Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Island Thunder
System: PC   
Publisher: Ubi Soft   
Developer: Red Storm
Released: 2002
Genre: Squad Based Shooter
Capabilities: Online play via Ubi.com

Review Written: November 17, 2002

Ghost Recon was a decent squad based shooter on the PC. It had some noticeably buggy AI, and some other major problems, but it still ended up as an all right shooter in my opinion. In early 2002, the first expansion to Ghost Recon, Desert Siege, came out which supposedly patched up a few bugs and other AI problems, as well as include extra single player missions. In this second expansion, Island Thunder, more AI problems and more missions are promised for us. Enough of my crappy intro, letís take a look shall we?

Everybody took care of Russia and everything is good to go from the last game, but now thereís big trouble in little Cuba. Fidel Castro is now 137 years old with his communist regime as powerful as ever. Itís up to you, the almighty US Top-Secret Division #35284a to knock them out.

Assuming you played the first Ghost Recon, youíll be safe to know that most of the controls are still in tact. The training missions from the first game are still included so you can get use to anything you forgotten. GR keeps most of its acclaimed realistic aspects in tow such as manual reloading, and keeping a low stock of weapons. The same command cluster also returns, and itís still a bit tricky to use. Your squads will go to locations where you tell them not to, and at times you feel like you want to throw your monitor in a rage!

The AI of your comrades is just like the original, in other words, itís still as bad as Speed 2. Just as how they left Keanu out of the sequel, they still left out that good AI of your troops the developers at Red Storm has been promising us. Yes, your almighty, top ranked sniper, decked out in the state of the art camouflage will do his usual walk out in the open; get gunned down by an enemy nowhere to be seen. I take Aspirin #1 in frustration.

One nice thing to know about the new missions in Island Thunder is that the areas have a bit more wide open space, and more objects to dodge behind in heated confrontations. That same realism is here, where one well placed shot will leave you down for good. Most of these come from the well concealed snipers in Island Thunder. The GR tradition continues where most of the foes will be well hidden, and will take a while to find before you advance. While fans of Ghost Recon applaud for the boost in realism, I yell ďscrew youĒ as I take Aspirin #2 after dying damn near ten times before completing the first mission.

One minor improvement is that Island Thunder now has a few missions available for you to start practicing in Quick Mission mode right off the bat. You still have to beat all of the eight new missions to unlock them for use any time Quick Mission mode, but itís nice to know whenever you want hone your skills on the war front, thereís always a few missions from older games up for the pickings.

The best inclusions in Island Thunder are the addition of five new maps designed exclusively for online play. These new maps are fun as hell to play, but if the multi player support for Ghost Recon wasnít so lousy. I havenít been growing too fond of GRís online gaming service, Ubi.com. Lately, itís near impossible to get a game going. Youíll get lots of disconnects and drops right away in game play, and this lousy interface for Ubi.com doesnít help one bit either. Red Storm should take a page out of Blizzardís battle.net service as I take Aspirin #3.

Island Thunder runs on the same requirements as the first Ghost Recon. This is mostly due in part to most of the recycled graphics from the previous two installments. Little things have been improved, like the already great character models have more detail to them. Other than that, everything more or less looks the same as before. One thing Iím still ticked about is the fact you still canít see your weapon! Iím still trying to figure out why they donít have graphics up for any of the weapons during game play. Is it too much to ask for Red Storm to stop sitting on their asses and fix this?

Oh yeah, remember how in past games where if you saved your game, you couldnít manually load it from in game menus, but had to wait a couple minutes in loading times by quitting out of the game and doing it from the main menu? Yes, itís still that way, hereís an Emmy to Red Storm on ďlack of hearing gamers inputĒ as I take Aspirin #4.

The sound is also mainly recycled from the previous titles. Your soldiers give you the same acknowledgments youíre use to hearing as you command them through the missions. All the gunfire, ricochets, and bullet wounds sound the same as before. Another set of background music play while you navigate the menus in Island Thunder. This little song will grow on you as you, and matches the tone set in GR.

Each of the eight new missions that Island Thunder throws at us will take about a good hour to beat on the average. So donít expect a long, in-depth single player experience. If you can get by the clumsy interface, then expect to log in plenty of hours in online multi player. The new multi player maps included are well worth your time to check out.

RATINGS

Graphics: 5.1
Sound: 7.0
Game play: 4.1
Replay Value: 5.7

Overall: 5.4

Tom Clancyís Ghost Recon: Island Thunder doesnít fix the main gripes I had with the first game, and itís a damn shame. The eight new campaign missions, and five new multi-player maps may not seem like much at all, but itís reasonable enough for a $20 expansion pack. So unless youíre a hardcore fan of the series, youíll want to avoid this expansion, as well as saving some money on the pain it causes.

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