|Dev: Next Level|
|Release: November 16, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Blood, Language, Violence|
by Robert VerBruggen
Resident Evil. Dead Space. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon.
If this were a game of TriBond and you had to identify what the three have in common, the correct answer would be, "video-game franchises that forced Wii owners to settle for rail shooters while their friends got to play 3-D action games on next-generation consoles." The most recent of these, Ghost Recon, does some interesting things with the genre, but in the end, it's too monotonous and repetitive to be worth your time.
Like Dead Space: Extraction, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon has been promoted as a "guided experience" that pushes the boundaries of the rail shooter. That label fits this game better than it fit Extraction, but it's still a bit of a stretch. At any given moment during the game, you're most likely to be hiding behind cover and pressing a button to lean out and shoot, just as you do in classic rail shooters such as Time Crisis.
True, Ghost Recon gives you a little bit of freedom to move. You often have several pieces of cover to choose from, and you decide when to move on, rather than being pushed forward when the camera moves on its own. You can even shoot while moving between pieces of cover, or slide to avoid getting hit. If you're playing co-op, you can even split up your team to divide the enemies' fire. (If you play alone, the AI controls your teammate.) Nonetheless, for each position, it's just a matter of mowing down a few enemies and then moving to the next one.
That wouldn't be so bad if the developers had livened up this formula with interesting foes and levels and a great story, but no such luck. There are too few enemy types, and nearly all are exactly what you'd expect (basic soldiers that shoot you, guys with riot shields, guys with bazookas). Perhaps the most novel enemies are the engineers, who send explosive drones after you while they hide behind cover, but they're irritating to fight. The level design, meanwhile, pretty much just pushes you along a path with pieces of cover strewn about, with enemies triggering at various intervals. Sometimes it's hard to tell whether your game saved correctly. ("Wait, didn't I go through this part before?") And the less said about the story, the better -- some Russian ultranationalists are trying to invade Europe, you're trying to stop them, the end.
The presentation doesn't help matters. Pretty much every screen looks the same. This game is all weak textures, bland colors, and (mostly) bleak urban/industrial environments. Even the cutscenes fail to impress visually; they wouldn't have stood out even a console generation ago. The music is a mixed bag, with a few decent action-movie-style tracks, but also a cheesy instrumental that reminded us of arcade games from fifteen or twenty years ago. (Perhaps that was intended, but it's still awful.) The voice acting isn't too bad, but many dialogue clips ("Reloading!") are repeated far too often. Thanks to the weak sound effects, most of the weapons feel like BB guns.
To be fair, the developers did try to mix things up a bit in some levels, but unfortunately, these efforts fall right on their faces. There are a few shooting-from-a-vehicle sequences, but they merely entail aiming around and pulling the trigger. It's mildly entertaining, but it's hardly the kind of thing that will make a rail shooter feel fresh to a modern gamer.