Ghost Recon: Island Thunder
“Did you hear that? What! Listen carefully because you can hear the footsteps of Russian soldiers making their way around that corner. Snipers take aim!” This may have been a familiar setting for Xbox owners a few months ago as they were treated to Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, a game that surprisingly burst atop the must own list when it was released. This sudden trip to the top was because it simply defined the Xbox Live experience. Enter Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Island Thunder, an expansion pack, to give fans of the original more of the same heart pounding, squad based action.
You are once again commander of an elite forces group known as The Ghosts, hence the title of this game. This time, however, you won’t be fighting against a Georgian threat. Instead, Island Thunder starts two years after what took place in the first game and places you in a Cuban setting. Fidel Castro and his communism have since crumbled and a new democracy struggles to impose its ideals. There are elections to be held to determine the new ruling party and the Ghosts are sent to make sure it goes off without a hitch. So let’s take to the jungles to find out exactly why you should lace up the boots once again or more importantly, why you should shell out the $40 to do so.
Ghost Recon: Island Thunder (GRIT) is an expansion pack that gives you much of the same gameplay the original did which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the gameplay is as close to realism as many of us would like to get. The way your weapon recoils or the amount of time it takes to reload offers a stunning experience second to only the real thing. The squad control is the same and the team set up is also the same. Directing your team still consists of bringing up the map and setting the proper waypoints for your Bravo or Alpha team to head to. There are eight new missions for you to strike down your enemies that seem more or less like practice grounds if you’re a veteran of the original. There are new specialists and kits at your disposal so playing the campaign could be interesting if only to eliminate rebels with the new gear.
Strategy is key to successfully completing any mission because you aren’t allowed any power ups in GRIT. Ubi Soft was content on keeping the realism and they’ve succeeded once again. (there’s something about Tom Clancy and realism) It only takes a few bullets to eliminate someone or one good headshot from a 7.62 Carbine. This has to be the most impressive aspect of a Tom Clancy licensed title. You won’t spend hours trying to lower the health bar of the ‘main boss’ in this game. Your objectives are listed for you at the mission briefing so you’ll know ahead of time the proper directions to take and the target. With so much of the same going on, it’s hard to differentiate from the original Ghost Recon and give you new comments.
Visually, GRIT offers a slight improvement from its predecessor, which is still nothing to get you first prize in a beauty pageant. The textures have been smoothed out a bit but the overall environments are still lacking. I begged for a bit of interaction with the surroundings but there was none. There is still some work to be done to consider this game a graphical beauty. Don’t get discouraged, however, because the lack of visual shine is surely compensated for with the remarkable sounds this game produces.
Ubi Soft has developed a stimulating representation of real world effects/environments that will have you peeping around corners as if your mind is playing tricks on ya. True immersion is the only way to describe the gunfire, AI chatter, and ambient sounds. In fact, at any given moment you’ll be able to just sit there and determine which way an enemy is coming by listening to the footsteps. (5.1 Dolby Digital setup not included)