Ghost Recon is a series that’s very dear to me, a franchise that I’ve spent far too many hours playing since first stumbling across it on the original Xbox. I love the tactical aspect of the original Ghost Recon games, and having recently played a few missions once again, it reminded me of just how much fun those games were back in the day, and still are today.
Today, I’m definitely a Call of Duty addict and have great fun with its single player campaigns. Where else do you get so much non-stop action full of explosions while hundreds of enemy combatants are unloading clip after clip at you? That’s all great and fun, and I certainly love it too. However, what made Ghost Recon so great and why I still love it today is because of missions exactly like the first one. There might have been a total of 20 guys only on this one huge map, which is something that’s totally different than what we see in our shooters today where maps are somewhat smaller and can have over a hundred enemies. But only 20 guys on one huge map? How boring is that, right? Well, no. It’s not boring. It’s actually exciting, intimidating, and even a little bit scary. One shot can kill in Ghost Recon. I can’t just run up behind a car or tree and strafe out to kill a guy, because chances are he’ll shot me first. Ghost Recon forces players to take their time and even quickly peak around a corner with a peak button, at which point players still aren’t safe from being shot.
There are no shields or health regeneration packs, there is only a peak button. How awesome is that? Peekaboo! I see you!
Playing through the original campaign again today for the first time in years is quite simply nerve-wracking and even frustrating. I’m so used to the shooters we see today that I forget about things like needing to perfectly plan my approach and making sure I actually clear every room before moving on. I got shot because I accidently forgot to check a corner. I got shot even when peaking around a corner. But shouldn’t the peak button make me invincible? No! This is good old-school tactical shooting fun! One of the corners I got shot peaking around also had a window view that looks outside, meaning I could look in. I need to remember angles and different approaches because these things matter most in Ghost Recon. Last time I played Call of Duty, I simply ran out into the middle of the map and maybe even jumped off a building in front of multiple bad guys, killing them all. It’s arcade action, and it’s still fun, but I want more tactical satisfaction that Ghost Recon provides. Heck, I’d be happy with a Ghost Recon HD. Come on, Ubisoft!
Ghost Recon is even more amazing while playing with friends. Whether players are enjoying a game of co-op or player-vs-player matches like Siege or Team Deathmatch, it’s all fantastic. Co-op is great because players get to use a lot of those same strategies they experienced during single player with their friends. Co-op is so much fun because of voice communication by talking strategy with friends.
The voice communication became even more important when playing the multiplayer matches.
I remember getting Xbox Live for the first time and heading online to play siege. I would take it so slow before realizing that this would be a completely different battlefield than what the single player campaign offered. Sure, it’s still strategic in many ways, but like a lot of shooters, the pace of the online game would be increased.
That’s a lesson that turned me into a nearly unstoppable beast. Sure, I knew the game and its maps inside and out (yes, out. As in outside the map glitches). I knew typical patterns players would take. I knew it all. But the reason why the Ghost Recon multiplayer was loved by so many and hated by others is because only half the people figured out that it’s an entirely different game online and that people need to communicate to keep those with good shots under control.
I felt bad for the new guys that were expecting the same fun and excitement they experience in the single player missions to roll over into the online multiplayer. This is before spawn zones were off limits to the other team or spawn timers existed. I knew how to quickly get to a spawn and pin down people inside, though most of the time I would just shoot them right when they respawned. That’s not a lot of fun for those on the receiving end of that treatment. It probably gave Ghost Recon’s multiplayer a bad name for a lot of people. It’s not that they weren’t good, but they probably never had much opportunity to become good, especially when playing people like me (again, I’m sorry!!).
That was also a time where clans became really big. I joined a team that played a lot of matches all the time. We lost a lot at the beginning, but that taught us better strategy and communication. It didn’t matter how good of a shot I had if I didn’t use good strategy and communication in a clan match. My favorite moments in Ghost Recon are the clan matches, because of the great competition it provided. We took it very seriously too, so our entire team knew everyone’s positioning on every map. We knew almost exactly where to look if a teammate was shot. We always had one player watching another player’s blind spot. It’s simply exciting, and it was exciting to begin learning those things and playing in clan matches for the first time.
Siege was such a great game mode to play online. Remember, the maps are huge in this game and players never knew which direction the enemy was coming from until they were on their doorstep. So having to protect a base and not knowing which direction the enemy was approaching from was a lot of fun. In many ways that’s why it’s such a great mode.
There really needs to be a new Ghost Recon that simply enhances on all the great things that the original offered, but especially with gameplay and atmosphere.
Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 is the last Ghost Recon game I truly loved when it came to the multiplayer. It was still at the right speed and didn’t advance to far beyond that of which the Recon fans adore. Ghost Recon: Future Soldier broke hearts, though. Sure, I still found ways to love it because it’s Ghost Recon by name. I learned to deal with new devices on the field that affected situations and even had a lot of fun using them, but I couldn’t get over the horrendous running from corner to corner. It screwed up so many situations where it became hard to get off a wall if I was defending. It was also hard to shoot a guy coming right at you using the super speed, wall-to-wall running. It just screwed up the flow of the game and the series overall. I think they should have used gameplay very similar to Advance Warfighter 2 and then placed in some of the new devices within that.
I remember hearing the plans of making the Ghost Recon games more modern to compete with the new popularity of recent first-person shooters. It seriously felt like I was playing Gears of War in some situations of Future Soldier. I still liked its single player campaign alright, but the multiplayer bit the dust. The developers completely forgot about what made Ghost Recon so good to begin with. It wasn’t the (at the time) popular first-person shooters, it was the unique style of tactical gameplay that came from the original games.
I’ve been playing Ghost Recon Phantoms lately, which is why all of a sudden I have this urge to bring up past memories of the Ghost Recon series. You can find my article on Phantoms by clicking this link.