If the latest installment in Tom Clancy’s never-ending
chronicle of military-influenced videogames, “Ghost Recon:
Jungle Storm,” is any indication of the direction Ubisoft
plans on taking the franchise, it seems that it’s about time
to head back to the drawing board. Unfortunately, a series with so
much initial potential and drive has failed to evolve.

Recollections of the original PC version of “Ghost
Recon” back in 2002 reveal a taut, stealthy adventure of
cat-and-mouse. The game played similarly to another Clancy
namesake, “Rainbow Six,” and, in that respect,
“Jungle Storm” is still a pleasant distraction. Gamers
are put into the shoes of a team of up to six military specialists
called the Ghosts. With each character assigned a different task
— snipers, riflemen, support and demolition — the
Ghosts are given missions that vary from simple assaults to more
difficult reconnaissance and rescue operations.

The gameplay is where “Jungle Storm” truly succeeds.
With missions that are less realistic but more direct and boasting
simplified controls, “Jungle Storm” is easier to get
into than those games that share a similar theme, such as
Sony’s “Socom II: U.S. Navy Seals.” Novices to
the genre can be completing missions almost immediately while
advanced gamers can fully exploit the control system to their own
advantage, setting up diverse strategies of engagement and
attack.

“Jungle Storm” is also a game that prides itself on
using stealth over blistering action. Gamers who blaze out into
open territory are more likely to miss easy shots and will get
gunned down a lot faster than those who plot their moves carefully
and slink through the underbrush. It’s here where the game
shows the benefits of being reworked and refined over time.

Where “Jungle Storm” falters, however, is when it
comes to its actual presentation. Though the gameplay has been
ironed out throughout the transitions, the graphics have remained
pretty much untouched. Generally, the visuals are blocky and poorly
rendered with textures appearing smeared and pixilated. Strangely,
load times are surprising long for levels with surprisingly simple
geometries. Character animations and artificial intelligence are
terrible, resulting in stuttering movement and predictable enemies
that have trouble navigating levels without walking into
obstructions. A game that prides itself on stealth and realism
should ask more from the capabilities of its engine and seek a much
more engaging realm in which to play.

It would be nice to see the “Ghost Recon” moniker
retired with this title. It’s had a fine run, but Ubisoft
either needs to rework the game to bring it up to speed with the
other games of its genre or they need to be looking to a new Tom
Clancy adventure for inspiration.

 

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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