Ghost Recon is one of the many series under the Tom Clancy brand. It is a tactical military shooter following The Ghosts, a special operations unit. While the Tom Clancy brand was first conceived as loose adaptations of books, Ghost Recon was not. But the series did have a tie-in novelization in 2008. It has sold over 40 million copies throughout its 20-year lifespan, making it one of the most successful franchises. Today, we will be looking at each game in the series, breaking down the gameplay and story, and seeing how it evolved. And, of course, it will be in chronological order for your convenience.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon (2001)
Ghost Recon is the first game in the series and centers around the United States Special Forces Unit, Ghosts. In single-player, players can use commands to dictate the actions of their team. In multiplayer, players have three game modes to choose from: Firefight, Mission, and Recon.
Firefight tasks teams by taking out certain enemies randomly located on the map. Mission is the co-op version of the single-player campaign. Recon is getting from one location to another to reach the extraction point. The game was a commercial success, selling millions of copies, and won multiple industry awards.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Desert Siege (2002)
Desert Siege is an expansion title to Ghost Recon (2001) and takes place a year after the war in Russia. Conflicts erupt when Eritrea and Ethiopia begin arming themselves as Ethiopia wishes to reclaim Eritrea, which they believe is their land. The Ghosts team is informed that Russian arms dealers have secretly been supplying the Ethiopian military. After a plea for help and an overtaken government, The Ghosts arrive to stop Colonel Wolde from overtaking the country.
The expansion was purchasable to players but was an unlockable campaign only on the PlayStation 2. At release, it gained a positive reception from fans and critics alike. It was seen as a great addition to Ghost Recon and tells an interesting story.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Island Thunder (2002)
Island Thunder takes place two years after Ghost Recon and one year after Desert Siege, with Fidel Castro dying and Cuba being freed. However, in the country’s first free election in over five decades, one group is out to return Cuba to a dictatorship. The FDG makes Ariel Prigeo their main candidate, using him as a frontman for their organization. The party is an anti-US faction that does whatever is necessary to return Cuba to its former glory. It’s up to players and The Ghosts to infiltrate Cuba without raising the alarm that the United States has its hand in the country.
The title is an expansion of Ghost Recon (2001) and was met with positive reviews. For every mission players successfully complete, they can earn combat points. Points allow players to upgrade abilities like damage, stealth, endurance, etc. In addition to the Jungle Storm expansion, Island Thunder sold over a million copies worldwide.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm (2004)
The final expansion to Ghost Recon (2001), Jungle Storm, follows The Ghosts again as they head to South America. Taking place after the events of Island Thunder, the drug cartel funding the FDG return, the FARC. After the Colombian government allied with the United States, the FARC issued a number of terrorist attacks. The Ghosts head to Colombia, where they meet the MFLC, a militia group. Before they can cause too much chaos, The Ghosts have to stop the spread of the MFLC and restore order to Columbia.
The expansion was met with mixed reviews while selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Although it may not be the best expansion of Ghost Recon, it offered an engaging story in new locations. The game eventually had its servers shut down in 2011.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 (2004)
Ghost Recon 2 is a direct sequel to Ghost Recon (2001). The game features a new graphics and physics engine while adding more options for multiplayer and voice commands. Taking place on the Korean Penisula, players control team leader Scott Mitchell. The gameplay offers a lot of variety, with players able to choose weapons and items from any class. Some missions will require players to go in alone, without the help of other Ghosts members. The multiplayer also features several modes to choose from, including Firefight, Garrison, Recon, and more.
Depending on the platform of your choice, the storylines will be different but still take place in North Korea. Both plots center around a potential war breaking out in Asia after the Korean People’s Army staged a coup and took control of North Korea. The game was a critical and commercial success, selling over 1 million copies. The North Korean government also criticized it for its depiction of their country.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike (2005)
Summit Strike is an Xbox exclusive and a standalone expansion for Ghost Recon 2. Set five years after the events of the base game, The Ghosts are sent to the Middle East to take out the terrorist Asad Rahil. Rahil is a Pakistani arms dealer who, through his corrupt contacts, begins selling weapons to the Kazakhstan military.
