PC | 3DS, DS, PSP | Wii | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360 | Retired: GBA | GameCube |PlayStation 2| Xbox |

News | Reviews | Previews | Features | Classics | Goodies | Anime | YouTube



only search AE

 

Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Ubisoft

 

Developer

Red Storm Entertainment

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q3 2003

 

 

- Intense multiplayer maps and action
- There’s a liberal need for actual thinking and strategic planning to succeed
- Variety of soldiers and accompanying weaponry to fill you elite force’s roster

 

 

- Graphics can be very underachieving at times
- AI has its low-I.Q. moments
- Too few single-player levels don’t use the great plot and Tom Clancy storytelling touch to its fullest potential

 

 

Review: Splinter Cell (XB)

Review: Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance (PS2)

Review: Rainbow Six 3 - Raven Shield (PC)

 

Newsletter

Be notified of site updates. Sign-up for the Newsletter sent out twice weekly.

Enter E-Mail Address Below:


Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Island Thunder

Score: 8.4 / 10

 

ghost recon island thunder xbox review          ghost recon island thunder xbox review

 

Ubi Soft’s Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon has been one of the biggest selling titles for the Xbox to date, primarily for its stellar online capabilities over Xbox Live. Hot on the heels of the incredible success of that game, Ubi Soft has released a follow-up title -- an oxymoronically described “stand-alone expansion” -- Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Island Thunder (IT).

The game has a new Tom Clancy-driven storyline (unfortunately not delved into too deeply) revolving around the death of Fidel Castro and a politically unstable new Cuba in the year 2010 requiring the services of Ghost intervention for its single-player campaign missions. But with only a handful of new levels for single-player gameplay, it’s hard to call IT a “stand-alone” title worth $40US. Fortunately, the

Advertisement

 


 

- Xbox Game Reviews

- Shooter Game Reviews

- Games Published by Ubisoft

game earns its price-tag by yet again standing on its own as a multiplayer romp, providing some of the best online team, cooperative, or solo shooting game fun in any title on either a console or PC today.

Making a return tour of duty is a handful of the original game’s most popular multiplayer maps, which sort of explains the “expansion” in its description. Despite having a really

Advertisement

good premise for a story, the multiplayer gaming is what IT is all about. This is another game in the mold of Unreal Championship for the Xbox where the short single-player game is more of a practice facility to learn the game’s controls and jungle, desert, and Cuban urban street levels you’ll be playing while online.

Those single-player story missions come in real handy, however, especially if you are a rookie like myself that doesn’t have any experience playing the original game. IT, like the first Ghost Recon, requires a lot of tactical strategizing to control the two three-member Ghost platoons, Alpha and Bravo, which you order around the map. You must plan either one of both teams’ movements while personally controlling one team or switching between individual platoon members to successfully complete the mission. The ultimate goal on top of completing your objectives is to avoid sustaining any casualties, which isn’t always easy, especially on IT’s harder difficulty levels.

In addition to the strategy elements, there are just the basic controls of moving around and using weaponry that require some acclimation. Veteran first-person shooter players will become familiar with its control schematics rather quickly, but there are a host of controls to master for every button, trigger and control stick on the Xbox controller. You must be able to move, shoot, switch weaponry, reload, open entryways, use a binocular-like zoom (to see faraway landscape and roaming individuals), and stand, crouch, or crawl to avoid getting killed.

Featured in IT is some spectacular visual and sound effects on the flipside of some disappointing graphical weaknesses, especially considering the award-winning renderings seen in another Tome Clancy game, Splinter Cell. The environmental visuals on the varied levels are not anywhere near standard Xbox quality, with too much blurring fogging effects used to compensate for the game’s poor anti-aliasing capabilities.

 

ghost recon island thunder xbox review          ghost recon island thunder xbox review


However, there are a few graphical touches of greatness. IT’s soldiers are well detailed. Not Splinter Cell excellent, but really good nonetheless. That’s important too, because there is a huge squad of elite Ghost members to select from, and an even bigger total to unlock, each with a specialized skill such as demolition expert or sniper, to differentiate between. Most have distinctive weaponry, providing a vast assortment of options when putting together a platoon for a particular mission. Having an array of Ghosts with a big selection of weapons to equip them with carries over into multiplayer game setup too.

Even better than the character detail is the amazing weather effects and environmental sound effects. Seeing convincing rain falling with supporting lighting and thunder sounds is simply marvelous. Sound throughout the game is exceptionally used. Background noises such as birds chirping or planes flying overhead exponentially add to the dripping realism of IT. One particularly impressive object sound effect is in the abandoned town prison. When you move across the rustic scraps of metal strewn all over, you make a very noticeable creaking sound. On this map in multiplayer matches, paying attention to the sounds of the creaking metal make it easy to place your enemy in the room and target him for a kill shot.

IT’s challenge level in the single-player campaign doesn't always example the smartest AI in the jungle. Enemy AI reacts more attentively and aggressively on the higher difficulty settings, but overall can be shaky. The game seems to assign each enemy a specific perimeter that controls his reaction to your platoon’s actions. If you move into an enemy’s perimeter, he will react by taking cover, shoot at you before you see him, or counter-attack. The problem here is that you can engage an enemy in his perimeter by shooting at him. He will react to your fire. But an enemy in an adjoining perimeter that logically should be able to hear and/or see his fellow enemy soldier being attacked will illogically not react at all until you actually invade his perimeter. Recognizing this behavior makes it easier to defeat enemies, but takes away from the accurate military fighting simulation IT can be in most instances.

A uneven AI doesn’t matter at all over Live for multiplayer IT gaming, where you square off against infinitely-smarter-than-AI ( in most cases that is) human competitors. IT’s online multiplayer action is the game’s meat and potatoes, a fact that the game’s developers and publisher isn’t afraid to admit. IT is designed to be a solid multiplayer title first and foremost. There’s an incredible amount of online multiplayer modes to partake in too. Four cooperative games, five team games, and four solo games give Xbox Live IT players plenty of first-person shooting choices to enjoy.

Included in IT is a wide selection of great multiplayer maps borrowed from the single-player game and carried over from the original game. The maps aren’t small either. Just when you thought that one couldn’t be any bigger, you discover a branching path to even more areas of a map. The fogging anti-aliasing effect does crop up in multiplayer games though, sometimes making finding an enemy particularly troublesome with sometimes deadly results for you.

I wouldn’t consider scooping Island Thunder unless you are a Live subscriber, because as good as the game’s story and single-player missions can be, there’s simply not enough levels and gameplay here for going solo. However, IT continues in the footsteps of its predecessor by providing an exceptional multiplayer experience that not many games can match today.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(September 7, 2003)

 

Digg this Article!  | del.icio.us 

Advertise | Site Map | Staff | RSS Feed           Web Hosting Provided By: Hosting 4 Less

Affiliates:

 - CivFanatics-   - Coffee, Bacon, Flapjacks! -    - Creative Uncut -      - DarkZero -     - Dreamstation.cc -   

 - gamrReview-     - Gaming Target-    - I Heart Dragon Quest -    - New Game Network -

- The Propoganda Machine -    - PS3 : Playstation Universe -     - Zelda Dungeon - 

All articles ©2000 - 2014 The Armchair Empire.

All game and anime imagery is the property of their respective owners.

Privacy Statement - Disclaimer