers will either respond or you will get an annoying buzzer sound indicating it's not possible (no explanation will be given though).

The Bad
Overall the game is far too short, it's only a completely linear 15 mission campaign, the missions don't take too long to complete, usually about 5 minutes but will take longer if you try to make it through the game without losing any soldiers. It suffers from 'Delta Force Syndrome', you can complete each mission by taking your time, sneaking around the perimeter sniping everyone. Each soldier has a fixed kit selection with a fixed primary weapon and a variation of secondary equipment (more ammo, field glasses or a sidearm) so instead of giving your best demolitions soldier a satchel charge to blow up a bridge, you have to pick the demolitions soldier who has satchel charges in their kit selection. This also falls apart when the action starts, if this soldier is killed the mission automatically fails. Also, if you run out of ammunition you can't pick up an enemies or a fallen team mates weapon, this soldier then becomes useless. The specialists you unlock are far superior to any other soldiers that once you have unlocked two of them (usually after two missions) you don't need to use any other soldiers. The AI of team mates can be stupid at times, if you switch control to another team your previously selected team will often change posture which can lead to them being spotted and killed, plus they never even try to find any cover what so ever, they prefer to sit in the open rather than crawl into some nearby ground cover. Team members with an automatic weapon will often stand up while the rest of the team is crouch or prone and fire off 40% of their magazine in one burst, needless to say these team members tend to die first. The path finding is very bad, often team members will get stuck behind objects or just plain lost and you are forced to either go back and get them or change control to said team member and 'rescue' them. The enemies aren't much better, they will often stand upright in the open, firing bursts at you. They often stand perfectly still looking at a door way or a gap in some rocks, waiting for you to come to them only for you to come round behind them or shoot them in the arm the juts out. Often you will see the barrel of a gun or even an arm or leg clip through a wall or door giving away the position of an enemy, you then take your high powered rifle and fire a few rounds in the rough direction of the person attached to it only to find out your bullets don't penetrate anything but glass, this is truly bizarre considering how much effort went into making this game realistic. The sound/enemy detector is a nice feature but despite being a little crude (only places sounds in 90 degree zones) it makes the game too simple as it effectively tells the position of all the enemies. Issuing orders is all done in real time and is completely mouse driven which means no keyboard short cuts to speed up the process. Orders are only incredibly simple: move here, look in this general direction, only fire if fired on, fire at will or suppress any suspected enemies. These orders are far too simple for a so called 'tactical shooter'. Only one order can be issued to a team at any one time which means you have to either wait for them to finish the first order, or over ride it with a new one. You can't give more than one team the same order at the same time which means even longer that you are open to hostile fire.

The Bottom Line
Fun for the few hours it will take to finish it. Fans of Rainbow 6 might not like how it has been dumbed down but fans of SWAT 3, Delta Force should really enjoy it. It doesn't have the depth to be a lasting favourite but has some impressive features that will become standard in the future.

Windows · by Evil-Jim (145) · 2002

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Trivia

German version

In the German version, all blood effects were removed and killed enemies disappear almost instantly. The covermount version which was released on the German magazine GameStar 10/2006 is uncensored.

Awards

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon was ranked # 14 in the 50 Best Games of All Time list published by PC Gamer Magazine in its April 2005 issue.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Erik Niklas.

PlayStation 3 added by Charly2.0. Xbox added by POMAH. PlayStation 2 added by Corn Popper. GameCube added by Kartanym. Macintosh added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: Paul Budd, PCGamer77, Unicorn Lynx, Apogee IV, Corn Popper, AdminBB, Klaster_1, Patrick Bregger, 一旁冷笑, Zhuzha.

Game added January 3, 2002. Last modified July 15, 2024.