Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2
Ask the guys in cammies and combat boots; Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon will make you a virtual veteran. "One U.S. Army Special Forces soldier told me the game's tension and lethality blew him away. I've also had the privilege of playing cooperatively with Marines," brags Designer Christian Allen, himself a former leatherneck. "They break into fire teams, use their actual formations, positions, and assigned weapons to tackle the scenarios." The sequel, set to deploy on Xbox this fall (and possibly assault PlayStation 2 sometime after), aims to immerse couch commandos in even more convincing combat.
Until now, novelist Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon unit hasn't seemed all that different from his Rainbow Six squad. Sure, Rainbows specialize in counterterrorism and hostage situations while Ghosts combine infantry tactics with cutting-edge military technology on the battlefield. But so far, the guys in green have been restricted to covert skirmishes with tin-pot generals and third-world guerrillas. "This time it's all-out war," says Allen. He and the other higher-ups aren't saying who's involved just yet (apparently, intel is on a need-to-know basis, and we don't need to know), but when world powers butt heads, it's the Ghosts who make sure it's not Uncle Sam's noggin that buckles from the blow.
You are an army of one, but you're not the only one. "Your squadmates will support you with crucial information and suppressing fire," says A.I. Engineer David Hamm. "They'll flank enemy positions and take out tango's tanks." Your targets won't be soft, either, and they will "coordinate to stop the Ghosts, analyzing the terrain for advantages and making use of available cover." A streamlined squad-command interface lets you be all that you can be even amid the confusion and chaos, but Lead Sound Pro'grammer Jeff Wesevich is quick to point out that gamers will have more reason to care about their fellow Ghosts than their willingness to follow orders: "We're completely revamping our approach to the game's dialogue with the goal of filling out the polygons with real, three-dimensional personalities. That goes for the wide variety of belligerents you'll meet as you make your way through the campaign as well." In fact, with developer Red Storm Entertainment's military budget at an all-time high, Wesevich and company are overhauling, upgrading, and substantially improving their armed force in every way for the coming conflict (see Reboot Camp box-out). Don't be surprised to see this generation of GIs in a Humvee or a Blackhawk. "I can't comment on specifics yet, but we've got some very exciting plans for vehicles," Allen hints. "The Ghosts will definitely have a chance to try out some of the newest military hardware."
The original Ghost Recon is getting on in years. To maintain operational readiness and meet tomorrow's standards, it'll take more than routine rifle cleaning. "Our new graphics features take full advantage of Xbox's power and allow us to make gorgeous, natural-looking characters and environments," Lead Artist Brian Tate explains. "On top of that, we're improving special effects and adding destructible elements like collapsing buildings and crashing helicopters." Say good-bye to the simple, blocky scenery of Ghost Recons past (above).