Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon
As Wii interpretations of HD console franchises go, Ghost Recon isn’t so bad. Ubisoft could have tried to replicate the regular Ghost Recon games, shovelling as much of its bombastic squad-based shooter onto the Wii as it possibly could, and it might have paid off. But it also never would have been as good as the real thing, always falling short of what series fans expect. So, instead, Ubisoft has tried something completely different, an on-rails shooter that falls somewhere between arcade lightgun game and big budget third-person shooter.
It takes a bit of getting used to at first, as there’s really nothing else quite like it on this console or any other. Though your character and his AI/player 2 controlled ally run along a fixed path, it’s you the player who is in control of when they stop and start. Fixed points along the path denote the places where the two of you can stop to take cover and you simply point at them and tap the A-button to get there. This gives you a little more control over the action than you would usually have in this sort of game. Do you want to stay in one place, picking everyone off but risking death as every enemy slowly takes aim at your position?
Would you prefer to quickly dart from point to point, taking a few enemies down at each junction? Or will you settle for a mixture of the two, mopping up any stragglers by spraying a few bullets off as you move from one bit of cover to the next? The choice is yours and it’s an oddly liberating one. Despite the semi-arcade approach, there’s still a bit of strategy to be found here, mostly in the way you interact with your team-mate. The AI controlled partner is smart enough that he can be left to his own devices and will happily pop in and out of cover to take down those enemies that you’re too lazy, or too rubbish, to deal with, But he also has his own health bar, which the enemies will rapidly chip away at if you allow him to do all the work.
You can administer a health pack or two simply by aiming at your pal and holding the appropriate button, but you have a limited supply of these so it’s best not to let him take too much damage in the first place. Just about the only thing that lets Ghost Recon down is a distinct lack of character or fun. The Wii already has its fair share of lightgun style arcade blasters – see Sega’s incredible Ghost Squad for the finest example – and these games excel at regularly throwing big, bold set-pieces at the player as well as keeping the pace tight and exciting. They offer a quick-draw sensibility that’s big on reflexes and quick wits while Ghost Recon prefers to plod along at a more pedestrian pace and with a more sensible tone.
You won’t find any giant bosses here, nor will you find a bonus mode where the enemies are replaced with girls in bikinis, the guns with water pistols. You wouldn’t expect a Ghost Recon game to do anything like that, of course, but we would expect it of an on-rails Wii shooter. Which leaves us in two minds. On the one hand this is an impressive re-appropriation of the classic Tom Clancy franchise, and uses the Wii technology well, but on the other hand it just doesn’t get our blood pumping like a good game of Ghost Squad, LA Machineguns or House Of The Dead Overkill.
It is a game displaced from its natural home and in a crowded genre that it simply cannot compete in. As such, it’s worth a look out of curiosity but certainly not before you’ve sampled the delights of the previously mentioned trio.