Back in the Xbox One/PS3 days, the Ghost Reconvfacet of Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy gaming empire was synonymous with hardcore team-up tactical play. As the years rolled by, the series went to the wayside along with Splinter Cell — and until recently — Rainbow Six. Now Ghost Recon makes a grand return with Wildlands, which infuses the open-world, nature-set gameplay of Ubisoft’s Far Cry with the traditional command-and-conquer rhythms of tactical Clancy shooters. The result is a visually breathtaking affair that has a shot at recapturing the hearts and minds of grisly, headset-wearing gamers who thrives on these games a decade ago.
Games: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Release Date: March 7
Story has never been a strong suit in Ghost Recon games, but the dev squad at Ubisoft Paris has definitely spent some time binge-watching Narcos on Netflix. A lengthy pre-game cinematic soaks you into the 1980s Colombia-inspired world that is the game’s near-future Bolivia. A megalomaniacal, face-tattooed drug lord named El Sueno has taken over the country’s underworld and politics, fusing them together to make the country a rogue narco-state that flips the bird to first-world society, which teems with customers hungry for its coke and heroin. The only way to confront this kind of crazy is with authoritative, head-on violence. Tat’s where you and your crack (pardon the expression) team of ghosts comes in. You’re dispatched to pick apart El Sueno’s empire piece by piece, paralyzing the drug-churning machine from within.
Veering away from the adversarial team multiplayer that drives so many Clancy games, Wildlands is all about the main campaign. You can hook up with other players online in a seamless, in-game interface that has you jump into established co-op sessions at will or allow others to join yours. Missions are sprawling, open-ended affairs with countless ways of approaching them and taking them down. Whether your style is stealth, gadget-driven or guns blazing, you’ll find that your options are limited only by creativity. One attempt at breaking through a stronghold might have you taking out guards with a drone, and the next will have you distracting a guard as a teammate busts down the door with a stolen dirtbike. You can play through the campaign, talk to a buddy who has done the same, and swap stories of entirely different experiences that are so diverse they hardly seem to have come from the same game.
Even though the game is grounded in real-world technology and tactics — along with an incredibly detailed series of environments, structures and backgrounds — the pace of play is as freewheeling and forgiving as an arcade game. Borrowing from the sensibilities of Just Cause, you’ll find yourself flying through the scenery with improbable ease. Vehicles roll through vegetation as though it’s not even there. Walls collapse at your whim and choppers launch and land without much argument from neighboring trees. You can grab ahold of a vehicle, launch off a mountainside, roll over and keep on rolling as though you had simply jutted over a speed bump. When you find yourself hemmed in and peppered with bullets, you’ll find yourself sprawled on the ground for a few seconds until a teammate makes his way over to inject you with a health-restoring injection.
You wouldn’t think a campaign-driven shooter would explode with replay value, but Ghost Recon Wildlands is such a sandbox-like affair that it begs to be revisited over and over. You and your friends may find yourselves having taken down a mission, only to come up with theories of other things to try that excite you enough to want to double back and take it on again right away. If you’re more interested in slugging it out online in team-based multiplayer, you may be disappointed with this entry and prefer sticking with Rainbow Six Siege or The Division. But if Far Cry and Just Cause are more of your flavor, or if you’ve burned through both seasons of Narcos and are hungering for another taste of the front lines of the war on drugs, Wildlands is a place you’ll want to make a point to visit for a while.
‘Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands’ Around The Web:
“Looks like one of the more compelling titles of 2017.” –N4G
“The beats feel quite familiar, and perfected along similar lines.” –VG24/7
“I just wish that there was more flexibility in what you could tell them to do in order to make it a little more realistic.” –Tom’s Hardware
‘Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands’ Screenshots
The publisher provided a review copy.
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