After the President attempts to stop the dealing, Rahil bombs him and his security council, killing everyone. Rahil then begins reigning destruction down on civilians, releasing chemical gas into the air and killing hundreds. The Ghosts need to restore order before a civil war breaks out. At release, the expansion was met with very positive reviews and is seen as a great addition to the base game.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (2006)
Advanced Warfighter follows the standard Ghost Recon formula of saving hostages or getting from point A to B. However, the game is based on the Future Force Warrior program, which is designed to integrate advanced technology into soldiers’ equipment.
Players could now use the Cross-Com System, which used the in-game map to command friendly units. By locating enemies and threats, you could direct units on how to proceed and deal with the issue without having to do it yourself. It was also more forgiving than previous releases, as players can take multiple shots without dying. The game was a critical and commercial success, selling over 2 million copies in the first six months.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (2007)
Taking place after the events of Advanced Warfighter, the game takes place over the span of three days. Tensions between Mexican rebel groups and the U.S. Army rise as more unrest spreads around Mexico and South America. However, due to treaties and lack of support from Congress, the Ghosts cannot cross the border into Mexico. The game was met with positive reviews but was criticized by Mexican governor Jose Reyes, who claimed it was insulting to Mexico.
The gameplay is very similar to its predecessor, with players fighting, assisting units, and controlling drones and tanks. The Cross-Com System from the first game was brought back with improvements, allowing for more control and options on friendly units. The A.I. was also improved to make them more aware of their surroundings and listen more to player commands. Also, the PC and console versions offered different missions and mechanics that made the games play out in opposing ways.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Predator (2010)
Predator follows the Ghosts as they search for an unknown assailant who murdered U.S. mining crews in Sri Lanka. The gameplay is similar to the Xbox 360 version of Advanced Warfare 2. Players control three squad members, choosing between one of five classes, and can freely swap between characters. The addition of dynamically swapping characters meant more creative and engineering gameplay. However, its release was met with mixed reviews.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon (2010)
Ghost Recon follows the Ghosts as they stop a Russian regime that has invaded Scandinavia after a coup places Alexandr Treskayev in power. The game is a Wii exclusive and utilizes motion controls and sensors for aiming. It is meant to be played in co-op with another player, as there are two main protagonists. Players who do not have a second player will have an NPC substitute that helps them along the way. It received poor reviews at release due to an unfun experience and poor weapon control.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (2011)
Shadow Wars is a turn-based game exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS. While it does play similarly to other games in the genre, it separates itself by including elevation into the combat. Being high or low behind cover made a difference in what characters could do, making it distinct. While critics praised its gameplay and campaign, the multiplayer and the game’s cliche characters were lacking.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (2012)
Expanding more on the futuristic setting in Ghost Recon, Future Soldier adds more features like adaptive camouflage and extensive weapon customization. Players can also control drones to mark and scout locations before moving ahead. The plot follows a Ghost Recon squad as they stop weapons trafficking in Nicaragua. The multiplayer featured several game modes but was shut down in 2022.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Phantoms (2014)
Phantoms was a free-to-play multiplayer shooter released exclusively for Windows. Players would choose from one of three classes and battle against the enemy team with a variety of objectives. Despite free-to-play multiplayer games being popular today, the game failed to meet expectations and was shut down two years after release due to low player count and negative reviews. The game also features an in-game shop with add-ons totaling over a thousand dollars.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (2017)
Wildlands sought to return to the original setting of the first Ghost Recon game, ditching the futuristic setting first introduced in Ghost Recon Advanced. It is the first game to introduce an open-world concept to the series, complete with terrain, day and night cycles, weather, etc. It is one of the largest open-world games developed by Ubisoft and allows players to go about missions as they see fit freely. The game sold more than 10 million copies, making it a commercial success, but it received mixed reviews at release.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint (2019)
Breakpoint is an online-only tactical shooter following the story of Nomad Perryman. The Special Forces operator is sent to the island Auroa to gain intel on Skell Technolgy, which has been causing disturbances in the area. The release was a commercial disappointment as fans criticized the game for its mission design and addition of NFTs. The game failed to meet sales expectations and shut down the servers two years after its release.