Title: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Developers: Ubisoft, Massive Entertainment
Genre: Tactical shooter
Official Site: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
Release Date: March 7, 2017
With the name Tom Clancy, there comes a certain level of expectation. You’re well aware that the game that about to be played will likely feature either a secret spy capable of killing an entire base full of people undetected or a group of American soldiers (with similar skill) who bleed red white and blue. These are why games are given the Tom Clancy tag, not because they are personally created and oversaw by the man himself, Clancy actually had little to no input outside of writing the books that inspired most of the games using his name. It’s a marketing tool for the most part. But in the past, that name also resulted in an expectation of quality. The Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six franchise are home to some of my favorite games of all time. Ghost Recon Wildlands just seems like a Ubisoft game that they wanted to sell using the man’s name.
Even with curbed expectations in regards to the game’s story, the characters it revolves around have no personality whatsoever. While character customization is fun, the four “Ghosts” that we follow or play as are either silent or spoke cliche dialogue that made me want to mute them. But to be fair, I would much rather hear dead air or their one liners as opposed to the radios in the game, because not only are they everywhere, the dialogue and music are horrendous. Obviously, the game is set in a foreign country, so having anything other than Bolivian oriented radio wouldn’t make sense, but I opted to go into the SFX setting and turn off everything.
While these elements certainly hinder the story, it doesn’t help that, like so many other Ubisoft games, there is a pointless amount of repetitiveness in the story. The Santa Blanca drug cartel is made up of a lot of interesting characters, especially the head honcho El Sueño, whose delusional approach to religion adds an interesting element to his character. And while the concept of taking out taking out his subordinates is nothing new, it had potential to be fun. But instead, most missions rely on going to a compound, taking out the guards, and interrogation someone or stealing something.
Though the lead up to Ghost Recon Wildlands put a heavy emphasis on teamwork and stealth – as the main characters are even called “Ghosts” – by relying on the Sync system, most situations just turn into a gunfight. I played a lot of single-player where it’s entirely possible (regardless of difficulty) to sit back and have the supporting three allies take out an entire base while I flew my drone around marking Sync shots. This would feel more satisfying if my teammates could be spotted by the enemy A.I, as many situations occurred where enemies literally walked through my A.I teammates, but since I wasn’t seen, my teammates weren’t either. Then there were situations where no matter how long I waited, Co-op or single player, there was no opportunity to take out enemies without one seeing them. Obviously putting out an enemy in a game is unrealistic and may take away from the difficulty, but the pathing in Wildlands is just bad.
Gameplay elements in Ghost Recon Wildlands, while passable, are not much better. As soon as I started playing I realized that the controls seemed a bit weird, as different actions were mapped to different buttons than I was used to for games in the genre. No problem I’ll just go in and change…ok there is no option to change the scheme, that’s fine, I’ll adapt. Then the combat issues started to come into play. Typically most third person shooters have a roll or dive ability as a way of dodging fire or rolling into cover, not only does Wildland not have that, the only way to get into cover is crouch. While that was frustrating, nothing was worse than being prone then sliding near a partition and immediately being pulled out of prone and into that cover, now within full view of enemies.
It’s one redeeming gameplay factor is the Sync system. The ability to line up multiple enemies, and take them down in one cohesive strike is awesome and satisfying. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more difficult to do that on the Co-op end of things, but I’ll chalk that up to user error. Ghost Recon Wildlands can’t get all the credit, though, as Splinter cell created the system long ago, and personally, I enjoyed it’s attempt better.
All of those elements, while annoying, were nothing in comparison to how uninspired Ghost Recon Wildlands’ world and the means in which I was given to traverse it. There’s absolutely no point to this game having the size of a map that it has, at least for the single player portion of the campaign. That nothing new to a Ubisoft game though honestly, as Assassin’s Creed games have been using the tactic for years, spreading useless collectibles throughout a big – yet still somehow empty – map as a way of lengthening the gameplay. Vehicle controls are so bad that it’s literally funny. While the helicopters, cars, and boats controlled about as well as Skyrim horses – even that is giving them too much credit – the bad driving actually did create a lot of surprisingly hilarious incidents, like rolling down a mountain in a jeep and being fine one second, then we are all dead the next.
Ghost Recon Wildlands’ one saving grace is in its Co-op. While the missions are repetitive, driving sucks and the gunplay is nothing spectacular, the game is a blast to play with friends. Riding through the terrain in a jeep, flying in helicopter shooting from above and arguing over Sync shots is great. The problem is that all of those things aren’t necessarily great because of the game, sure it’s the platform in which I enjoyed it, it’s because of the people I’m playing with. Even though it’s fun, Ghost Recon Wildlands is just the current game friends and I will jump into to mess around – just like Ubisoft’s other game The Division – that will eventually stop being fun, and we’ll move onto the next one. As a result, even though I experienced some fun, the game feels like a simple cash grab.
It’s a shame that a Tom Clancy game – and a Ghost Recon game for that matter – that had four years to be developed and had so much potential, ended up settling for complacency and was ok with being like so many other games in the genre before it. I’d recommend waiting for Ghost Recon Wildlands to go on sale before jumping on with a couple of friends and causing mayhem. Otherwise, you could find another game without the Tom Clancy name just like it just as easily.
- Gameplay: Uninspired at time, Sync System was fun
- Graphics: Not impressive on console
- Sound: Cheesy dialogue and unbearable radios
- Presentation: Fun with friends until the next Co-op game of the moment comes
- Awesome Co-op
- Sync is satisfying
- Stealth Is Pointless
- Unnecessary Single Player Open World
- Repetitive Missions
- Controls Schemes for Shooting, Driving, and Flying are Terrible
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