Developer: Red Storm
Release Date: March 13, 2004
Buy 'GHOST RECON: Jungle Storm': PlayStation 2
The Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series of realistic military shooting games have had worse luck on the PS2. First was the impressively bad Ghost Recon that hit the PS2 in late 2002, which raised the bar for most worthless and annoying gameplay modifications to be featured in a ported title. Then the long-awaited Ghost Recon: Island Thunder was given the axe and never even saw the light of day on Sony’s console. Now this. Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm isn’t technically a port of an existing game in the series, but it might as well be because it liberally “borrows” missions and maps that were already featured in previous Recon games released on other platforms. Diehard fans of the franchise will probably be more tolerable of Jungle Storm’s lack of originality and glaring multiplayer deficiency (no voice chat), but armchair shooting game buffs need not apply. That is unless frustration, and boredom are things that you enjoy.
PS2 owners may not have been able to get a taste of the Island Thunder Ghost Recon game, but the story elements here are very similar to that game. You’ll fight through a war torn version of post-Castro Cuba in the year 2009. To counter the current clout of terrorist activity in the area, you and your team of America’s deadliest special forces unit, the “Ghosts,” must battle through incredibly hostile jungle and mountain enemy terrain. Of the game’s 16 included missions, only 10 are actually new. These new missions drop you into the thick of things in Colombia, an up-until-now never-before-seen geographical location in the Ghost Recon series.
But other than that it’s pretty much business as usual in Jungle Storm. It is played from a first-person perspective and the game’s pace is quite plodding compared to most other titles in the genre. You’ll command two teams that are both part of your squad, each of which contains three soldiers. The Alpha and Bravo teams, as they are known, under your direction, must successfully complete an assortment of different objectives like rescuing hostages, securing important locations, retrieving vital enemy data, or eliminating mercenaries. Like all Ghost Recon games, Jungle Storm rewards diligence and patience, while it unmercifully punishes those who attempt to run headfirst into enemy territory, guns blazing. Only one soldier can actually be controlled at a time, and you are free to switch between them whenever you choose. Your five teammates do a pretty good job dealing with various situations and changing tactical circumstances; if anything, Jungle Storm has a solid AI system.
While those that have played any of the previous Ghost Recon games will be hard-pressed to find much that is new here, Jungle Storm does make an effort to differentiate itself a bit from its predecessors. Voice recognition via a USB headset is now included, and it works surprisingly well. Now you can switch characters and give your teammates orders simply by speaking into the microphone, which actually streamlines the proceedings considerably. Smaller changes include an on-screen indicator that lets you know how visible you are to enemies, and a slightly revamped area map that makes ordering teammates to a different location a bit easier than it was before.
The most exciting feature of Jungle Storm for most will no doubt be its online functionality. Up to eight people can hop online and get in on the action simultaneously. Plenty of different styles of play are available, too. Expect the requisite multiplayer modes, such as online co-op against computer-controlled opponents, last man standing, and deathmatch – along with some interesting new additions like the domination-style Hamburger Hill, and the everybody-against-one mode aptly titled “Mouse Hunt.” The online experience is pretty smooth, with only occasional hiccups here and there, but Ubisoft’s decision to not include voice chat support in multiplayer makes working as a team needlessly difficult.
The visual presentation in Jungle Storm is nothing special, it falls somewhere between decent and disappointing. Perhaps more towards the latter. Like the original Ghost Recon on the PS2, the environments, backgrounds, battlefield objects, and texture quality across the board are all sub-par, featuring a minimal amount of detail and maximum repetitive flat-ness. Luckily, the character models stand above the rest of the game’s lackluster graphics with well-detailed camo, weapons, and faces. It’s been nearly two years since Ghost Recon reared its ugly head on the PS2, so the fact that Jungle Storm does virtually nothing to improve or otherwise enhance the series’ visuals on the system is just unacceptable.
The sound in Jungle Storm seems lifted directly out of the original Ghost Recon, as well. Most will agree that the sound in Ghost Recon was adequate, however – so this isn’t too much of a disappointment. Sound effects for everything from the rustling of grass or dirt beneath your crawling soldier, to the aural emission of stray gunfire or high-power explosives sound appropriate and believable. The voice work in the game is about the only new facet of its audio arrangement, and for the most part it is well done.
Fans of the Ghost Recon series whose only option to play the games is via a PS2 should find a few things to like about Jungle Storm, assuming those people also enjoyed the original PS2 version of Ghost Recon. The online multiplayer component is a fairly entertaining diversion, and the handful of new missions fit flush with what players have come to expect from the series. But the game’s shoddy visual presentation, rampant recycling and annoying lack of online voice chat are glaring shortcomings that are hard to overlook. Overall, Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm just doesn’t bring anything new to the table or do much to attract new recruits.
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