By now I think everyone has heard of Tom Clancy through his outputs in a wide range of media including books, movies, and probably the biggest of all, games. So far there have been about 50 (yes FIFTY) video games tied to the ‘Tom Clancy brand’ the biggest of which being the The Division, the 18 Rainbow Six games, the 7 Splinter Cell games, and the 13 Ghost Recon games, the most recent being Ghost Recon Wildlands. Wildlands is an open-world, squad-based third person shooter that revolves around a special ops team tasked with bringing down one of Bolivia’s biggest drug cartels, the Santa Blanca.
I’ll start off by saying Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a near perfect game. One of the game’s most prominent features is it’s open world map and I can see why. GRW’s map is ginormous. The map offers the player hours of exploration and fun, but that’s not it’s only use. The vast open world also gives the player multiple options as to how they complete an objective, which I really enjoyed. Every stronghold in the game has a weakness so you can spend a good hour before even beginning an assault just scoping out the lands and planning everything out. This adds a lot of replay value as well because you will never approach a stronghold the same way twice.
Right out of the gate we’re thrown into a character customizer. It was surprisingly extensive for a Ghost Recon game and I had a bit of fun creating a character. After that was done I was able to hop in the game. Now, Ubisoft usually has decent looking games, but damn Wildlands looks pretty. The game offers multiple points where you can just look at the environment and say ‘wow’. From vast plains to mountain range all set under a beautiful sky. It’s a nice looking game.
Now to the meat of the game. My favorite part of the game was the Stealth mechanics. They were incredibly fun and offered (almost) endless ways to approach an assault. The stealth mechanics successfully go hand and hand with the seamless open world to create incredible siege opportunities that are a lot of fun to play through. Like I said before, this offers the ability to never play the game the same twice. The best part of this mechanic is the use of the drone to stakeout an area before you plan your attack. The drone is a lot of fun to fly (sort of like the hawk in Far Cry Primal) and has room to grow with multiple upgrades in the skill tree menu.
Another fun part of the game was the driving. The driving mechanics aren’t anything special, and it’s been done better in other games, but it’s still a lot of fun to just grab a car and drive around the beautiful open world. One cool mechanic in the game is when you’re on the road and there’s a civilian driving by you can just nonchalantly point your gun at the car and they’ll stop, get out, and allow you to commandeer their vehicle…this got out of hand quick. This game is one of those games that you’re going to want to play with your friends. I wholeheartedly prefer playing this game with friends as opposed to by myself with a few lifeless drone marines.
I didn’t encounter too much that I didn’t enjoy in Wildlands. One of the big ones that stood out to me was the lack of variety in the story missions. What I mean by that is that they were super repetitive and every mission was basically a redo of the same 5 base missions. This made progressing in the story incredibly boring by about halfway through the game. I know this is a Ghost Recon game, but the story was unfortunately poorly written for my taste. I never really cared about the characters on the team and no one really had much development. Again, I know it’s a wartime fps, but at least I had a bit of emotion surrounding the characters in the first Modern Warfare, especially with that ending.
More on the graphical side of things, the faces on the NPCs had some real issues. They would move in ways that would be impossible for a normal person to achieve. The lip sync was off most of the time and the hair just didn’t look right. Basically these are character models I’d expect from a mid-life Xbox 360/PS3 game. Not too much of a problem, it just bugged me. Lastly, the voice work could have been better. No one really seemed into recording their lines save for a few secondary characters.
All in all, Ghost Recon Wildlands was an incredibly fun ride full of cunning stealth, intense gunfights, and high speed off road mayhem in whatever vehicle you fancy. The game of course could have been helped by a better story and some more variety to the missions but I really didn’t expect much at the start so I’m not too disappointed. Whether you should buy this or not depends on many things. Do you like stealth? Do you like Ghost Recon? Do you have friends that aren’t lame like mine that will buy the game with you so you can play the game in the incredibly fun co-op mode? If so then ya, you should probably buy Wildlands.