Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm Review

Cuba, 2010.  A revolution has been building amongst the people.  The smell of democracy is in the air as free elections are promised.  However, there are those who would stifle this newfound freedom.  That’s where I come in.  I am a Ghost.  I am the one who will protect this freedom.  I will ensure the elections.  I am the worst nightmare of those who would stifle the revolution.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm is a first person shooter set in this future.  While played in the first-person perspective, it is not a shooter as much as it is a tactical simulation.  Does this style of game translate well to the PS2?

While the graphics in Jungle Storm won’t win any awards, they are still give you the feeling of being on the island and in the jungle.  The landscapes are varied, with buildings, rock formations, hills, and different types of foliage.  The rocks and hills have muddy textures, and the polygon count on these objects is rather low.  Plant life includes bushes, small ferns, and tall grasses.  This adds a nice variety to the landscapes.  Unfortunately, trees and plants are the toughest objects to create in any game and these don’t look very realistic close up.

One particular mission will take you to a pier with boats, crates, and storage buildings.  Since these objects are square shaped, they are easier to render using this engine.  Crates and storage containers are scattered about.  The buildings have bathrooms, beds, and shelving units, but are otherwise fairly empty inside.

Little touches to the environment help add to the game.  A house in the middle of a battle zone will have a missing door with the window shot out.  A sink covered with algae will be in one corner, with a table and a broken chair in the other.  Columns in the front of the house will have bends in them.  A machine gun turret will have sandbags placed in front of it.  A watchtower will have steps leading up to the top, circling around it. 

The members of your squads have different outfits.  Camouflage will be the most common, but others will be covered with brown or green cloth strips.  While there isn’t a lot of variety, these little touches help immerse the player in the game.

Terrorists don’t have camouflage, but they are dressed in clothes that you would expect.  Most of the time the player will be so far away that he won’t be able to see the terrorists without a high-powered scope.  Soldiers and terrorists hold their weapons realistically, and it’s easy to tell which weapon is being used.  Everyone is well animated, and it’s easy to tell the soldiers’ stances just by looking at them.

Unfortunately, the low polygon count really distracts from the graphics during the game.  While the attention to detail is great, the low polygon count never truly emerses the player in the action.

The graphics are disappointing while giving orders as well.  The map for the command interface has only two zoom levels.  When zoomed in, the map is terribly pixilated.  This makes it hard to tell what is land and what is rock formation.

Since stealth is the primary focus of the game, sound is crucial.  When running through the fields, steps sound quicker and louder.  Crouching causes the steps to be slower and quieter.  Being prone to the ground will cause the entire body to slide across the ground.  Each movement will cause the grass to slide across the uniform.

Gunfire rounds shot at you will make you duck for cover, literally.  Being able to hear where that gunfire is coming from is crucial.  The positional audio gives you an excellent idea where the enemy fire is being shot from.

While there isn’t much music in the game, the music in the game is very well done.  Most of the music is heard during briefings or loading screens.  A patriotic feeling flows through the music, with a hint of majestic chivalry.

When a soldier is injured, you will hear heavy breathing to simulate being injured.  Unfortunately, it is so loud it is more annoying and distracting than helpful.

Control is rather complicated for the game.  Jungle Storm uses the dual analog control typical for most shooters.  Square switches weapons, circle reloads, X toggles the night vision, and triangle performs an action.  Pushing down on the right analog stick will zoom in your weapon, while R1 fires the weapon.  The up/down directional buttons will change the stance, and the left/right directional buttons causes the Ghost to lean over.

Hitting the L1 button is where things get interesting.  This will bring up the command interface.  This brings up a map that allows the player to issue commands for his squad.  Using the right analog stick will move a cursor to set waypoints, change how aggressive the squad will be towards enemies, and how aggressive the squad will move.  The player can also select which character to control on the field.  Unfortunately, the player must do all this while holding down the L1 key.  While some commands are easy to issue, some of the advanced orders will make you feel like you need to have three hands to issue them properly.

