XBOX REVIEW: GHOST RECON 2: SUMMIT STRIKE

The hot August days and lack of quality releases got you down? I've got a great new reason for you to stay in air-conditioned comfort for the next days. Make that weeks. Summit Strike, a glorified expansion pack that is bursting at the seams with action packed content within a $29.99 retail package is exactly what the gaming gods have ordered.

Featuring 11 new single player missions (also playable online with a friend in co-op), larger environments, 24 multiplayer modes to select from, including 2 new ones - Heli Hunt and Armor Strike - Summit Strike has everything you desire in a Ghost Recon game and the end result is quite satisfying, save for a few areas in which both teammate and enemy AI is completely out to lunch. But we're used to that already.

Slimming down the entire operation awhile back, Summit Strike focuses deeply on either a four man team of Ghosts or Lone Wolf missions in which you'll only have your ass to worry about. Grounded in reality, Summit Strike doesn't allow stewn about fantasy medi-kits to heal you or floating chicken legs to bring you back from the brink of disaster. You are allowed to bandage injured teammates to half their health, but if they're hit again, someone will be calling their next of kin (although don't be surprised when the game inexplicably resurrects them in later missions). As for you, I'd suggest keeping your head down. Take one too many hits and you'll have to restart the mission. Thankfully you can save anywhere, but you'll want to keep an eye on your health before you do.

The games single player missions (playable in any order) involve searching for Asad Rahil, a Pakastani terrorist and your business takes you to the surrounding area of Kazahkstan where your primary goal is to eradicate the threat. Each mission has numerous objectives of varying difficulty which will keep you busy for quite awhile. Since the game environments have been expanded greatly over previous Ghost games, you might think that you'll have more freedom to experiment. In a sense that's true, but many missions still continue to have a right way and a wrong way to do them, which does make the game more linear than you might expect - especially if you keep failing one or two missions in particular.

Wide open environments also mean more danger has been programmed in. Gone are the days when a cleared area meant it's a safezone. Summit Strike will constantly surprise you by realistically allowing areas you've already been through to fill up with enemies who are filtering in via areas you aren't currently covering. You can cut the tension with a knife throughout the entire play experience and that's exactly the way it should be; I was always on the edge of my seat.

Improvements in the dynamic weather system and lighting have elevated Summit Strike to almost sequel like status, even though Ubi Soft maintains it's an expansion. Animation is well though out and attention to detail freaks will love that time was spent animating weapon changes, rather than pressing a button and having another weapon magically appear in the hands of your agent. You can actually see your character slinging the old weapon over his shoulder before taking possession of the currently selected one.

Controlling your character and the others simultaneously through various button commands is intuitive and the key to a successful mission. If you're a player who fumbles through trial and error when you should be using your mates to flank, you'll be pissed off with Summit Strike in no time flat. The game forces you to think as realistically as possible, but without the benefit of taking your time. Many of these decisions are instant as the terrain and threat changes constantly.

The multiplayer modes are a fantastic collection and many GR vets will recognize their favorites. Yes, they've made the trip. The 2 new modes Heli Hunt and Armor Strike are welcome additions and in the case of Armor Strike, thanks to it's co-op multiplayer status, has become a new favorite and time vampire. Armor Strike forces teammates to play together to take down waves of tanks and do what's best for the team. Taking the tanks down require one player to laser an armored enemy vehicle to call in an airstrike, while your teammates will have to protect you and your teams vehicles. Showboaters and heroes will ruin everything in this mode, so teamwork becomes an absolute necessity for survival. With 24 different modes and 25 maps to play them on, online players will be spending the next few months experimenting.

The only chink in the armor is the sometimes braindead activity of either your NPC teammates of the enemy. Most of the time it's to your advantage when the enemy stands up in the middle of a firefight and becomes an easy target, but you'll be flabbergasted when some dumbass NPC on your team wanders into the street when the bullets are flying or tanks are approaching and manages to get himself killed.

As I mentioned at the beginning, they could have easily called this Summer Strike, because it kicks summer right in the ass and allows you to stay indoors where it's nice and cool. Summit Strike is a fantastic piece of software and it goes without saying that the play value is off the map. Expect at least 12+ hours in the single player missions and then go wild with a friend playing them again on the net in co-op mode. Fire up XBL and you're good to go with all of those addicting multiplayer modes. If Summit Strike is any indication, the next gen Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is going to one heck of a wild ride. Buy this game the day it comes out and don't argue. It's great and you need to own it.

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System: X
Dev: Red Storm
Pub: Ubi Soft
Release: Aug 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review By Ken
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
5.0
Preview By Vaughn
 

I wouldn't call the last Ghost Recon 2 game a big hit by any stretch. Lovers of the first game found the third person over the shoulder perspective a little too "actiony" for their particular tastes. That doesn't make no nvermind to RedStorm. They're doing it again and this time, they're doing it better. At least that's what they're hoping the end result will be.

More than likely, Summit Strike will function more as a tweaked expansion pack than an all out original gameplay experience, simply due to the shortened development time. They expect to ship Summit Strike in August 2005.

Blending the best features from the previous installment with the talents of Ubisoft’s award-winning studio, Red Storm Entertainment, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 Summit Strike will expand the gameplay of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 to offer players more maps, missions, and weapons. With a SRP of $29.99, this will bring an exciting new eleven mission single player campaign and expanded multiplayer content to gamers who want more game play from one of the most popular franchises on Xbox LIVE. This will keep fans happy as they wait for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 3 – due out this holiday on current gen and next gen platforms.

Features:

  • More tactical approaches in each mission: Missions are open-ended, and contain multiple objectives that can be completed in the order that the player chooses. Objectives can be approached from several directions and different strategies can be used to complete each objective.
  • Experience new threats and challenges: There are eleven compelling single-player missions in which the Ghosts fight through some of Kazakhstan's harshest terrain.
    Extensive multiplayer content:
  • 24 multiplayer maps in both urban and rural landscapes, including some fan favorites from Ghost Recon 2.
  • 24 multiplayer game modes including all the favorite squad, solo, and co-op game types made popular by the Ghost Recon franchise.
  • New character skins including all enemy skins seen in the single player campaign, the Ghosts in snow camo, and International Specialists.
  • New multiplayer modes: In "Heli Hunt" players must neutralize waves of enemy helicopters that are hunting them through the map. In the squad game type, "Armor Strike" players race against each other to laze and destroy their opponents' armored vehicles.
  • More immersive environments: Expansive maps with new weather effects such as falling snow and sand storms create more realistic outdoor encounters.
  • Master 15 new weapons: including the SCAR (SOF Combat Assault Rifle), a Special Forces modular system entirely unique to the franchise.