Bul­lets in Bo­livia: Ghost Re­con Wild­lands Re­view

mailife - - Contents - By AL­BERT ROLLS

Ghost Re­con: Wild­lands is the lat­est in­stal­ment in the Ghost Re­con series, which is known for its hard as nails tac­ti­cal and re­al­is­tic ac­tion. In most videogames you can ex­pect bad­dies and your he­roes to take a few bul­lets be­fore tak­ing a dirt­nap, but in Ghost Re­con they err on the side of re­al­ism. Head­shots and sneak­ing around to set up syn­chro­nous snip­ing are the or­der of the day here, and on some level that’s what you get from Wild­lands, but I think they may have made a mis­take in mak­ing it a huge open world. I’ll get to that though. Ubisoft Paris are the team be­hind Wild­lands, part of the wider Ubisoft par­ent com­pany that owns such prop­er­ties as As­sas­sins Creed, Far Cry and Watch­dogs. They also pro­duced quite a few Ghost Re­con games in the past, such as Ghost Re­con Fu­ture Sol­dier and Ghost Re­con 2 back in 2004. How­ever, the trend in the last few years for Ubisoft is to make things big. Huge, big, some­what empty open worlds. Wild­lands is one of the largest game worlds yet, 21 mas­sive prov­inces are yours to ex­plore in this fic­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Bo­livia. I’m not so sure that big­ger al­ways means bet­ter. In Wild­lands, you lead a team of spe­cial­ists sent into Bo­livia to dis­rupt the Santa Blanca Car­tel, a mas­sive drug or­ga­ni­za­tion led by a man named El Se­uno. Your job is take down the var­i­ous lead­ers of the car­tel, and even­tu­ally the big man him­self. This is ac­com­plished through search­ing for in­tel in car­tel bases, in­ter­ro­gat­ing lieu­tenants or talk­ing to var­i­ous rebel lead­ers scat­tered through the prov­inces. Tak­ing out en­emy out­posts is a lot of fun, rem­i­nis­cent of Far Crys out­posts. Scope out the en­emy partrols and po­si­tions with your drone, set up sync shots with your com­puter con­trolled squad (or friends via on­line mul­ti­player) and then usu­ally watch it all crum­ble apart and de­scend into a chaotic fire­fight when your team gets spot­ted. I didn’t re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the story or char­ac­ters too much though. The Ghosts are a bit too dry, with lots of gal­lows hu­mor and mil­i­tary hoo-ha when they chat­ter. Also, you will hear the words “Tan­gos spot­ted, I’ve got a car­tel gun­man with sub-ma­chine­guns” about fifty mil­lion times as you play through the game. The tar­gets in the car­tel are some­what in­ter­est­ing though, but the DJ and the mu­sic that plays on the ra­dio is a lit­tle too com­i­cal and over the top for my lik­ing. I ap­pre­ci­ate that kind of stuff in a game like Grand Theft Auto, but Ghost Re­con tries to be more “re­al­is­tic”, so the hu­mor ei­ther falls flat or feels forced. Game­play wise, the en­e­mies range from ei­ther brain­dead card­board cutouts to psy­chic min­dread­ers who can spot you from a mile away and man­age to hit you. The driv­ing con­trols are also su­per slidey and don’t get me started on the he­li­copter con­trols. Fly­ing is the most ef­fec­tive way to get from point A to point B quickly, but it’s such a sim­pli­fied fac­sim­ile of fly­ing a he­li­copter that while it doesn’t feel

dif­fi­cult, it also never feels re­ward­ing. That ac­tu­ally kind of sums up Wild­lands re­ally. It’s a gi­ant sand­box, with some pun­ish­ing as­pects to it. If you get spot­ted and shot you go down pretty quickly, but so do the en­e­mies. So you learn that the best way to ap­proach ev­ery out­post is to slowly scope out ev­ery­thing and snipe them from hun­dreds of me­ters away. With the AI ac­tu­ally fak­ing the sync shot me­chanic most of the time it’s re­ally easy to take out bad guys in twos, threes and even­tu­ally groups of four can be taken out re­ally eas­ily, and qui­etly. Once you learn that, you be­gin “the loop” that I al­ways end up do­ing in these open world games. Find the eas­i­est way to take out bad­dies, find a ve­hi­cle that I need and fly from point to point clean­ing up ev­ery­thing up and hoover­ing up re­sources. It be­gins to feel like a chore re­ally quickly in Wild­lands. For the pur­poses of this re­view, I did reach the con­di­tion re­quired to take on “the fi­nal boss.” Fight­ing a “boss” in a tac­ti­cal shooter is very hard thing to do. You can’t give them a tonne of hit points or ar­mor, be­cause that would feel cheap. In­stead, Wild­lands gives you 10 min­utes to fight your way through ar­mored ve­hi­cles and a small army of sol­diers to get to the last cutscene, which is on the other side of the map. I tried once, and was gunned down af­ter tak­ing the di­rect route. So in­stead, I went off the guided path, drove out into the wilder­ness to­wards an out­post that I knew had a he­li­copter. I didn’t fight any­one, sim­ply burst through the gates and hopped in the chop­per, and flew it to­wards the goal. To be fair, the chop­per was shot down by a sur­face to air mis­sile, but not be­fore I jumped out and parachuted right onto the “glowy cir­cle” that was the goal. Which led to a cutscene with the con­clu­sion of the games story. Af­ter which I was popped back out, into the world and cut to pieces by the army of guards that had fol­lowed me to the big badguys base. Wild­lands is graph­i­cally very, very pretty. It’s also fun with friends if you can get a full squad to­gether to take on the car­tel. But it’s also very large and empty, and some­times hard to con­trol. I don’t think I can rec­om­mend it over some­thing like Grand Theft Auto V, and it’s such a tonal shift from the “tac­ti­cal shooter” of the pre­vi­ous games that I can’t even re­ally rec­om­mend it to fans of the series. My ad­vice is to pick it up on sale, un­less you’re ab­soloutely starved for an open world shooter and have a few friends who are in­ter­ested in it too.

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