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Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Red Storm Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4/2 - 16 Online
Genre: Shooter/ Squad-Based/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike is billed as a stand-alone expansion rather than a sequel. In truth, this is probably a true statement since it doesn't expand on Ghost Recon 2 that much. Though, with the number of single- and multi-player modes offered, as well as a few smaller additions, Summit Strike feels like more than a mere expansion.

Weather effects are the only real additions in the area of graphics. These effects also go a long way towards adding a much deeper and more dangerous atmosphere to the game. Rain, snow and sandstorms show up in nearly every level, as does fog and dust that cuts down on visibility. As a result, missions are a little trickier and take just a little more planning than in previous games. Other than the added atmosphere, everything else looks more or less the same as before, which isn't that much of a letdown considering that the series has always managed to rank among the Xboxís best.

Sound is much of the same; everything you remember from the Ghost Recon 2 is here. The only real changes to the format are a few new lines of dialogue. Your team is a little more talkative this time, especially after making a kill -- prompting a short cheer or brag. Music is, as always, a non-issue. During gameplay, the only "music" you're likely to hear is the buzzing of your squad in your ear and the sound of gunfire (provided you're not using a silenced weapon).


Gameplay:

On the single-player side, Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike offers an 11 mission campaign featuring your typical Tom Clancy story set against the backdrop of Kazakhstan. A Pakistani warlord with his sights set on taking over the entire country has the Kazakh president assassinated. This leads the Ghosts, in a concerted effort with the U.N., on a hunt to track him down and stop the eventual coup, as well as the assassination of other high-ranking officials.

One of the more noticeable improvements in Summit Strike to the Ghost Recon formula is that missions are much more open. One of my complaints about past games was that, even though you had some freedom, you were largely following a set path through a mission. Summit Strike changes this by giving you bigger maps and the option of tackling objectives in whatever order you choose. Granted, some objectives must be met before others can be executed; yet, I never felt like I was pinned into doing things a certain way. This also helps to make those unavoidable mission replays a little easier since you have more options.

Missions take place in a variety of settings. A majority take place in the snowy countryside of Kazakhstan, though there are a few urban missions as well. The variety of missions is handled nicely and even manages to throw in a few new wrinkles to keep you on your toes at all times.

For the multiplayer crowd, Summit Strike features the standard Ghost Recon Live experience. Twenty-four maps are included, some new and some favorites from Ghost Recon 2. As with the single-player missions, the variety of offered maps is well balanced and offers both open and closed battlefields. All of Ghost Recon 2ís multiplayer match types are included and joined by Armor Strike, which has opposing teams trying to take out each otherís vehicles, and Heli Hunt, a co-op mode where teams take out approaching helicopters. Of the two types, Heli Attack was easily my favorite. Armor Strike is good, but how much fun you have really depends on who youíre playing with given the amount of coordination required.


Difficulty:

Ghost Recon has never been a series that anyone can just pick up and play. While Ghost Recon 2 made a number of fantastic improvements that made the series much more player friendly, it still wasnít something anyone could get into. The same holds true from Summit Strike, due in large part to the mentality required while playing. If you want to just run around and shoot everything, this isnít your game; instead, you need to think ahead (sometimes two or three moves ahead) in order to get anywhere. Thankfully, the A.I. lacks the ability to not only think a few moves ahead, but sometimes even feels like itís three moves behind. To make up for this, their visual range isnít as hindered by the fog and dust as yours is; so expect to come across a cheap shot or two.

Game Mechanics:

The control and interface in Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike are unchanged from Ghost Recon 2. Veteran Ghosts will have no problem jumping into the fray and getting a handle on the controls. Its advisable that newcomers, or even players who are a bit rusty, go through the training scenario. Nearly every button on the controller is used, some in multiple roles depending on the situation, so it can be daunting at first. The good thing is that once you learn the basics, it becomes almost intuitive.

One other addition to Summit Strike is the new Special Forces rifle known as the SCAR, or Special Forces Combat Assault Rifle. I wasnít too impressed with the rifle, though itís a pretty handy little weapon given the number of ammo types it can handle. The multiple configurations donít hurt much either. As with the past games, itís best to learn which weapons work best in each situation you come across. Itíll make your job much easier.

Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike is no better or worse than Ghost Recon 2. If you enjoyed GR2, Summit Strike should definitely find itís way on your must play list. The formula is still the same, yet the additions are worth checking out. If youíve never played a Ghost Recon game before, Summit Strike is more of a rent first. Itís not the most difficult of squad-based shooters, though it does require a different set of tactics from your regular shooter.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Sony PlayStation 2 Graffiti Kingdom Windows Dangerous Waters

 
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