Those with a headset will be able to issue commands while pressing the L2 button.  The manual contains the voice commands, as well as a help screen within the game.  Unfortunately the game suffers from the same problem as the recently released Lifeline.  While some commands issued are recognized instantly, some commands aren’t recognized properly.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I would care for this type of squad-based sneaking shooter.  I’m more used to the “you against the world, kicking butt and taking names” kind of FPS.  The gameplay does have its compelling moments, but it falls short at times.

The single player area contains several options.  First, a tutorial is available to start the game out.  The tutorial helps the player get used to the controls and the command interface.  It is set up as a training ground for the military, which really helps set the mood for the game.  Tactical exercises are available to help the player learn some basic combat skills.

The campaign is the major portion of the game.  These are missions intended to be played in a specific order.  Advancing through this portion of the game will give soldiers combat points that can be assigned to build up their statistics.  There is a plot going through the campaigns, but they really don’t feel like much more than just separate missions linked together.  However, selecting soldiers in this portion of the game is crucial.  The game will pick out a default grouping if needed, but as soldiers take damage, they will become a detriment to the mission.  Characters aren’t healed as they go into the next battle like other games, so the importance of stealth and not being shot is magnified.

Quick missions are available as they are unlocked in the campaign.  These quick missions use the maps in the campaign, but they have different objectives.  A Mission-based quick mission is like playing through that map in the campaign.  Firefight missions have a squad going through the map and eliminating all enemy soldiers.  Recon missions have enemies scattered throughout the map, but require the squad to move from the starting point to an extraction point on the other side of the map without losing anyone in the squad.  Defend missions pit a player against enemies throughout the map with the object to keep the enemies out of the base.

Jungle Storm also includes several multiplayer forms.  A split screen mode is available.  All of the quick mission game types are available in this, as well as a Survival mode, which is basically a deathmatch.  However, Ghost Recon also includes online play through the broadband adapter.  A large amount of game modes are available.  There are cooperative games, team games, and solo games.  Cooperative games have several players compete against bots.  These modes include Mission, Firefight, Recon, and Defend, which were explained in the quick mission section.  Four team games are available.  Two teams are formed in each team game.  This mode includes Last Man Standing (last team with players alive win), Search and Rescue (three hostages in the center of the map need to be escorted back to the home base, and the team that rescues the most hostages wins), Hamburger Hill (a team attempts to be the only team to have members in a zone and will get a point for each second in that zone, with the team having the most points at the end of the game winning), Domination (three zones are spread around the map, and the team that owns a zone will get a point for each second it owns the zone, with the team having the most points at the end of the game winning), and Siege (which is similar to the Defend mission).  Solo games are every man for himself.  The solo games are Last Man Standing (last person alive wins), Sharpshooter (person with the most kills at the end of the game wins), and Mouse Hunt (a cat and mouse game where the player making a kill turns into a mouse and the other players hunt the mouse, basically a game of “tag”).

The Jungle Storm campaign will take your squad through Cuba.  Winning the game will require stealth and sniping.  Charging through the game and attacking will send the soldiers a quick and early grave.  This gives the game a slow pace.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to see an enemy unless the soldier is practically on top of the enemy, even using the zoom function.  A threat indicator and enemy fire indicator help to locate where enemies are located, but sometimes resorting to the map is the best way to find enemies.

The squad seems competent most of the time.  Squads will take out enemies and cover other squads while in combat situations.  However, their pathfinding skills leave something to be desired.  Assigning a squad to head to a waypoint can be futile because they don’t know how to get around a rock.  The soldiers in the player’s squad will follow the player around, but won’t move out of the way if the player tries to backtrack.

The enemies in the game aren’t that smart either at times.  Sometimes they will stand around as you shoot their buddy, looking around waiting to get knocked off.  They also like to stand in the middle of fields, rarely taking cover.

The multiplayer is also limiting, as Jungle Storm supports up to eight players with a fast broadband connection, but mostly up to six players.  A lot of options are available, but unless you have a group of buddies to plan a session with, it will be difficult to find people to play online with.

A lot of modes are available with the game, but the campaigns will be short for an experienced player.  Although quick missions are available after they are unlocked, they use the same maps as the campaign.  If someone has already played Ghost Recon, this will feel like more of the same.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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