Ghost Recom: Island Thunder Review

Developer: Red Storm Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: August 5, 2003 Also On: None

Ubisoft originally created 3 Ghost Recon games for the computer. They were Ghost Recon, Island Thunder, and Desert Siege. These games are all available in one pack on 3 different discs for about $80. Here is where Xbox shows its true colors. If you were to buy Ghost Recon and Island Thunder now, it would only cost you 60 dollars for all three. How would you get three games if you only buy two? Xbox Live offers the Desert Siege levels in downloads on the Xbox Live. All five of these levels will be available by the end of 2003. Ghost Recon: Island Thunder, although only a basic upgrade, still brings the fast actions and strategic gameplay to life better than anyone else around.

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Island Thunder may look the same when you are actually playing it to the original on Xbox, but there are a few changes that you may not really pay that much attention to. Characters have more detail than the original ever did. Now, you see that the characters are carrying their equipment on their belts and have many pieces of equipment on them. There are more vehicles in the levels now that most of them move. You cannot drive these vehicles, however, it is a nicer touch to see bad guys driving up in cars to try and attack you instead of trying to charge at you Napoleon style and just get pummeled by a shower of your bullets. There are still major flaws in the graphics. The frame rate slows up still when firing rockets and when thee are explosions in the area. Plus, there still is a lot of fogging that occurs in the level that really gets annoying and hard to see the enemies in a distance. This does not really cause too many problems, but if there were to be a next Ghost Recon, we would like to see this changed.

Ghost Recon: Island Thunder still includes the breathtaking sounds of the original. With 5.1 Dolby Digital sound found only available on the Xbox, it truly magnifies the intensity of these sound effects when played on a surround sound system at home. Gun shots still seem as real as they ever did and actually echo in the mountainous levels. You can here footsteps in the grass or people in the water when close nearby enemies or the people in your own group. This allows you to gain the advantage over your enemies and hide somewhere in the bushes waiting for them to make a wrong move. Voice acting is still not too great since it gets really repetitive, but the man who brings the Intel works perfect still for Ghost Recon. This is still above average for most military type games that lack the dialogue.

The easy gameplay and squad base tactics do not change at all in Island Thunder. Players of the original will feel right at home and others who have just pick up the game will not have a hard time trying to learn them. Enemy A.I. has improved a little bit, but they still do make some stupid mistakes that make them easy pickings. For example, when they drive up in the cars, they have no defense and you can pick them off before they even make it to you. Your squad A.I. still doesn’t improve and they still sometimes stay in the same spot when commanded to go somewhere. The battle A.I. of your party improves as they actually try and take cover when trying to fire upon the enemy. It is still very exceptional for the game.

The Xbox Live play still drags everyone into Ghost Recon. It still is the best online experience available for the Xbox Live. For only $30, ($40 with a $10 Mail-In rebate inside the box) it is well worth the experience. There are 8 different levels spanning through vast jungles, run down cities, and lush mountain sides through the post-Castro era in Cuba. There are 5 downloadable desert levels to get from XBL by the end of 2003 that will add to the experience making this $30 game seem like it should have been $50. With 12 multiplayer levels, 4 from the original game that the fans voted on, Ghost Recon still brings it all to the table for your Xbox and Xbox Live. Go and pick this one up today. For only $30, how can you lose with this outstanding game with upgrades on the original?

Graphics: 8
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 8.7
Written by Shawn Review Guide

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