Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2 E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

The sequel to the acclaimed tactical shooter will be making its way to E3 2004.

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Ubisoft will be bringing Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2 to E3 2004. The new game is currently in development at Ubisoft's Red Storm studio in North Carolina, USA, and it will be the sequel to the original Ghost Recon, which was previously released for the PC, the PS2, the GameCube, and the Xbox. The game will take place in a near-future version of Northeast Asia during a fictitious power struggle between North Korea and China, and it will include about 20 single-player missions that can also be used for multiplayer games. We got a good look at the Xbox version of this upcoming sequel.

Ghost Recon 2 will put more emphasis on the single-player game than previous Clancy games did. For starters, even though you will still be commanding small fire teams of highly trained operatives on top-secret missions around the world, your teammates will not simply be faceless soldiers with different equipment kits. Each of Ghost Recon 2's soldiers will have an individual personality and distinct voice samples that will play in various situations (such as when sighting hostiles or when a threat has been neutralized). You'll also be working with computer-controlled allied soldiers from the British Special Air Service (SAS) who will occasionally provide backup for you in various missions--both these soldiers and your own soldiers will also occasionally interact with each other in scripted sequences intended to make you take more of an interest in your troops and their well-being.

The original Ghost Recon was famous, or perhaps infamous, for its huge outdoor environments in which it could sometimes be frustratingly easy to get shot by a hidden enemy from out of nowhere. The new game will still feature numerous large outdoor levels, but these are all being designed with much more cover, including high grass and trees that sway in the wind. The new game will look better than the previous games, thanks to the use of texture blending to make grassy hills look like actual grassy hills (rather than lumps with patches of green), normal-mapped characters, and new lighting and particle effects, like soft shadows in twilight missions and improved explosions. To get a better look at your character, you'll play the game from a third-person, over-the-shoulder view--your character will even be able to give silent hand signals to order your teammates forward.

The sequel will apparently attempt to include new features that will both enhance the series' gameplay and remove some features that players found to be frustrating. For instance, in addition to the standard mobility options of running, walking, crouching, and lying prone, you'll be able to climb up on ledges. Also, rather than being forced to carry a heartbeat meter that gives a vague warning when hostiles are nearby, you'll actually have a full-on compass/minimap in the upper-right corner of the screen that clearly displays the presence of any nearby hostiles. The game's interface will also let you point your targeting reticule onto a location or environmental object and issue a context-sensitive move order (like in Io Interactive's Freedom Fighters)--depending on the situation and the target, your soldiers will automatically breach a door, blow up an obstacle, or attack an entrenched hostile. In addition, you'll also be able to carry a first-aid kit to revive any downed comrades; many players had previously felt forced to quite playing and reload their last saved game whenever one of their troops was hit.

If the developers of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2 can make good on their goal to make a better-looking, better-playing sequel, Ghost Recon 2 could very well be one of the best and most accessible tactical shooters on any platform. The game is scheduled for release later this year for the PC, the Xbox, and the PS2.

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